Ready, Set, Race! Part 1 - Essentials for Three Weeks Prior to Your Race


Dress Rehearsal - Three weeks out before a big event is typically the overload week before taper. You usually have your last long workout this week which is the perfect time to do a “dress rehearsal” for the race. Eat what you plan to eat as your pre-race breakfast and be sure that it works for you doing your long workout. Typically your pre-race breakfast should be mostly simple carbohydrates (no fiber or you’ll be visiting the port-o-potty more than you care to admit!). The last long workout is a perfect time for you to wear what you plan to wear for the race and make sure it’s going to work for you. As you should be doing during all workouts longer than an hour, you should also practice your fueling. It’s helpful to find out what the race will offer for fueling options during the race (especially the sports drink) and practice taking that fuel. The less you have to carry during the race, the better off you will be! If you need to make any changes to what you are going to eat or wear, you’ll have plenty of time to try it out again during another workout. If you are competing in a triathlon, be sure to practice the transitions as well.

Gear Check – The dress rehearsal allows you to check your gear and make sure that it works for you. If you are competing in a triathlon, now is the time to take your bike in for a pre-race tune-up. Don’t wait until the week before or you won’t have time to ride on it before the race. It’s best to schedule an appointment with your local bike shop to be sure that they can fit you in.

Set Race Goals – Talk with your coach and determine your racing strategy. Are you going to go by pace or heart rate/power or a combination of these? While you may also have a place goal, it is best to set goals based on things that you can control.


Get Organized – Don’t leave your organization to the last minute! Double check that you have your race registration and that your travel plans are solidified. Print out your registration confirmation, directions, packet pickup information, course map, and all other race information. It’s good to have a hard copy of this just in case your tech devices fail. Determine travel time to race and plan to arrive at least 1 hour before a running race and at least 1.5 hours before a triathlon.

Mental Preparation – Now that your race goals have been set, you should start practicing race visualization. The most effective visualization techniques incorporate all 5 senses – sight, sound, touch, smell, taste and feel. Decide on some mantras (positive affirmations only) that will keep you motivated and focused.


Checklists - Make a list of what to bring so that you don’t forget anything in the busy days leading into the race. Making a list can help you realize what items you need to purchase before the race and get those before you get on the road.

Rest and Relaxation – The week before the race is the time to really rest your body. All of your fitness gains have already been made in your training, and you should focus on getting as much rest as possible to feel fresh and ready to go on race day. The week before is a good time get a pre-race massage (at least 2 days before the race) and work out any tightness you have in your muscles. Good nutrition is also key this week!

Continue Mental Preparation - Race visualization can be practiced any time and should be practiced as often as possible!

This post was written by Coach, Courtney Kutler.

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