Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Importance of Having a Race Plan

From the Training Peaks Blog

If you are like me, you probably have more things that you want to get done each day than you can fit in. So how do we make sure we get the critical things done? We plan, of course. We use tools like TrainingPeaks to manage our training and nutrition planning, and some other calendar for work and home activities. Those who are more organized and plan effectively are the ones that seem to get everything done.
triathlon race plan
The same is true in preparing for your race. Those with a plan tend to be more successful. When we engage in any form of competitive sports, it is important to plan our before, during, and after race activities. We aremuch less likely to forget a critical component of competition if we have thought them through and committed them to paper (or computer). It’s very similar to going grocery shopping without a list. You may be successful in getting everything you need, but there is a good chance something will be forgotten.
Let’s look at a few situations and relate them to a competition situation:
grocery shopping
Going shopping without a shopping list:
  • One scenario in this case is that you leave the store with only half of the things you needed. This might be like forgetting your sports drink for the bike leg of your triathlon and the course was not providing any at the aid stations. Or worse, you leave your running shoes at home for your half-marathon. Neither is a good situation to be in.
  • Another scenario is that you end up filling your cart with everything you see that looks good. This is like hitting the first 3 miles of your marathon way to fast because you feel good and get caught up in the crowd. Your legs will be hurting later just like your wallet would be.
Going shopping with a shopping list
  • You’ve created a list after looking at your upcoming meal needs and going through the pantry, refrigerator, and cabinets. You brought it with you to the store and used it to guide you through the aisles. You ended up with everything you needed.
  • Granted there might have been some last minute decisions that needed to be made, like do you get the extra pound of chicken because it was on sale? Or maybe you had to decide to get the raspberries as they were out of the blackberries. But you came with a list so those decisions were likely easier to make. This is the ideal race plan situation.
Planning what to do and when (and yes, sometimes in excruciating detail) will make for a much better event for you. If the coach of a team sport doesn’t have a game plan, there is a good chance they’ll get beat, or at least not perform their best. Endurance sport athletes need to do the same thing. Create a game plan so you show up completely prepared.
These plans should contain information pertaining to:
  • when to be where and what to do
  • start at least the day before the event
planning your race strategy
  • before the event
  • during the event
  • after the event
Physical Preparation
  • Final training sessions
  • Warm-up and cool down routines
  • in-competition plans
  • Consider including contingency plans for potential hitches
Mental Preparation (the mind needs to be strong, too!)
Packing List (so we don’t forget anything!)

With a solid plan you will find your pre-competition stress will be greatly reduced, and you will have more time to focus on your performance. Happy planning!

Nicole Drummer is author of How to Write a Triathlon Race Plan, available on Mindset Triathlon. She is a USA Triathlon certified coach, and also coaches triathlon for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Team In Training program. Learn more about Coach Nicole at

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