The Long Course Triathlon Execution Seminar, Lesson #7 — Race Week

In this lesson we’ll cover the last week of your training life in great detail. From workouts to logistics to food, we leave no stone unturned. The closer your event gets, the more stressful it can become; let our guidance give you hope that you can survive this week and still be ready for the big day!

~ Rich & Patrick


Part 1: Getting Mentally Ready to Race

Summary:  Nothing you do during race week is going to help you be faster on race day. But there are plenty of things you can do to mess it up. The number one thing you need to do during race week is simply line up everything you need so that you can simply focus on the actual event itself.

Race week is perhaps the most stressful week of your year. The logistics of trying to move yourself, your equipment and your family to a new town are intense. Add the fact you are dealing with the anxiety surrounding the race itself — which is built upon months and months of your training — and the combination is formidable. The experienced athlete gets crazy organized during race week so emotional (and extra energy) can be put towards the event itself.


  1. Checklists. Checklists. Checklists. What you want to do really is start long before race week finding out what it is you need to accomplish and all of the things that you’ll actually need and let the checklist do the work and the worrying for you such as printing out your itinerary and things like that.If you can get yourself well-organized, the race week will be far less stressful.
  2. Prepare Your Support Crew. They need to understand that this is your week. Whether you handle it well (or not), there will be times when you need to draw a line in the sand and take care of yourself. The sooner you can build in that expectation, the sooner everyone else will be much happier. If there’s any special support you need, be sure to ask.And, as always, do your best to find a way to say thanks…traveling hours to stand around watching people turn themselves into zombies isn’t typically high on anyone’s to-do list!
  3. Just Chill Out.  Just as you race in a box, so too much you deal with this last week. There will be countless things out of your control, from weather to travel to traffic to gear.Stay as relaxed as you can for as long as you can. Know that as long as you have time, you’ll be able to fix almost any problem!

Summary: Starting with Monday, your goal basically in this week is to do all of the sharpening stuff you want leading into your race.  The majority of workouts this week are skill focused, with a little bit of intensity. The effort isn’t there to build any last minute fitness (so if you miss the workout, don’t sweat it!) but rather to keep you sharp.

As you taper, your body begins to compensate. This process of absorbing your fitness makes you feel sluggish and off your game. It’s not that you are suddenly out of shape, so avoid that temptation to prove that you can, in fact, go hard — that’s what race day is for!

Part 2: The Workout Breakdown

Summary: Starting with Monday, your goal basically in this week is to do all of the sharpening stuff you want leading into your race.  The majority of workouts this week are skill focused, with a little bit of intensity. The effort isn’t there to build any last minute fitness (so if you miss the workout, don’t sweat it!) but rather to keep you sharp.


  1. You’ll do a swim on Monday with your wetsuit on, hopefully open water if you can. 
  2. If you have your bike and you haven’t shipped it for example, then you would do a bike workout on Tuesday, make sure everything is good and then pack it up Tuesday night. If you are without a bike, then an easy run with some two-minute intervals / pick ups would be a good substitute. 
  3. Chances are you’re traveling on Wednesday.  On a travel day, your number one goal is simply to stay loose and not get boxed into a plane or in a car.  Move around a lot and take care of yourself so when you get your feet on the ground in your new town, you’ll be able to get to wherever it is you need to be, get settled, get fed, and then put your bike together if you can.  Once you’ve done all of that, then you can go for a short run if you have time. 
  4. Your goal on Thursday morning is to get a ride in on your bike, preferably on the course itself. We do this early so if there are any problems, you have ample time to get them all fixed. If you can, get your bike out on the course and do the critical sections of the course – up to 30 miles of easy riding maximum – with a friend driving so you can leapfrog around to where you want to go. You can follow that up with a short run later in the day. 
  5. If you didn’t have to check in on Thursday, then Friday you check in.  Get in an easy swim at about race start time so you can orient yourself relative to the position of the sun, etc.  Maybe a light run afterwards, and then you’re just prepping for Saturday’s final equipment drop and staying off your feet. 
  6. Saturday is hitting the last 24 hours to race, when you need to be ultra focused. Avoid any workouts unless you are going out of your skull, as they are just too logistically complicating. Get to the drop off point in the middle of the given window — not too early or too late as the lines will be longer. After checking all your stuff, the top Saturday priorities become eating and resting.

Part 3: The Last 18 Hours to Race

Summary: This is officially go time; you have just dropped off your gear in transition. Looking at your watch you have just enough time between now and gun time to do something dangerous. Your focus points remain the same: low stress, well-nourished, and rested. Here’s how we recommend you do it…


  1. Plan A Big Lunch. Find a nice place and get two meals; something like a small pizza and an entree. Eat as well as you can, drink up, and take the rest home for laters. Congratulations…now you don’t have to go out for dinner. Bonus is that you’ll have a mini food coma that will make you want to rest. 
  2. Chill Out. Break out a book or a DVD or even check out a movie. Whatever your brain candy, make sure it has very little to do with activity. 
  3. Use any brief spurts of energy to organize your special needs items for the morning, as well as your gear. Use those checklists and be sure to leave a note in case you might forget anything critical (wetsuit, race chip, etc.). 
  4. If you do have to eat dinner, we recommend cooking in at your condo, as most places will be busy and you’ll have to wait. If going out is the only option, keep it simple and eat early, as in sitting down at 5pm. 
  5. After dinner, take some time to do one or two mental walkthroughs of your day. At the very least, do the “best case” scenario and then do a version full of “what if’s”. This way you get clarity, but also have some decision-making already done before the gun goes off. 
  6. Relax, try to sleep, stare at the ceiling, etc. 
  7. If you wake up in the middle of the night — or just can’t sleep! — consider taking in some liquid calories. Think Ensure, Boost or similar product. 
  8. Get up for an early breakfast as you would normally do (nothing new, nothing crazy!). Pull your things and crew together and head down to the transition area. Ideally you are there by 5:30 so you have plenty of time to get ready.

We Hope You Enjoyed Our Race Execution Seminar!

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