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Coaches Blog

Plan Ahead to Avoid Race Day Jitters

Updated: Apr 21, 2022

There's no denying it - on race day, you will be nervous. You will be stressed. You might even be terrified. What's the best way to handle this? Practice. Practice everything. Just as you practice each of the three main elements of triathlon (the swim, the bike, and the run), practice all the small items that can slip through the cracks.

This includes:

Transition - Set up your transition BEFORE race day. This includes your towel/mat, helmet, run shoes, bike shoes, hydration, nutrition, sunglasses, race belt, and of course, your bike. How are you going to arrange your "stuff" in the small space provided? Where will your helmet go? Or your shoes?

Nutrition - To avoid getting caught "off-guard" with gastrointestinal distress, practice training with the actual nutrition you will be taking in - right down to the flavor. This means that if you plan to consume a specific orange-flavored gel, make sure you practice with that orange-flavored gel. This is the best way to ensure that your body responds appropriately and effectively.

Starting/Stopping - Especially on and off the bike! Race day is not the time to try a flying mount. Be sure you know your steps for getting on and off the bike beforehand. Also, make sure you know where the mount/dismount line is going to be.

Putting Your Wetsuit On and Taking It Off - Your wetsuit will be tight. Like, REALLY tight. It is recommended that you practice swimming in it first. Still, most people don't consider that they should practice putting their wetsuit on and ESPECIALLY taking it off...while moving from point to point. This takes a good amount of surprising coordination - and practice!

Swimming Take-Off - Starting the swim in a triathlon is practically a contact sport in itself! Many different people, all with different levels of swim experience, are trying to start swimming fast simultaneously. It's a recipe for disaster...flailing arms, kicking feet, and tons of splashing are common in triathlon circles. But a little practice and strategy can go a long way here. Many athletes who want to steer clear of the fray start just slightly to a side/back. It can also be helpful to practice being comfortable swimming without certainty of getting good breaths of air every time you breathe.

There are, of course, so many areas of focus you could practice to gain confidence and suppress race-day jitters. And there are so many ways to practice each of these - and all of them are right! What do YOU practice before a triathlon?


Coach Becky Piper is a USA Triathlon Certified Level 1 Triathlon Coach, Paratriathlon Coach, and Cycling Coach. She is currently on her way to Michigan but has made a little stopover in Wisconsin to see friends and family while her husband Sam is serving in the military. Her dog, Gunner, is with her on the long adventure across the country. She is the reigning national champion in the Time Trial and Road Race in women’s C2 Paracycling and is preparing for her debut in the Paralympic Trials, but her true passion is coaching. Coach Becky can be reached at


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