Pre-race preparation

So tomorrow is the event that I have spent the last four months training for.

Well, if you're reading this post on the day that I wrote it, the event is tomorrow.  But if you're reading this post after that, well I'm either in the middle of dragging myself up and down Box Hill or I have completed/failed said event.

But let's not get bogged down in the paradoxes of time and focus on what this post is about: pre-race preparation. And when I'm talking about pre-race preparation I don't mean running through frozen Siberian rivers and fields, in order to improve my racing constitution.

It's a bit late for that, the training should have already been done...

No, I'm referring to the prep that you need to put in, in the days and hours leading up to an event. The amount of prep really will depend on the type of race you're doing (whether that's a run, duathlon or triathlon), the distance and location.

My main event last year was a half-iron distance triathlon, which required two nights of camping, my wetsuit for the open water swim, obviously my bike, cycling equipment, running gear and a full range of nutrition to get me through the event and recover afterwards.

Mental note: Don't forget the bike

As you can imagine, this took an awful lot of organisation. So working as a team with Mrs Trihard, I got on with the highly complicated task of making sure I had everything I needed for the event, while she had the simple job of making sure we had everything reuqired for a family of four's two-night camping trip, which would also involve entertaining two children for about six hours in the pouring rain.

So let's run through my checklist of things I often forget when I don't follow my own advice of getting everything ready in advance.


You may be new to this blog and new to triathlon so I'll explain that every triathlon begins with a swim. Sometimes this is a pool, sometimes this is in a lake or the sea but generally the same rules apply - nudity is frowned upon so you're going to need a swimming costume of some description.

Artist's impression of swimwear

Even better is a triathlon suit, which includes padding in the undercarriage, so you can get on to your bike as quick as possible. And if it's an open water swim, depending on the water temperature, you may need a wetsuit. And don't forget your goggles.

Despite the dubious weather forecast for tomorrow, it is a duathlon so I won't be needing my wetsuit but will be wearing my Tri-suit, with some extra layers on top.


For the cycling section (NEWSFLASH) you're going to need a bike. But perhaps almost as importantly you're going to need a helmet. While it's not illegal to cycle around the UK roads without a helmet, in Triathlon you can't race without one. So don't forget it!

Soon after getting into multi-sports I invested in cycling shoes and cleats. These are those funny shoes that you have to clip in and out of and makes you walk like you're constipated when you're off the bike.

I once turned up for a club cycle (which I had driven to with my bike in the car) and realised I hadn't packed my shoes. Luckily I was early enough and near enough to drive back home to get them but I wouldn't have been so fortunate if I'd been at a race.

While it's possible to cycle in your running shoes it's less efficient than cycling with cleats. And you can't underestimate the psychological impact of realising you haven't got something you need (even if it's still possible to race without it) as I once discovered after leaving my sunglasses in a portaloo, moments before the start of a race.

However you also need to check that you have the necessary tools and equipment to fix any minor problems you may have during the event. I have cycled six miles on a flat tyre in an event before (which didn't do either me or the bike much good) so swiftly invested in a puncture repair kit and spare inner tubes.

In fact I got a puncture on my last event so I'd better try to remember to put a new inner tube in before I set off tomorrow morning.

I was feeling rather deflated, see what I did there?

If you rack up a lot of miles its good practice to get your bike checked out by a reputable bike shop every few months (or do it yourself but I'm incredibly mechanically inept) but certainly if you have a race coming up.

Luckily I had a spectacular accident a few weeks ago, which left my handlebars (and almost my shoulder) pointing in a direction they shouldn't be, so have had it looked quite recently. However after writing this I'll be giving my bike a clean and lubricating the chain and gears and checking that everything is in working order.

I'm feeling pumped for this event. See what I did there?

Let's hope it is because I am being picked up by a friend at 6.15am tomorrow and haven't got time to get it looked at if there is a problem...


Make sure you've packed your running shoes.


Some events you'll need to register once you arrive, others you'll get your race number and timing chip in the post beforehand. If it's the latter make sure you keep it in a safe place so you can find it the night before an event to put with your other gear.

You'll also need a racing belt or safety pins to attach your racing number and don't forget your timing chip, which I did the other week, otherwise you won't get an official time.

If you have to register before the event check not only what times registration opens but also what time it closes. With some big triathlon events you have to register the day before, which can obviously spoil your event if you turn up on the day and you're not able to race!

This hasn't happened to me but me and my friend (who's ugly mug you can see above) cut it very fine the other week when we turned up for registration just as it was closing.


One of the golden rules is not to try anything on race day that you have not tried before. But it's also important to make sure you have fuel to keep you going through the event.

If it's a run I stick to energy gels but if it's a triathlon or duathlon I also have a carbohydrate or caffeine drink (ready mixed sports drink, I wouldn't recommend trying to boil the kettle on your bike) to keep me going.

Don't eat it all at once

I also have a recovery drink waiting for me afterwards to try and get me feeling normal as quick as possible after the event.

Lighten the load

Perhaps the most important bit of pre-race prep is taking care of any bowel business. As my friend Ali (whose ugly mug you can see above) once told me - you're never going to get a PB (personal best) if you've got a round jammed in the chamber.

Now this can be a difficult one, particularly if you're up earlier than normal for the event which messes with your normal, er, schedule. But if possible try and clear as much out as you can at home, because there are always horrendous queues for what are generally horrendous toilets, already in a horrendous state, at events (and this is coming from someone that has been to Glastonbury many times).

And there's nothing worse than your gut telling you mid-race that you've got a late arrival , even if you can find a toilet. I would have probably  finished the Vitruvian Half Iron distance race a good five minutes earlier (Mrs Trihard might argue 45) if I hadn't had to have a portaloo stop on the run section.

And with that delightful image, I'll bid you farewell.

If you've liked what you've read, please follow me on Twitter @Therealmrtrihard.


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