Race Prep for Your First Triathlon (or First 100 of Them) – Part II

To Do’s for Race Day Eve and Morning

By: Brittany Berry, 2019 event ambassador for Toronto Island Triathlon

If you have a triathlon coming up soon, hopefully you’ve already read the Part I of this article on race prep to do’s in the week before an event or have at least started thinking about how to get set. This blog post here builds on the tips in Part I to have you ready in the final 24 hours leading up to a multisport event. As mentioned in that article, every triathlete will have their own race goals and experiences, so their exact preparation methods will be unique to them too. Also, no two multisport events are the same, each with their own differences in challenges, so how an athlete gets ready for one race will vary as well from how they prepare for another. Part II here will help you plan what you need to do for logistical preparations for your upcoming triathlon.

Ideally, at this point you will have already done these activities over the course of the week leading up:

  • Mentally simulated going through the event,
  • Started gathering race day and travel items to be ready for packing,
  • Inspected your gear and replaced any needed pieces,
  • Have already built up your fitness over time (of course!) and more recently, brushed up on technical skills, and
  • Reviewed the info on your event or checked out MultiSport Canada’s Resource Library if your race info is still on the way.

I hope you have your pen and papers ready!

Lining Up the Final Dominoes

Get set-up to bring your best self to the race. That includes your best equipped, best fuelled, and best hydrated self. Here are my tips for planning out what detailed tasks you need to do and when in your multisport preparations:

Write down your ideas, either manually or digitally. Sometimes we might think that getting ready for a certain race will be so simple that we don’t need to write notes down. I suggest doing it anyways though. In the worst case scenario, if after writing it all down, you actually end up with a straight-forward list of only a few items and to-do’s that you can easily remember… then you can throw it out. I think more likely than not though, you’ll realize you had missed a few things that you won’t want to forget.

If a task can be done further ahead of the race rather than later, then plan to do it earlier (ex. on the day before rather than the morning of the triathlon) and stick to it. The only tasks that should be left to do on the morning of an event are the tasks that can only be done at that time.

Lay out all the items you plan to take, organize it, and double-check against your checklist. No, it’s not over-obsessive to do so.

Make divided checklists of race items that are categorized by different stages. Divide them into categories like things you need (or might need just in case) at and before the start time, in T1 heading into the bike, in T2 heading into the run, after the finish, and – if your event allows – in your Special Needs bag(s). If the event has a separate equipment check-in ahead of the race (ex. check-in for bike and transition bags the day before), then I will mark on my checklists which items need to be put in place in that earlier check-in and which can be added in on the morning of. For a clearer visual check, lay out all the gear you plan to take, organize it, and double-check it against your checklist. Finally, depending on the extent of the travel involved for you to get to the triathlon, you may want to keep another checklist of things you need for that on its own.

Review your in-race hydration and nutrition needs. Which foods (aka. fuels) and drinks will you need? How much? At what points in the event? Which ones will you take from on-course aid stations vs. ones you’ll bring yourself? If you’re still new to understanding this stuff, this article on fuelling and hydrating during a triathlon is a great start for beginners.

If you are lucky enough to have a friend or family member helping you for the event (aka. a “race sherpa”), communicate with them. Make sure you’ve discussed the tasks you need their help with, what info they only need to be aware of, when to give you your space to focus, and how to support you in those just-in-case scenarios.

The race begins soon! Better boogie over to (and at) the starting line!

Look After Yourself: Biological Needs

Eat and hydrate well heading into to the event. Avoid potential problem foods and beverages in the last day coming up to your race – this is not the time to try new things. Get the best sleep you can the night before. Have a pre-race-appropriate breakfast – a good top-up of carbs that are easy to absorb and that your body is used to. Speaking of doing things as you’re used to, don’t be afraid of coffee – again, only if it’s already a habit for your typical morning. Go to the washroom one last time (important!). After you’ve checked-in for the race start and have your gear all set, start moving around to get your body revved up and, if possible, get some warm-up swimming in. You’re ready for this!

Keep in Mind: Control What You Can, Adjust to What You Can’t

That’s the right attitude! You can find MultiSport Canada’s #RaceTipWednesday posts on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Although this blog post is meant to cover just logistical preparation, it wouldn’t be complete without a small note on mental preparation. Being prepared for different scenarios you can see possibly happening (within reason) helps you take control of your race experience for yourself and make the best of things in the case you encounter a difficult situation. However, things can happen in triathlon that we don’t have control over, that we can’t plan enough for, and the best way to handle those cases is to adjust to them, even if it means modifying your original plans. With all the training you’ve done to get here, you know that you can plan, carry through, and even adapt your actions for your best race. Go get ’em!


Race Prep for Your First Triathlon (or First 100 of Them) – Part I

To Do’s 1 Week Before Your Race

By: Brittany Berry, 2019 event ambassador for Toronto Island Triathlon

Race goals and race day experiences are unique to each person. Just how every triathlete has their own training plan, each will have their own needs for race preparation too. I won’t attempt here to give a single race prep checklist that works for everyone, but I hope this article can help you make a preparation plan that’s just for you.

