With many of us now approaching “A” races the concerns “what ifs” and panics start. So what can you do about it?
While there will always be something you can’t control there is plenty that you can foresee or prepare for….and the key words are prepare and practice:
- Make a checklist (ask nicely and I’ll send you mine) so you don’t forget key bits of kit, check and double check.
- I also have a “setting up” checklist for transition and write a timetable for race day and the run up to the start.
- Check your equipment and have your bike checked over before any ‘A’ races. We were at a half Iron distance Tri recently and saw a gentleman get about 10 metres from transition, go to pedal and have his derailleur rip away from the mounting- race over…. was it avoidable? Probably!
- Practice transitions, replicate the exact plan for the race (whether an Ironman style “3 bag” system or laid out by your bike) Time yourself and try to get quicker at it. You can actually practice bad transitions by setting up at home and having a friend/wife/partner do something random like fasten your helmet straps, knot shoelaces or the like.
- When you set up carefully learn the way through Transition, learning the routes In and out, finding an immovable landmark to identify where your bike is. Which gear should you be in when you mount?
- Don’t try anything for the first time in a race (exceptions may apply for specific tactics in “b” or “c” races) or use any equipment or clothing for the first time. Train with it.
- Have a “plan B”, whether that is carrying a spare inner tube, inflator, and tyre levers on the bike, making sure you have a spare pair of Goggles handy for the swim start in case a strap breaks, or other controllable situations.
- Visualise problems and your response/solution to them and practise or prepare as required. What will you do if you get a puncture? Practice changing inner tube and replacing tyre and wheel until it’s second nature, if you do get a puncture check the tyre and make sure you have removed the cause, or it’ll just happen again.
- What will you do if your chain falls off? What if an open water swim unexpectedly becomes a non wetsuit swim on the morning of the race (Vichy!) what if You need to go to the toilet during the race (for ladies particularly) wearing a Tri suit with a jacket is going to take some while to get off if needed.
- Plan and practice your nutrition and hydration before and during the race, what, if anything, will be available on the course? Practice having what you are going to eat and drink, and when, in training, if you plan to rely on the on course nutrition make sure you know what it is and try it, in long course races always have a fallback as you won’t be the first to either miss a feed station by being crowded out or too “in the zone” or drop the bottle you’ve just grabbed.
- Make sure you read the athlete guide or attend the athlete briefing no matter how many times you have raced so you are aware of local rules. The winner of the Ironman Vichy race was disqualified for wearing a swimskin because she hadn’t paid attention and understood that under French federation rules double layers were banned on a non wetsuit swim. Swim skins were even sold in the expo.
By preparing you can eliminate or reduce the panic response to problems and either avoid a DNF or reduce the amount of time lost in overcoming the problem.
At D&L Coaching we believe that training and preparing for an event is not just about the physical but the mental elements as well.