By Coach Troy Jacobson
Being organized is important in many areas of life, especially when it comes to competing in the sport of triathlon. There are so many moving parts on race day with regard to equipment needs, nutrition and pacing strategies that even a small misstep can mean the difference between a successful outcome and a disappointing race-day experience.
Every triathlete should develop a race-day checklist. This list should include everything necessary to have a positive event, from the time you wake up to when the race is over. Always be prepared for the worse too, especially when it comes to potential bike-related mechanical issues and weather.
Below is a summary checklist of items you may wish to consider packing for race day, as well as additional tips to remember leading up to the race and on the day of the event. Add whatever works for you as needed.
You should have goals for every race you do, even training races. Write down the two to three things you would like to accomplish or learn from the event. After the race, reference the list to ensure you hit you marks or adjust your game plan heading into your next event if necessary.
- Special foods or drinks
- Extra shoes
- Special needs bags (if allowed on the race course)
- Tri bag
- Necessary medications (inhalers, etc)
- Toilet paper
- Extra alarm clock
- Warm-up suit/warm clothes
- Umbrella or rain gear
- Timing chip band
- Multi-tool kit
- Electrical tape
- Swimsuit or tri race kit
- Swim cap
- Wetsuit or swim skin
- Cycling shoes
- Bike/tri shorts or tri race kit
- Water bottles
- Nutrition bag
- Flat repair kit (tire, tube, tire levers, CO2)
- Arm warmers or leg warmers
- Light wind vest
- Race belt
- Running shoes with quick laces
- Hydration belt or water bottle
- Hat or visor
- Towel or mat
- Extra water bottle
- Anti-chafe cream
- Extra clothes
- Extra shoes/flip flops
- Recovery nutrition
- Wake up early and eat three to four hours before your start time. Eat only familiar, easily digested foods (example: banana and a bagel with jam).
- Stop drinking fluids about two hours before your start time. Continue sipping as needed. Pee, pee and then pee again (Don’t worry, everybody pees in their wetsuit).
- Get to the race early to secure a good spot in transition. Ideally, this is a spot on the end of the rack close to the bike in/out.
- Make a mental note of landmarks to help you easily find your rack.
- Use a bright-colored towel so your area stands out, and be courteous. NO BEACH TOWELS!
- Leave the balloons at home – you will not make any friends if your balloon is tangled around someone else’s bike.
- Organize your gear in the order you will use it, and run through transitions in your mind.
- Complete a good 10-15 minute running warm-up about 45 minutes before start time.
- Put on your wetsuit and hop in the water for a good swim warm-up 15-20 minutes before your start time. Be on the line five to 10 minutes before the gun.
- Remember that this is why you put in all those training hours. Believe in your training, do your best and have fun!
Be organized and prepared for the inevitable challenge or setback, and you’ll increase your chances of having a successful triathlon experience!
A former pro triathlete and coach since 1992, Troy Jacobson is the creator of Spinervals Cycling and the Sr. National Director of Endurance Sports Training for Life Time Fitness. Learn more at www.lifetimeendurance.com.