Monday, February 1, 2016

Pre-Race Protocol

by Sue Aquila

This season, I will have completed at least two 140.6 races, five 70.3 races and RAGBRAI (I have been told this is a competitive eating contest with a cycling problem). I have had ample practice to develop my pre-race protocol. What have I learned? Before I even start my pre-race protocol I need to have my family, work and training in their respective sweet spots.

  • Family - I make sure things are right at home. Having a solid emotional and personal foundation is a key part of my success when racing. If I am hurting or vulnerable emotionally, I will not have the emotional strength to race well. To dig deep, you need to have the mental real estate available for excavation.

  • Work - I will never catch up. I don’t try. I keep my work pace normal leading up to my departure. Trying to get ahead will leave me racing behind with accumulated fatigue.

  • Training - As I shed fatigue with my taper, I may feel the urge to prove to myself that I am ready to race. I resist the urge to blow up in training by following the plan and training alone.

A quick note on packing for a race: I have learned to limit my choices. If I get to the race site having to decide between wheelsets or race kits, I will spend a lot of mental energy trying to make the right decision. If I have no choice, I will be happier and less stressed.

I have a checklist that I use for every race to pack, prepare my race day bags and double check my transition area. I like to arrive to the race site two days early. This gives me time to handle any travel delays, build my bike and shed some travel fatigue. Usually the travel day itself is a training rest day and a time to get everything sorted for the race.

I make sure to take a short nap, and hydrate and eat well. Two days out I eat a normal diet (with some reduction in fiber) and sleep normally. One day out, I follow a high carb/low protein/low fiber diet that works very well for me. I hydrate with electrolytes throughout the day and stay on the low end of my caffeine needs -- depressing but necessary.

After years of practice, I have found a pre-race schedule and diet that work for me. Find your pre-race protocol. Practice. Refine. Gain confidence and race hard.

Sue started her triathlon journey with a 50lb weight loss and continues as a Kona qualifier. As a successful entrepreneur, she believes that, “You can run your business like your training and your training like your business!” As a coach (USAT Certified), she helps athletes to develop success in all areas of their lives: family, health and work. She blogs regularly at You can find her on Twitter @fewoman.
Click to share on Twitter and Facebook
      Tweet This!