It is that time of the year again. The first triathlon of the season are upon us. Make your first a good one! Pre-race nerves coupled with your gear being untouched for months and your mind rusty on your race routine can cause chaos. This time, you'll be smart.
1. Locate your Race Gear. All of it!
Avoid kicking of the season by ticking off your loving supporters with irate “Honey, where is my lucky race sock?! I cannot race with out my lucky race socks!!” or having your Sherpa(s) running all around the house or going to the store for you last minute because you have no idea where your aero helmet has gone, your aero-bottle has been repurposed as a “rocket ship” in your daughter's toy box and you forgot to buy your race nutrition. Items you placed carefully in the garage after your final race last year may have been shuffled around by family members (or yourself) over the holidays. Maybe you’ll horrifically discover that bag in the corner of the garage with your wetsuit and race kit still muddy with river water is now growing mildew. It is best to find these things more than a few days in advance so you can be calm and focus on the upcoming race.
Use our handy Race Day Checklist in the Track Cat Fitness Resources to make sure you have everything you need. Personalize it for yourself!
2. Check your Equipment:
It has likely been a while since you have been by to see your competition season BFF… the bike shop mechanic. Mitigate the risk of a potential mechanical issue on your season opener. Take your baby …er bicycle to get a check up or if you DIY take the time to go over everything in detail.
You also want to make sure those race wheels are in working order with tires and tubes. The power meter battery is full, data screens on your watch are set up for outdoor riding/racing and goggles are leak free.
3. Practice Transitions:
You will likely see a lot more season opener T1 bike mounts go splat than later in the year. Overly confident out of practice triathletes might struggle to flawlessly leap for flying mounts. Don't be "that athlete" on the pavement. With practice you are less likely to throw your helmet on over your swim cap or running onto the bike course still wearing the helmet. That aero helmet might not be so useful on the run.
4. Nutrition Kickstart:
Chances are good that you likely aren't "race weight" and do not fret. It is too early for that. Besides, race week is a terrible time to try to lose two months of winter weight gain in two weeks or two days. Relax, you have plenty of time. Just make sure you are hydrating, eating clean, laying off the sauce and dialing back on your caffeine leading in. The first race is a great opportunity to try out your nutrition plan and start dialing that in.
5. Have a Great Attitude
This is a race to have fun and to prep yourself for the season to come. You aren't supposed to be at peak fitness for your prep race but you can have a strong mindset, practice skills, learn and give it your all with what you have any day. The first race can set you up for a fantastic mental fitness kickstart. Think of 2-3 key realistic and challenging skills to work on or objectives to accomplish in this race and go after them full force. Think of what it is that will help you grow as an athlete and serve as practice for bigger events. An evenly paced run, flawless flip turns, holding back in the first few minutes of the bike, staying aero the entire ride, practicing race day fueling and fast transitions are just a few ideas.
6. Sharpen the Mind & Build Your Mental Fuel
Another way to use the race to is to come up with a race day mantra to keep you motivated. Write it down. Say it out loud on the course. Use it for this race and maybe it will stay with you, fueling and driving you in races all season! The first race of the season is a great way to set the tone for the year. It could be one word such as "Courage" or a phrase such as "Fight for It" or initials such as BSFS: Better Stronger Faster Smarter! Be creative!