Updated: Jan 25, 2020
Expect the best but be ready for anything on race day!
by Liesl Begnaud
As athletes, we spend countless hours training, planning and buying equipment for our triathlon season of races. Some of us do 1 or 2 long distance races and others do several short distance races over the season. Either way, any distance, in addition to the physical training you do, you also need to practice mental race preparation and visualization.
Know the race course
As you prepare for your race, it is your responsibility to learn the course. Before race day, study the swim, the bike course and the run course. If it is a local race, actually go to the race location and train on the course. If you travel to a race, take the time to drive the bike course so you can see the course. Bike or walk the run course.
Practice setting up your Transition
As a part of race preparation, set up your transition and practice putting on your gear, in the same order every time. If you plan to change your clothes at an IM race, practice a wardrobe change in training. Change from a wet swim suit to your bike gear.
Practicing mental visualization is to see or imagine yourself completing each leg of the race. In your mind, imagine yourself swimming, then imagine coming out of the water and going to your transition set up, put your gear on as you practiced in a specific order, see yourself out on the bike course and taking in your nutrition, passing other athletes and keeping your pace steady. Imagine your turn into transition and rack your bike and change into your run gear. Practice seeing yourself put on the race belt, grab water and head out to the run course. Visualize each mile and each smile as you run by the aid stations and thank the volunteers. Finally, see yourself crossing the finish line, strong and happy!
Finish line glory and race day set backs
In addition to visualizing the perfect race performance, it’s important to think through what you might do if you have race day setbacks. What will you do if your goggles get kicked off your face? How will you handle a flat tire on your bike? What if your bike chain drops or your gears get stuck? Imagine how you will react and adjust. Think ahead to your run and how you will handle a leg cramp or extreme heat or a bad stomach. Race day preparation includes preparing for and expecting a great day, but being ready when something unplanned happens. As you train and put in the hours and miles, make sure to add visualizing those potential setbacks and the finish line glory to your race day preparation.