Q: From a Team-Marsh Facebook fan: I have a race coming up and am nervous already. What does your typical “race week” look like?
Brandon Marsh answers:
A: The week before a race is a concern for all triathletes, no matter the distance or level of competition. And my advice is the same for everyone: keep it simple and don’t change too much. The three main components to focus on are training, diet and equipment. Let’s go over these, one by one:
Training: It’s normal for athletes to worry about not having done enough or having done too much. The best thing to realize is “the hay is in the barn”. In other words, the work is done. If you up the intensity or change your routine, you’ll likely cause more harm than good – especially if you over train. A general rule of thumb is to keep the same number of workout sessions, just make them shorter than usual. Decrease the duration of your workouts by about 30 to 50 percent, starting the Monday before race day. (Example: a three-hour bike ride should become no more than two hours.) In the last couple days, keep your training easy with a few quick bursts of effort in each workout to keep the juices flowing.
Diet: Gone are the days of sitting down to plates of pasta for a pre-race meal. Your best bet is to keep your diet as close to normal as possible. Since you are training less – and hopefully sleeping more – you will be recovering and replenishing your glycogen (energy) stores throughout the week. I like to avoid really high fiber foods in the couple days before a race, because it helps calm my digestive system. For me, that means no nuts and limited fruit and fibrous veggies. Also, hydrate well but not too much. Don’t forget electrolytes in your hydration routine to help retain fluids you’re sure to sweat out on race day. Hydration tip: if you only need to use the bathroom once a day, you aren’t hydrating enough. On the other hand, if you’re getting up every 20 minutes, back off the fluids a bit.
Equipment: If you use race wheels, I suggest you get them on your bike well in advance and go for a test drive. For other race-specific gear – such as a new tri suit, shoes or watch – try it on to be sure everything fits properly and will wear comfortably when you’re racing. No later than mid-week, you should get your gear ready and give it a good once-over. This will give you enough time to make tweaks or have something repaired. In case your bike is overdue for a tune-up, plan to get this done at least two weeks before race day – otherwise look it over yourself and don’t sweat it.
Good luck and have fun out there!
Amy Marsh is a four-time Ironman champion, two-time IronDistance champion, and was named the 2010 USAT Long Distance Triathlete of the Year. Brandon Marsh has been competing in triathlons since 1988, and can be counted on to be a top-10 contender in every event he enters. Got a question about swim-bike-run or sports nutrition for Team Marsh? Email them at firstname.lastname@example.org. ‘Like’ them on Facebook or follow on Twitter: Brandon @BrandonMarshTX and Amy @AmyCMarsh.