Tomorrow will be my fourth race of this year, but as those who have ready my last few blogs will know, the main difference in this event is that I have competed at this venue a few times before. It therefore makes my preparation slightly easier than the others as I have an idea what to expect, and I thought it would be good to write a bit about my pre-race routine:
I do not follow any official tapering plan, but just tend to try and ease off from my usual training. That means plenty of swimming and stretching, and only light cycling. I tend not to run as that takes me longest to recover, instead doing something lower impact such as cross-training. Basically my rule is do enough to stay fit, but don’t get injured! One of the downsides to the distance challenge I am doing this year is trying to keep up enough miles, which has meant I have done more than usual this week, such as a spin class on Thursday, but on a more positive note my body must be more used to taking a beating, as I do not seem to have any delayed aches today.
Definitely a day to take it easy! At most a light swim, but not much more. Today was a bit different and I went to the golf range to hit a few balls, but I had a longer swim last night so felt like mixing things up. Aside from that, I will be relaxing and watching action movies to get in the racing mindset. The classic is of course Rocky (IV being my preference, but III on occasions), and other favourites include Gladiator, Top Gun, Point Break, Iron Man (natch) or anything with Arnie in it! Today is a bit different and I am watching The Raid at the moment, which seems about right so far.
I have not written yet about nutrition, a topic I will cover in more detail another day, but this morning I had scrambled eggs on bagels, and tonight will be having my wife’s fantastic tuna pasta bake, something of a tradition in this house. The main thing is eating a good balance of carbs for energy the next day, whilst not upsetting my stomach: the last thing you want in a race is an unscheduled pit stop… The other aspect is drinking plenty of fluids to stay hydrated, although not too much caffeine in the afternoon, as sleeping is not always easy before a big race.
I owe a huge gratitude to the following website (http://triathlon.racechecklist.com/) which I have used for every single one of my races so far. It might sound basic, but with the amount of kit you need for a race it is easy to forget something small which could have a huge impact on the day. I also like to lay our everything on the bed to check together, before loading up my various bags. An overview of my race-day tri kit is:
- Orca S2 Wetsuit
- More Mile Tri Suit
- Aquasphere Goggles + Spare Set
- Spare Swim Hat (although most races provide one)
- Carrera Zelos Bike
- DHB Bike Shoes
- Bell Bike Helmet
- Sunglasses (Dark or Yellow)
- Bike Clothing (Top, Shorts, Socks)
- Tool Kit inc Spare Tubes & Pump
- Saucony Pro Grid Trainers (Road / Trail / Tri depending on terrain)
- Number Belt
- Garmin 410 Running Watch
- Cap (for those rare occasions it is sunny!)
- Possible Change of Clothes
- Drinks Bottles (mix of Hi Five carbs or electrolytes depending on distance)
- Hi Five or Nectar Energy Gels (approx 3 per hour on bike leg, 2 per hour on foot)
- Solid Food (banana, malt loaf, biscuits)
- Post Race For Goodness Shakes Milkshake
- Bike Rack
- MP3 and Headphones
- Body Glide Lube( vital!) & Talc
- Transition Towel
- Post Race Clothes
- Various Bags & Rucksacks to put it all in!
This depends slightly on what time I need to register for the race and how far away it is. Being based in the middle of the UK I can get to most places within a few hours, which is important as this is an expensive enough hobby on its own, without having to pay for hotels on top. I am in the first wave tomorrow, which kicks off at 10 am, and I need to be there to register an hour before. Allowing a couple of hours for the drive, means I will leave at 7, so be up around 6 ish.
Breakfast is usually porridge with raisins and honey, slow release carbs to keep going as long as possible. I can’t usually eat that much more, but might have some peanut butter on toast if I am starting a bit later. Again plenty of squash to stay hydrated, but that is about it.
After getting to the race and registering, I spend some time laying out my kit in transition whilst listening to some psyche up tunes (see other blogs for playlists). I am not normally the tidiest person, but this is one area that demands a bit of care, as it is all about being as efficient as possible to save time in the race. After racking my bike, I lay down a towel and put my bike kit on the left, and running stuff on the right. Space is usually at a premium, and you need to lay it out in reverse order so the last things you put on are on the bottom. The order I do T1 is:
- Goggles off & start unzipping wetsuit whilst getting our of the water
- Wetsuit fully off whilst standing on towel to dry feet a bit
- Cycle top and shorts over tri suit on
- Number belt on
- Bike helmet and sunglasses on
- Socks and bike shoes on
- Quick swig of drink if needed
- Unrack bike and start running
T2 is slightly less exciting as there is no wetsuit (and you are dry!) so first thing is to rack the bike, then helmet and accessories off. Depending on distance I might change clothes (shorter than an Olympic and you don’t really have time), then swap the bike shoes for trainers and get back on the road!
Even with all the race nutrition, you always finish a race thirsty. Maybe it is posing for all the post race photos or the weight of the finisher’s medal! Tomorrow’s event always has great coconut water at the finish line and, as with almost all my training sessions, a milkshake is another essential. A special mention needs to go to the Peak District triathlon for having the decency to offer a pint on the line, even if it was alcohol free! We also have one last tradition for this event: a massive burger & chips at Oxford Service station off the M40 on the way home. It is not fancy, but believe me it will be well deserved!