Lose your goggles during the swim, get a flat tire on race day, drop all your nutrition early in the race, pouring rain, gale force winds…these things are unfortunate on race day, but they don’t have to wreck your day. I have (and I’m sure you have, too) heard so many stories about something going wrong during someone’s race and wrecking his or her day. Yes, sometimes things happen and you might have to adjust some of your goals on race day, but don’t let it wreck your race! People lose goggles and nutrition all the time. Flat tires happen and sometimes it’s hotter than hell out on the race course. Knowing these things can happen and preparing for the unexpected will make you ready to face most challenges that present themselves to you on race day. I suggest that you put a 30 minute “mind training” session into your schedule, even at least once per month. If you don’t schedule it in and never think about how to solve certain problems on race day, when they happen, it could wreck or end your day because you weren’t sure about how to go solving the issue. Below are some solutions on what to do if any of these problems happen to you on race day.
- Lose your goggles on the swim: This doesn’t happen too often, but it can. With all the arms and legs flailing every direction, a flying limb could easily hit you in the head, knocking off your goggles. One solution is to wear your goggles under your swim cap, that way it will make it almost impossible for someone to knock them off your head. Another thing you can do is to practice swimming a few lengths in the pool without your goggles. A lot of people can’t put their faces in the water without having goggles on. If this is you and you have your goggles knocked off, you’ll be swimming the rest of the race uncomfortably and with a very bad body position, more than likely. You just have to practice it once to make sure you’ll be ok if it ever happens to you!
- Flat tire: This one goes without saying, you should be able to change a flat, but you would be amazed at how many triathletes don’t know how to change a tire, whether it be a clincher or tubular. If you don’t know how to change a tire or can’t change one fast, then practice changing one in your free time. There are plenty of YouTube videos online that can show you how to change a flat. *Tip- I use tubular tires on race day and I always have a small razor blade taped on my bike, just in case I have a flat, I can cut my tire and get it off the rim much faster.
- Lose all your nutrition: This happens all the time to athletes, myself included. Sometimes we go over a bump and lose an important water bottle or have a gel flask pop out of our jersey unnoticed. Unfortunate as it is, there are aid stations! Find out what nutrition will be available on the course come race day and spend some time using it during your training sessions. That way you’ll know whether or not your body works with what’s available. And of course, make sure you use good tape if taping food onto your bike and have water bottle holders that won’t launch your important 500 calorie bottle after hitting the first bump on the race course.
- Rain and extreme weather conditions: Mother nature isn’t going to hold back just because you want to have a PB on race day. Be prepared for all weather conditions by having the right gear, like rainwear and cold weather clothes. If it’s hot out, you should know how you’re going to pace as well as how to change your nutrition plan to accommodate for the weather. Most of all, make sure you get out there and train in these conditions! If you are always a fair weather cyclist and runner, you’ll be in trouble if weather turns for the worst on race day. You don’t always have to ride in rainy, windy conditions, but when you do, you’ll be more prepared for race day. Plus, riding in bad conditions is great for character building!
- Mechanical issue, such as seat post slipping: I thought I would add one more example, as this has happened to me and has probably happened to you or someone you know. Parts come loose on bikes all the time…what do you do if this happens to you on race day? Carry a tiny multi tool with you on the bike course. A multi tool can easily fit inside your jersey pocket or somewhere on your bike and can fix many problems you might encounter on the bike course, such as your seat post slipping.
I hope these tips help you prepare for your next race. It doesn’t hurt to be prepared for anything on race day. We spend thousands of dollars on race wheels, aero helmets, and more, just to save a few seconds or minutes, and those time savings can go down the drain if you can’t change a flat quickly or have to finish the ride with your seat slipping below your natural riding position. Like the goat says below, be prepared!