So, it’s the week (or fortnight or whatever short-term countdown period) before your event and at this point, preparation is no longer just training for the body. There are all sorts of practical and mental tasks you should start doing in the lead-up. You don’t want to leave everything until the night before the race. Some things are best to do the day ahead or morning of the race, but not most things. (Don’t worry, there’s a blog post coming up on what to do on the day before and morning of a race too). A good approach to preparing is to start thinking in broader terms farther ahead of your event, then get more and more detailed in the specifics as you get closer to the date. Of course, if you have some travel and overnight stays involved for your event, adjust your plans accordingly and distinguish between tasks to do before you travel and once you’ve arrived.

Here are my tips for figuring out exactly what logistical things you need to do and when in your race prep plan:

Start Visualizing the Race Experience
Simulate going through a triathlon in your head – or even better if you’ve had the chance to do a race simulation in real life. Even if you’re heading into your very first triathlon and feel like you don’t really know what to expect, doing this exercise is sure to bring you at least a few ideas of how you’ll want to be prepared on-course. If you’ve already done triathlons, what items did you use before? Were there any things you didn’t bring that you wish you had? Think about what equipment, clothing, nutrition items, and special preventative or reactive “Help me!” supplies (ex. Body Glide, Vaseline, sunscreen top-up) you will need for all parts of the event:

  • immediately before the start,
  • in each stage and transition of the race, and
  • right after you finish.

MultiSport Canada has a great resource library which includes some pages on things to be ready for in-race too.

Go through the race in your head or for real.

Start Gathering Race Day Items
You don’t need to pack up yet. However, it’s helpful to start setting aside items you have that you will need for race day but won’t be using for your everyday training for the rest of the time leading up to your event. You can even start setting aside some of your things for the night before and morning of the event, like ingredients for your race day breakfast.

Bike in working order? Check! Helmet fits? Check! Sunglasses I found on the ground? Check!

Inspect Your Gear and Get Replacement Pieces
This goes for all event stages but it especially goes for your bike. Take a look at the gear and supplies you have for all race segments, then make note of items you’re missing that you’ll have to get a hold of in your lead-up time. For your bike, give it a good look-over (or quick ride) to identify parts requiring a fix or tune-up, purchase any replacement or spare parts you need, make sure your transportation equipment is ready to go, and, ideally, put together a small repair kit.

Practice Technical Skills You’ve Been Missing
As much as you might practice swimming, cycling, and running in your training, there are always some skills you haven’t practiced that just might (or definitely will) come in handy, specifically in a race. With such short time before your event, the idea here is not to work on improving your fitness level, but to refresh on technical, practical skills so that you’re not held back by the small things. Don’t worry about looking silly in front of your neighbours!

Here are a few ideas of these sorts of skills to work on:

  • For the bike, practice maneuvering, shifting gears, and even handling your water bottles and nutrition while in motion (especially if your recent bike training has been confined to mostly indoor, stationary practice).
  • Mentally run through your transitions, thinking about what items you take or leave and in what order. Physically practice movements that are tricky, like removing your wetsuit, mounting/dismounting the bike, and changing footwear.
  • Review doing basic bike repairs, like replacing flats.
  • For the swim, get some open water practice if you haven’t had much recently. Get familiar with the feeling of your suit and the dynamic movement of non-pool water, practice some race skills like swimming close to other people and sighting, and if you have a phobia for this part of the race like I do, practice your mental strength while you’re in the water (check out Matt McGuckin’s post “Getting (Un)Comfortable” too).

Good suggestion, #RaceTipWednesday!

Review Your Race Info
You know all that stuff that you don’t really need to know right now, but will need to have it in your head on race day? Start downloading it into your brain! If you’ve already registered ahead for your race, you’ll receive an email from the organizer with detailed event info in the week leading up to the race, if not earlier. It’ll include information such as the schedule, directions to the venue, race kit pick-up procedure, course descriptions and maps, race regulations, and race tips.

So, get your pencil and papers out and get planning! Keep an eye out for Part II of this post for tips on what to do on the day before and the morning of your race.

Life In a Day

By Taylor Speirs

Triathlon, like many long distance endurance sports is like experiencing life in one day. One of my idols in the sport of ultra marathons, Ann Trason, describes this best stating: “I’ve always looked at running 100 miles as life in a day, it has all the trials and tribulations as life in one day.”

When that gun goes off as the sun rises, the emotions and thoughts that one experiences are unlike anything else. As we push ourselves to reach a goal, whether that’s completion of a race or a timed goal, we experience both joy and hardship. There is something magical about endurance racing, it can bring out the best and worse version of us. It can bring out utter frustration and promises of “I am never doing this again” but somehow we find ourselves at the starting line again.

For those who are starting triathlon for the first time, these races will enable you to discover yourself, as you push yourself further than you ever thought was possible. It is important to soak it all in, every cheering spectator, every aid station volunteer, everything thought and feeling.

At times the distances ahead may seem impossible, but don’t forget to take a deep breath and embrace this crazy experience. Remember there is no finish line, only the start of a whole new race.