Things to AVOID before your big race

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You’ve trained for months before your A race and race week is finally here.

You made it to the pool consistently and practiced in the open water; did your long ride each week, and practiced race day fueling during practices and dialed in your everyday nutrition to optimize your body composition.

Then, the week of the race, disaster strikes….

You get food poisoning, you twist an ankle, you crash your bike, you catch an upper respiratory infection…

And instead of lining up on the starting line you are on the sidelines.

These accidents happen and while it is unfortunate, it is not the end of the world. You will race another day guaranteed and one race should not define you as a person or athlete.

However, it would be nice to avoid these tragedies. So follow these tips the week of your race to minimize the risk:

  1. Prepare your own food. Food poisoning might be the most common ailment that I hear athletes (pro and age groupers alike) suffer from right before a key race. To avoid this, prepare your own food if you can. Homemade food is not only cheaper, it allows you to control what goes into it and avoid potential bacteria. Definitely, avoid the all-you-can-eat buffets until after the race.    
  2. Avoid the open water preswims. But, Chris, you are always harping on us to get into the open water! Yes, practicing in the open water is important leading up to your race. But swimming in some places can be risky. Depending on the venue, there are lots of bacteria in the water and while it might be safe to race in, practicing in it the week of the race can leave you sick. Instead practice in the open water during the weeks leading up to your race. Then do a quick dip the day before and the morning of. That way, if you do catch something, it will hit you after you cross the finish line.
  3. Don’t fear training. Go into race week with a training plan and stick with it. Your taper week should be low volume but high intensity with a few pickups in each discipline to keep the body lose and mind sharp but stress low in addition to some short race pace intervals to dial in what that effort feels like. You might feel nervous that you are not doing enough or see other athletes doing long workouts before a race. Let these feelings and thoughts go. Your training is done. All you can do now is let your body absorb all your hard work and execute your plan on race day.
  4. Overworking. With less training volume you might be tempted to do longer hours at the office to fill the void. But overstressing yourself at work the week before a race can stress out your body and mind, leaving you fatigued on race day. Keep your schedule as normal as possible the week of a race.

Obviously, even by following these tips, your race prep could still go awry. But control what you can control, so that you can let all your hard work shine on race day.

Coach Chris, Tri Swim Coach