Over the winter I am sure you have all been putting in enough training to get ready for the competition season. Giving some forward planning for the race day will reduce the pressure of the day and allow you to make the most of this training.
You have done the hard work, its now about eliminating those race day nerves and taking advantage of what you have achieved.
We have generated a list of things to consider, which will be available on our website in the form of a checklist, so you download it to use before your race.
Non discipline specific items
.BT membership card
If you have registered with British Triathlon and are taking advantage of any discount on entry costs, you may be asked to show your membership card. Having it with you might be an advantage.
If you have been sent your race registration pack, which might include all of your race numbers etc, you will need to bring this with you. Most of the time these are supplied at the race, but occasionally they will be sent out to you.
Directions to the event
An obvious thing, but I have known athletes to travel to the wrong venue. So make sure you have the address, including the post code for the sat nav.
Again, an obvious thing, but you might need to pay for some food, or there might be a bargain piece of kit at an event shop.
You will be out in the sun for a while, so make sure you have plenty of sunscreen on, and that it;s applied regularly. Remember you are swimming so make sure its waterproof.
A good triathlon watch is nice to have and will allow you to pace the race as you have planned, it will also ensure you arrive at the start on time.
It may sound a mad thing, but some races start early, or you have to set the transition the night before. Having a torch will help if it's dark.
If you are not intending on using a race belt, you will need to attach your race numbers, safety pins are the simplest way to do this. Having a few pins to repair any kit issues might also be useful.
Phone with charger lead
Again obvious, without it how are you going to post your success ? Bringing a charger lead will allow you to charge your phone, there are always USB ports available somewhere, but you will need a lead.
Always a good idea to have a pair of scissors just in case. Also useful for trimming any race numbers or to cut electrical tape.
Attaching your race number to your race belt, means making a hole in the race number, doing this with a hole punch makes it a lot easier.
Keeping hydrated before and during your race is important, so having a drinks bottle permanently attached to your hand whilst you are getting ready for the race is not a bad thing.
Things go wrong occasionally when you transport your bike. So having the right tools available to fix these small things is handy. Make sure you don’t rely on the kit on your bike as that is for the race issues and has been packed before you come. Setting up is stressful so don’t mess with kit you have prepared for the race, use other tools.
Again – punctures happen, or you may have to adjust the pressures dependent on conditions. Remember if you leave your bike in transition over night, temperatures change so the pressure will change too. Having a track pump to make things easy to correct is wise.
First aid kit
First aid stations are likely to be at the event, so any first aid issues will be dealt with by them. However plasters are always handy to deal with blisters, so having a first aid kit would help.
Post racing you may be standing around for quite some time, waiting to pick up your prize, so some warm clothing to change into is a must have.
Either to use in transition, drying your feet after the swim, or just to dry off after the race, again a must have item.
Used to pack any wet gear after your race, or as cover for your bike saddle when leaving it over night in transition.
You never know, the toilets may have run out of toilet paper, so bringing your own is always sensible.
To repair any item that might need it. More importantly to attach any gels to the bike or if you have several laps in your race, attach a strip for each lap and this will help remind you how many laps you have to go.
Swim specific items
Open water swims will sometimes be in cold water, a wetsuit will help reduce the cold, They also aid with buoyancy and may be an advantage if your swim leg isn’t your strength. Remember though there are restrictions on the use of wetsuits when the temperature of the water rises. So be prepared that you may not be allowed to wear them.
Lubrication designed for use with wetsuits will help prevent rubbing and will relieve any chafed or dry skin. This will also help with sliding into and out of the wetsuit. Adding some extra lubrication to the outside of the wrists and ankles will aid removal, when the wetsuit turns inside out.
Always a sensible addition to your kit when swimming open water and some events make it compulsory to have them if you are not swimming in a wetsuit. Cold water can be a shock to the system and even a strong swimmer may get affected by this cold shock. Having a flotation device with you, even when there are lifeguards available, is a smart move.
Always have two pairs with you, one with tinted lenses in case its sunny and another slightly lighter for those dull days. Having two pairs also give you protection for when a strap breaks just before you need them. Remember to wear the goggles under your hat so if the goggles are knocked off in the race you won’t lose them altogether.
