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
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, NSCA CSCS, is a USA Triathlon coach. He
has been working with endurance athletes since 2002 and is the
co-founder of One Step Beyond. He is usually feeling race ready
sometime during the swim.