Race readiness is not just about making sure your bike doesn't have a flat tire the day before, though it can surely start there. It's about having the right mindset to go hard, stay tough, and overcome any obstacles thrown in your way.
But let's start with the mechanical and gear. If your goggles have been fogging up as soon as you get in the water, it's time to get a new pair. You don't want the start of your big event to start with barely being able to see the buoys. Right?
If you didn't get your spring bike tune up, you'll want to check and consider brake pads, tire wear and tear, and chain/cassette grime. At the very least, give your chain a good cleaning and lubrication as the friction from excessive grime will slow you down. If the chain has ridden a few thousand miles, it is time to get a new one.
Can you change a flat tire? Do you have a flat tire kit on your bike with the correct valve length?
On the run, do you have quick laces? Are your racing flats worn out? Do you own racing flats? Do you know where they are?
The preparation of your gear seems simple, but it is easy to fall out of the habit of making sure things are going to work.
Your physical readiness for the events is also pretty key, but I'm sure you know that. In the weeks leading up to your key event you should be doing more and more specific work and race rehearsals for that race. It's not all whimsical ride time and happy walks in the park. Unless, of course, you're doing a happy walk in the park event.
If you use heart rate or power threshold levels, you should have a very specific idea of the zones you'll be competing in.
Your mental preparation is as important if not more so than the gear and physical preparation. Whether you're doing a local 5k or an international Ironman®, there is a certain amount of mental prep you should go through.
You should have a good idea of how much time your race will take. Will you be going for 10 hours or 16 hours?
You should be prepared for the level of discomfort you're getting ready to experience, whether it's the agonizing burn of pushing the last mile of a 5k, or the insidious fatigue and breakdown of a long distance event.
You should have a particular race approach and strategy, even if it's an event as short as 30 seconds.
You should know what you plan to do and should be ready to do what you planned to do.
You should be ready for things going wrong and be flexible enough to adapt.
In short, your mind should be as strong as the vessel carrying it.
Marty Gaal, CSCS, is a USA Triathlon coach who lives in the Triangle area of North Carolina. Marty has been coaching endurance athletes since 2002. You can read more about OSB coaching services at www.osbmultisport.com.
One Step Beyond is the producer of the Powerstroke®: Speed through force and form freestyle technique DVD, intended to help new to intermediate triathlon swimmers become faster and more powerful in the water.