Race season is just around the corner here in North America. So many triathletes are in the final few weeks of their training plans. However, just because you are well trained and fit for a race does not mean you are truly ready. Many training programs leave out three key essentials.
Three actions that you need to take before your first race of the season to ensure that it is a good one:
- Practice in the open water. Many beginner triathletes neglect to practice in the open water before their first race, which is a big mistake. While logistically it is harder to get to open water, you should make it as high a priority as possible. Swimming in the open water is very different from the pool. So triathletes need to build their confidence and skills up before doing it on racing day. This is also a good time to test your wetsuit. Many find wetsuits to be very constricting around the chest. This can be problematic for breathing and may lead to hyperventilating. With some practice though, your wetsuit will stretch out and you will get used to the feeling.
- Get your bike tuned up. If your last tune up was last Fall, it needs some TLC. In particular, you may need to tune or replace your brake and shifting cables. Old cables can lead to skipping gears, not being able to shift at all, and slower braking, very dangerous in a race scenario. Clean and tune your drive train (chain, rear cassette, crank, and both derailleurs) to ensure smooth shifting, that your chain is not stretched or dangerously worn, and your race wheels–if you have them or are renting–are not rubbing. A clean bike is a fast bike.
- Visualize your race. Visualizing your race might seem rather woo woo. But going through and mentally picturing yourself in each leg of the race can be beneficial. However, don’t just imagine yourself having the race of your life. Imagine everything that could go wrong: your goggles fall off; you swim off course or have a flat tire. You drop your nutrition on the bike or lose a water bottle or start to get blisters on the run, etc. Then visualize yourself responding to all of the above with a clear, focused, cool mindset and action plan rather than freaking out. With some mental prep, if any of the above do happen to you, you will be ready and know exactly what to do instead of melting down on the side of the road or having an anxiety attack.
Coupled with a solid training plan, these essential but often overlooked steps will help you show up on race day fully prepared.
Train and race hard
Coach Chris and Kev