Race day is finally here. Some key things to making it special are....
1. Arrive on time-Nothing makes you more anxious than fear you might miss the start or not have adequate time to set things up. Set multiple sleep alarms to make sure you get up on time. At least one alarm should not require a power outlet (in case the power goes out). Remember what time zone you're in and will be racing in. I generally try to arrive 1-1.5 hours pre-race start. If race time is at 7:30, you need to be there, at the latest, by 6:30.
2. Relax and get pumped up-Sport psychologists suggest a healthy amount of pre-race anxiety. That means don't get so pumped up you can't control yourself but also not to get so relaxed that you're lethargic. Your goal is the right amount of anxiousness. This can be done by some good socializing (maybe your transition neighbors-laughter can be a wonderful thing) and some good music with a nice beat that elevates the adrenaline a little bit. Don't let your mind focus on the unknowns and uncontrollables. This will increase the wrong type of anxiety.
3. Transition set up (The other area that you should have practiced before race day)-This is pretty straight forward but think about quick transitions. What can you do to make T1 and T2 faster? Bottom line, set it up so you can access everything quickly, easily, and in order (helmet ready, bike shoes open and ready, sunglasses in helmet ready to slide on, etc). Access includes things like finding your transition spot easily. I like to use the ugliest, most loud towel possible so it can't be missed as I run through the transition area.
4. Warm up-This is something you do at the beginning of each training session and is equally as important on race day. Not only is it important physically, but it also helps you check your equipment one last time. I usually warm up on the bike first, then jog, then head down to the water for warm up and to hear last minute course directions. Maybe it's superstition, but I have found this to be invaluable in terms of how I feel during the actual race. Don't forget to put your bike in the correct gear before you head down to the water.
5. Stay within your limits-Give it 110% on the race course but do it the smart way by pacing yourself appropriately. After a good taper and some sweet pre-race jams, you will likely be feeling pretty good. Don't burn yourself up in the first 2 legs of the event only to find yourself on empty for the final and most important leg.
6. Enjoy it-Make it a point to smile at other racers, wave, pump your fist, thank the volunteers and race staff, and have fun. Having fun is the point of racing so don't leave this out of the event.
7. Be flexible-The race will not work out exactly the way you planned...period. Be ready for some improvisation and go with it. The course will always be more hilly then you anticipated, temperature less ideal than expected, water buoys further apart, etc. Don't let the nuances of a course freak you out.
Scott Flynn, owner, coach and triathlete of 10+ years with Threshold Multisport Coaching, holds a MS in Exercise Science and multiple nationally recognized fitness certifications (CES, CSCS). For more about Threshold coaching packages click here.