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:
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.
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.
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)
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!
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 email@example.com.