I can’t tell you how many ‘race weeks’ I have endured through my life. It must easily run into thousands.
With all the experience in the world I still haven’t mastered the art of enjoying a race week
I guess if you like resting, planning, worrying and waiting then race week is pure bliss for you. Not me, but I do know how to nurture a successful pre-race week experience. Ultimately that means an enjoyable post-race week, and that is good enough!
Everybody gets nervous in race week.
Racing is a test of training and tests make us nervous. Test results are polarising; you pass or fail; you win or lose. That’s a lot of pressure.
Take the time to remember the preparation that has gone into your race. Remember good sessions, remember painful sessions. Understand that if you have done all you can in the allocated time that you have to be happy with the outcome of that work.
If you are a little ‘undercooked’ and haven’t been wholly focused on the task of racing that too is understandable. Do not force training in the last days before competition. You will only enter the race fatigued and unfit, which is infinitely worse than just unfit.
Use your relative freshness to your advantage. It is far better to be slightly undertrained than any over trained.
Concentrating on race routines and nutritional preparation won’t take too much energy but will improve your performance. Enter the correct mindset of going out there and doing the best with what you have’.
Sports nutrition is not complicated. Away from commercial agendas and product marketing, successful fuelling plans have remained virtually the same for decades.
Whilst professional athletes may reach for a 1% advantage in nutritional strategy, 95% of competitors simply need to drink a carbohydrate drink that they can stomach during exercising and eat sugars that are quickly absorbed and easy to digest.
Try your race fuel out in training.
In the days before a race it is important to reduce fibre intake. Fruit, vegetables and salad play dominant roles in our daily diet but they have no place in the day preceding a race.
You need simple food that is not going to stay in your digestive tract for too long ensuring a settled, comfortable tummy for the race.
Nerves are not a bad thing. They are a physiological and hormonal response to prepare the body for action.
Once the gun fires, nerves are replaced by concentration.
If the days before a race are the worst part of my job then time spent racing is the best part. It’s better than any movie, ride or party I have ever been to.
Remember these three top tips for enjoying race day.
- Experience people. Watch other people’s faces, their joy, their pain, their effort and acknowledge their achievement. The difference in peoples’ goals, in their shapes and their abilities is what makes this sport come alive.
- Keep perspective. Triathlon is a sport and sport is marvellous because it mirrors life. Like life, it is the process rather than the result that matters in the end.
- Sometimes people endure pain because they have no other choice. The grieving; the ill; the injured; the victims. Racers endure pain too, but in racing it is our choice and it is not infinite. Appreciate the freedom to experience pain, as we want. Millions would give anything for that privilege.