About three weeks ago many of us competed in Ironman 70.3 Chattanooga, and it was a very special day. No, I did not qualify for 70.3 Worlds or set a new personal record. Instead, I met my “big race goal” for the event: to compete with a positive attitude and genuine happiness. I even surpassed my “tiny goals”: avoid re-injury of my rotator cuff and peroneus brevis, pace by heart rate, and finish with a huge smile.
As you can tell from above, I am a goal-oriented and detail-driven person; like most triathletes I have met. It is easier to feel a sense of control and accomplishment if we will just take the time to create and use a race plan. Below are some simple guidelines to use. If you would like more detail reach out to me, Coach Long Man, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Top 5 Race Planning Tips for Triathletes
- Set a “big race goal” well in advance; some examples: just to finish, set a personal record, qualify for a championship, to be able to smile for the finish line fans, et cetera. When setting this goal, know your limitations, level of training / fitness, and likely race conditions. Reach high but be realistic!
- Two weeks out from the race use the big goal to set specific “tiny goals” for reference during the event. Examples for a long course race might include: swim comfortably within the pack or don’t ever stop swimming, nail 75% of FTP wattage or negative split the bike leg, run at 135 bpm or just walk the sag stops, verbally encourage other racers on the course, hydrate every 15 minutes or eat every 30 minutes, et cetera.
- If this is an “A” race also write down a script for the entire event weekend including food you will eat, an equipment checklist, a time table for where to be & when, et cetera. Anything you can do to remove pre-race stress is a good thing!
- Share your plan with your coach or a trusted mentor who can provide feedback. They will help you avoid common mistakes like trying a new nutrition protocol on race day or setting too aggressive a target pace for the bike or run.
- And of course the golden rule, everything can & will change on race day. Have a mental plan A & B for each leg; especially when doing long course racing.