The all important and anticipated race days come round anything between 1 and 10 times in a season depending on how hard and often you like to race. Some believe in racing to get fit and some believe that a season isn’t a season unless they’ve smashed themselves at least once a month in a competitive setting! The point of the matter is, that no matter how frequently you race, its never as often as we train and no matter what you are hoping to achieve on the finish line, preparation is ALWAYS the key to success.
There is a wealth of information and advice out there and i’m sure that some of you have started to look into the all important race day strategy. The first thing that I want to point out is that what works for one, doesn’t work for the other. Every race is a learning experience! I’ve been doing triathlon now for 3 years and I still dont think i’ve had a perfect race. I’ve certainly had things go well but very rarely does it ever go perfectly and i’m pretty anal about how I prepare!
Kit: One easy piece of advice here….be organised, be systematic. Make a list, check it off and pack the day before. That way last minute things can be dealt with and you can rest easy the night before. Here’s my race day check list:
- Swim hat
- Flip flops
- Running hat
- Anti Chafe cream
- Cycle shoes
- Race belt
- Pre-made drinks
- Post race recovery drink
- Baby oil
- Elastic bands
- Pre/post race club kit
- Waterproof Jacket (you never know in the UK!)
- Can of man the F*@k up!
Race day food for a sprint or Olympic distance: A big part of my race day is having to deal with 5hrs worth of tummy cramps after! To help me deal with this the few days leading up to the race are important. I try to cut out diary products as much as possible and keep the carbohydrate levels high. You generally don’t need to eat much more as your training intensity is lower to taper for the big day.
On the morning dont leave things to chance. If staying over in B&B’s or hotels there is often not food that is right for me, I therefore pre-soak porridge oats with apple juice and add some chopped fruit and nuts. Easy to digest, tastes good and doesn’t need refridgerating! During the race I aim to take on board my calories before the race start and on the bike. The reason I do this is because I don’t tolerate foods and gels when running.
Heres a run down of my race day nutriton. I try to base my carb intake on 1g of carb per KG of body weight per hr of exercise. Try to have a rough figure for yourself to figure out how much you will burn:
- 2-3hrs before racing: BIG bowl of the above yumminess with a good mug of Yorkshire tea.
- 90mins before racing: Sip on a 750ml bottle of electrolyte fluid- aim to finish this approx 30mins before race start.
- 30 mins before racing: 1x banana (24g carb) + 1-2x Caffeine Gels depending on weather sprint or Olympic distance (50-60g carb).
- During the bike: I aim to consume 1x750ml bottle of highly concentrated carb drink- (50-60g carb) OR 1x 750ml bottle of electroltye and 1-2 gels (50-60g). I do sometimes use gels but I often find that these mess with my tummy. This is a classic example of trial and error so I would recommend using what you tend to use during training. That way you wont suffer any nasty tummy surprises!
And thats it folks! Post race strategy consists of a recovery drink straight after and then enjoying whatever the hell i want….lets face it, we’ve earned it!