The triathlon season is coming to a close, but a lot of you still have your A race on the horizon. For the last several months you have been putting a lot of your disposable time into training. You may have had to take time off work or time away from your family to get it all in. Your hotel is booked, the car is gassed up, and your body is primed and ready. But we all know the caveat to long course racing is the unpredictability that goes along with it. However, with the right race plan, you can make sure to control all the controllable variables and find your way to the finish line with minimal detours.
With that, here is a tried and true race guide to get you to the finish line of your next 70.3 with a smile on your face (pending you did the work leading up to the race). Not every detail is there for your specific ability level, but you can easily adapt this plan based on the recommended effort levels. I am sure there are some little details missing, so if you think of anything else, drop us a comment below to let everyone else know!
Friday – Travel
Double and triple check you have packed everything, and then make a list of the things you will have to buy when you get there, if any. Don’t hesitate to make extra stops on the way to stretch the legs. Make sure you are hydrating.
Get to bed early, you won’t be sleeping well Saturday night…just trust me. Eat a balanced meal. Lay off the high fat, high sugar stuff.
Get in any training you need to early and take the rest of the day easy. Don’t get caught up walking around a ton at the expo and in the city. Make sure you get all your gear checked, organized, and checked in. Course recon is always a good idea. If you are racing a hilly course, ride the biggest climb to pick your gearing and feel it out. You can always ride the run course in the small ring as well to scope it out. Get your bike [and bags] to check-in if required. If not, hold onto that thing as long as you can…just in case.
Don’t get caught up with “carboloading.” It doesn’t do you any good because your body can only store so much glycogen. Just eat normally, but nothing super greasy, fatty, or out of the ordinary for your diet. Stay away from eating too much meat, since it takes much longer to digest. Make sure you are hydrating! Try and stay off your feet and get to bed early. Make one last check of your morning gear, and set it all out so you don’t have to get it all together in the morning. The more things you can have done tonight, the better.
Need to get up with enough time to eat, use the bathroom 4-5 times, get to your bike to check it out, pump up the tires, put your food and fluids on your bike, set up transition, get body marked, do a quick active warm up, get into your wetsuit, and get ready to ROCK! If you can get in the water and do a short warm up that is more ideal than just going for it with no warm up at all.
Keep your transition area as uncluttered as possible. It will save you a lot of time. Don’t forget where your bike is. The brain gets loopy coming out of the water in oxygen debt.
For breakfast, stick it to your normal morning meal. I usually do a larger breakfast for long course, in the 600-800 calorie range. It works for me, but you need just enough to top off the glycogen stores. Make sure you get it in within 2 hours of the race start. Have another 100-200 calories an hour before. Make sure you are hydrating all morning with both water and sports drink. Go heavier on the sports drink. Can’t overdo electrolytes on race day.
Unless you are back of the pack, try and line up toward the front if possible. It’s always better to be swam over than to have to swim over people. Trust me on this. This is also the best way to find some good feet to follow and get a draft. Make sure you are sighting every 8-10 strokes. At the turns, only breath to the side the buoy is on if possible. It will speed up your turn significantly. The first little bit is always rough, but once you get some clean water, just settle in and focus on technique and sighting. Lots of racing to go!
When you exit the water, bypass the suit strippers. Get your suit halfway off while you run. Goggles and cap as well.
Get in and get out! As soon as you get to your stuff, get that wetsuit off. The only thing you should have to do after that is put on your helmet, shades, and shoes. Socks are optional for 70.3, if you’ve trained without socks. DO NOT eat in transition unless you know you have an iron stomach.
Spin the legs out the first 5 minutes in the small chain ring. Start drinking fluids immediately, since you just went a while without drinking (clean water anyways). Shoot for 1-2 bottles an hour on the bike. 1 is the absolute minimum. If it’s warm, you will need more. If it’s hot, you will need a lot more. Go heavier on the electrolyte drink than water. Make sure you are eating something every 30 minutes, BUT don’t take your first solid food until about 10-15 minutes into the bike. We want to let the HR settle in before we start taking in solids. We want to take in a minimum of 300-350 calories per hour on the bike if you don’t have a previous nutrition plan. If you can take in more, go for it, because it’s always harder to take in sufficient calories on the run. DO NOT FORGET TO EAT AND DRINK! If you have to set an alarm or something, do it. This can and will determine your overall performance.
Overall effort on the bike is an upper Z2 and Z3 [Z2 for full iron]. Try to avoid threshold (Z4) or higher spikes. You should at no point start getting a burn going unless you are on a climb and can’t avoid pushing. Try and stay in aero any time you are going 15 mph or faster. If you are going less than that, you can sit up. If you need to sit up to stretch, don’t sweat it.
DON’T FORGET TO EAT AND DRINK! Did I mention that already?
Stop eating within 15 minutes of getting off the bike. But continue to drink.
In and out! Hang the bike, swap the shoes, and get out. You can carry your number and hat with you and put them on as you run. If you are carrying your nutrition, I’d advise you to put it in your pocket before you start the race. That way if you need extra on the bike, it’s there. Then you can just pull off the course on the run if you know you can handle what the course offers.
DON’T GO OUT TOO HARD! Take it easy, in fact, you should be running about :30-1 minute slower than your goal pace out of T2. You will build up to goal pace over the first 1-2 miles. Don’t start eating until you get your HR settled in. After that first feeding (should be about 10-15 minutes in) you need to be eating at least once every 45 min. 150-200 calories per hour minimum. Stick to sports drink on the run as well. If you are eating gels, you can get some water in with those to wash them down. BIG TIP: If you have never used the sports drink they have on course, dilute it with water. If you ever feel like you are hungry, you need to eat immediately! If you have to slow down a little bit to have lunch (that’s a joke), you are better off than trying to run hungry. If you start to feel cramps coming on, nip it in the bud. Take down extra electrolytes, or go for the chicken broth if its there. If you are just feeling fatigued, go for some coke. The simple sugars and caffeine will get you back in the game.
Don’t be afraid to walk through the aid stations. This gives you time to get in as much food and fluids as you need. It’s better to walk 30-60 seconds every mile or so than to walk the last 6 miles.
Once you get to the halfway point, do a self check and see if you can up the pace at all. Do the same every mile after 8. When it hurts, and it will, think about technique and how good it’s going to feel to finish. If you get really down, pretend each mile marker is the finish line and throw your arms up in victory at every mile. Sometimes you have to ninja the mind to get the body to cooperate.
Once you are within the last mile, it’s whatever you have left. And don’t forget to put your arms up at the finish line. Gotta get a good picture!
Don’t get into your wetsuit too early. You can easily dehydrate yourself sitting around in that hot box. It’s also a pain to use the port-o-potty in those things!
Make sure you check your shifting the morning of the race. Put your bike in the small chain ring and an easy gear for the start of the bike leg. Let your legs spin out at a high cadence for the first 5 minutes or so to get the muscles firing. Then follow your race plan.
Don’t forget your flat kit!
Put a water resistant lube on the arms and legs of your wetsuit so you can get out of it quickly. TriSlide works great.
- Bike Shoes
- Cycling Gear – for workouts
- Running Gear – for workouts
- Swim Trunks – for workouts
- Racing Kit – For race day
- Running Shoes
- Flat Kit
- Extra Tubes and CO2s
- Goggles (bring more than one pair if you got it)
- Nutrition and Drink Mixes
- Disc or Race Wheels (optional)
- Bike Pump
- Race Number Belt
- Your Inner Beast
If you would like to see how BPC can help you execute a solid race plan, don’t hesitate to contact us.