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Coaches Blog

The Devil is in the Details

Updated: Apr 21, 2022

I have this thing about race organization. I'm not talking about how the race itself is organized; I'm talking about my organization and preparation for a race. I do like details, details, details, and I encourage athletes to plan out their race week. Planning is critical, especially if an athlete is increasing the race distance. Having a plan accomplishes a few things:

  1. It forces you, the athlete, to think about all aspects of your race - from the events leading up to it, as well as during and post-race.

  2. It gives you a launching point - I believe that plans are great, but they rarely survive first contact with the enemy, BUT it does give you a place to work FROM in case things go sideways.

  3. Having your thoughts down on paper before arriving at a race site allows you to focus on your needs. It's the little things like grocery shopping, checking into your hotel or rental, what time you're going to Athlete Check-In, what time you can check your bike in. Without a plan, things can get stressful very quickly.

As an athlete, you can create your own Race Week Plan. Assuming it's a Saturday race, here are the categories that I've included in past plans (with examples in parenthesis - and this is definitely not an all-inclusive list):

Things to do the week before race week:

  • Drop off the bike for transport

  • Put your name on all your gear

  • Write or check packing Lists (broken down by sport)

  • Transition bag list (broken down by T1, T2, and Special Needs if it's an iron-distance race)

  • Grocery lists (both at home and at the race site)

  • Any necessary shopping (the more you can do ahead of time, the better)

Things to do Sunday - Thursday of race week:

  • Drive the bike course, bike the run course, swim on the swim course (if possible)

  • Check into your hotel/Airbnb (make sure to list your reservation number and details in your notes)

  • Plan nap times and visualization time

  • Retrieve the bike and check it over

Friday of race week:

  • Check the bike in

  • Transition bag drop-off

  • Walk through transitions (swim in, bike out, bike in, run out, so you know where your bike is)

  • Pre-race workouts

One section for race day:

  • From wake up to breakfast to race strategy broken down by swim, bike, run, nutrition plans, and transitions.

  • I include mantras, areas of focus, where my nutrition is placed on my run belt or in pockets, how many calories I plan to take in per hour, and what to do in transition (Pause and say aloud, "Do I have everything I need?")

There may be other items that you want to include in your race plan that I haven't listed. You can add whatever will make your race week EASIER to manage, less stressful, and help you finish your race or set a PR - whatever your goal might be!

Happy planning!


Maria Netherland is a Northwest Florida-based coach who is a USA Triathlon Level II Endurance and Youth & Juniors Certified Coach as well as a NASM Certified Personal Trainer and Performance Enhancement Specialist. Coach Maria loves working for athletes of all abilities, military athletes, and new triathletes as they pursue their goals. Maria is a veteran of the US Army and a United States Military Academy at West Point graduate. She can be reached at


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