By the time you read this, you’ll be around 6 days away from participating in another fun, 70.3 miles worth of swim/bike/run triathlon (Oceanside 70.3). This might be your first 70.3, or your tenth one, regardless, the nerves will start to build up, and everything that comes with it. Here is a simple guide to help you navigate the week (taper week) leading to your race:
Monday (week of the race): Relax, all of your hard work is now done. You can’t make up any workouts and everything you do should be focusing on fine tuning your body for the race. 1. You STILL need to workout this week. Do not take the whole week off. Your total workload should drop around 50%, and short periods of high intensity should be included in each of your workouts. i.e. (some fast 25s on your swimming, with extra rest), 20 sec strides (controlled fast efforts in your running, etc..). 2. Make sure you are properly hydrating yourself this week, eating, and getting enough sleep. You want to help your body fully recovery before your race on Saturday, but keep it in “race mode” by doing the shorter workouts combined with the high intensity components. 3. Go over ALL of your race gear, and make sure it is in working order (bike, wetsuit, goggles, etc…). 4. Download the athlete guide http://www.ironman.com/triathlon/events/americas/ironman-70.3/oceanside/race-info/athlete-guide.aspx#axzz4cATTkiF4 and go over it, towards the back of it, you have a really nice check list to remind you of what you might need during race day.
Tuesday: Continuing with your relaxed state of mind, work on your nutrition. At this point is OK to start eating a little bit more carbs and protein to help aide any last minute recovery (proteins), and to help keep your glycogen storage as full as possible (carbohydrates). Today is also a great day to focus on visualizing your race. If you have not visualized a race before, simply find a place you can relax and close your eyes (no electronics!) and picture the swim start, transitions, riding your bike, running, etc… This will help you stay focused come race day and it will help you stay calm during the week. Today should also include a workout. The workout should include a solid warm up, some speed work with rest in between, a nice cool down followed by stretching.
Wednesday: Hydration, nutrition, rest and sleep. Do not over-do it with your hydration, we are not camels! You can’t store liquids for race day! Pay attention to your body and the color of your urine (if it is a light yellow, straw color) you are good. If you are traveling (specially by plane), the cabin is kept at very low humidity level, so make sure you drink just a little bit more to help you with your hydration level. Long travel by car? Do some light stretching and or jogging for just a few minutes when you stop to put gas in the car, eat, and/or use the restroom. Remember, your brain knows you are racing on Saturday, you just need to keep your muscles activated this week with some “race speed” short sessions. Today should be the last “long workout” of the week. Even if you do a brick workout (like a swim/run), the duration of the workout should be around 60-75 minutes, combined.
Thursday: If you are traveling today, same rules apply (see Wednesday). If you are already at the race location, do not spend all day walking around at the expo. Do what you need to get done and leave. If you have not already figured out what to eat, or where to eat, this would be a great time to get that done. Remember to keep your hydration, nutrition and rest as a priority. Tonight should be your “carbo load” night… NOT the night before the race. A nice 30 min workout would be very beneficial to do today. Most of it should be warming up and cooling down, with some short hard efforts in between. At night, put the electronics away, get to bed early (even if you do not fall asleep), visualize the race, relax and smile. Yes, smile, in two days you are going to participate in 70.3 miles of racing. That is awesome, you should smile because that is a HUGE accomplishment.
Friday: Again, hydration, nutrition, rest and sleep. Try to get the bike checked in as early as you can. Make sure you attend the athlete briefing, and when you are in transition, picture yourself coming out of the water, running into transition, and running out with your bike. This process will help you a lot tomorrow during the race. You will not have access to swim at the ocean today, and your bike is racked, so go for a short quick run. Again, most of it will be just a warm up, some strides in between and a cool down. Eat throughout the day (but don’t pig out!), with your biggest meal being around lunch time, and a smaller meal at dinner. Put the electronics away and go to bed early. Are you going to be able to sleep? Probably not, or not that well. Will that matter come race day? Absolutely not. Just get to bed early and relax, tomorrow will be a great day for you.
RACE DAY: Eat breakfast early (about 2-3 hours before your predicted start time). Keep a water bottle with you, either with water or electrolytes, and sip on it once in a while as you are getting everything ready and traveling to transition. “Ignore what you are feeling”… race morning is an interesting time. You might feel amazing, you might not feel so good…regardless, this is not an indication of how the race will go, so don’t pay attention to it. Once you hit the water – ALL OF YOUR NERVOUSNES WILL GO AWAY. Stick to your plan. Get to transition EARLY, time flies by…check the bike again, load up all of the nutrition, and get your transition ready. Stick to your race plan, do not change anything at the last minute. Give yourself time to warm up, the best way to warm up for a swim is by swimming. You WILL be able to swim in the water before you start, take advantage of it. A nice 10 minute warm up will pay out big dividends during your swim leg. RELAX during the race, smile, thank the volunteers, and have a blast!!!
By Diego Olivieri
Head Coach/Owner of Triathlon Training Team. Diego has been involved in triathlons since 2001. He is a USAT, USMS and USA Swimming certified coach.