You will need a costume to race in when not wearing a wetsuit, but also to have under your wet suit, for when its removed for the bike and run legs. A good quality tri-suit will dry quickly after the swim and is more comfortable than a swim suit in the bike leg.
Ear / nose plugs
If you suffer from water entering your ears or nose then the use of a plugs will help prevent this. If you suffer from dizziness after a swim it maybe because of water entering your ears. Ear plugs again will prevent this.
Always have two swim hats, the second to protect the goggles from being lost in the open water swim. Most competitions will supply you with a swim hat. Put your hat on first, followed by your goggles, then the supplied hat or your second hat to protect the goggles being lost.
Bike specific items
An obvious statement, but easily forgotten when you are thinking of everything else, make sure you give the bike a check over after the journey to the competition. The British Triathlon M check is a good process to follow.
Of course if you don’t have a saddle fitted that allows you to rack your bike on the rear of the saddle, then you should fit a Rak-it – BECAUSE EVERY SECOND COUNTS.
You won’t be able to race without an approved bike helmet, this will normally be checked as you enter transition to rack your bike. Choice of helmet maybe better made on the day, depending on conditions. So if you have more than one helmet bring them with you in case the weather conditions don’t match the forecasts.
Make sure the strap is correctly adjusted, prior to going to the competition.
Appropriate shoes for riding on the bike are essential, attaching them to the bike to allow you to do a flying mount, is something that needs practicing so only attempt it after you get proficient.
If choosing new bike shoes and intending to perform flying starts, make sure you have purchase shoes with heel loop to attach the elastic bands and with a single strap for easy fastening.
If you have practiced flying mounts, then you will need elastic bands to hold the shoes in the correct plain on the bike. Make sure they are fine enough to break or you will add extra resistance to the ride.
Puncture repair kit
On the longer triathlon events repairing a puncture will be worth doing. So having some way of repairing a puncture is essential. The kit should contain –
Dependent on competition distance you may require more than one bottle, fit them to the bike so they are ready for use after the swim.
The weather conditions may not be what is forecast, having a jacket with you allows you to deal with any changes.
Dependent on time of day and roads competing on, bike lights may be compulsory. Weather conditions may also require you to fit rear lights if on public roads.
If you haven’t got a watch to give you information about your pace a bike computer is an alternative you might want to consider.
Always sensible to have glasses of some kind for the bike ride, mount these onto the helmet if your helmet allows, that way you just have to put the helmet on and your transition will be quicker.
Mount these onto the bike frame with electrical tape, or if you are using, on the race belt.
Make sure you have the race belt fitted with any energy gels or bars, along with your race number. Remember for the bike leg the race number should be shown on your back.
Run specific items
Appropriate shoes for the competition you have entered, consider the distance and terrane, to make sure the shoes give you the correct fit and grip.
Cap / Visor
To give you some protection from the sun an appropriate hat or visor should be worn, especially if the weather is hot and a longer distance. Protecting your eyes from the sun prevents squinting, which relaxes the face muscles and reduces tension in the body, improving your run efficiency.
Race day nerves and problem handling
There are situations that will pop up in a race that no one will be able to anticipate,. The simple issues you should practice, that way they are second nature when you come across them.
For those unusual situations follow some simple guidelines.
Googles can get knocked off in a swim, minimise the possibility by wearing two swim hats. Put your own hat on first then your goggles followed by the swim hat supplied by the event organiser. By wearing your goggles under a hat you are very unlikely to loose the goggles completely.
If however you do – take your time, spend a few seconds and look for the goggles, if you don’t find them quickly move on. If you are uncomfortable with swimming without goggles, perhaps close your eyes or one eye when your face is underwater, opening them to site and breath.
Stay calm and make your short-term focus – “getting through the swim”. There is plenty of the race left to still do well.
Bike - Mechanical problems during the bike leg
Again its primarily about preparation, punctures or dropped or even broken chains are very stressful, so make sure you follow some simple guidelines.
You have convinced yourself that on the longer rides / runs that dropped fuel, be it a drink or a gel is now going to ruin your race.
If you have a strategy in place it will be less of a problem.