“People make their own luck by good strategy and even better preparation!” (modified from a Jack Canfield quote).
This quote doubles as sage advice. Aside from revealing training weakness, I love multi-sport for the lessons it teaches about race day strategy and preparation. After 18 years competing in triathlon, I am still humbled by new lessons learned.
Months of training build muscle memory, but without a specific race day plan, you might find yourself just off the podium or suffering a DNF. Race directors want athletes achieving personal success, and provide excellent pre-race athlete briefings. Facing unusually warm weather, John Salt and his staff went above and beyond to prepare 2017 & 2018 Barrelman participants for a safe finish. Ultimately though, it is up to the athlete to make sure a detailed, yet easy to implement plan is ready on race day. This could include double checking your gear bag before leaving home, packing extra swim goggles (or tinted goggles), rehearsing your path through transition, or driving the bike course early. Setting exact intervals to refuel/rehydrate on the bike, and adjusting for heat and humidity are essential. Athletes who finish exhausted but satisfied are not lucky…they’ve used good strategy and even better preparation.
Rehearsing swim-bike and bike-run transitions saves valuable seconds (or minutes). Where do I begin stripping my wet suit? What gear goes on first, second, third or while in motion on the bike or run? Scan your race results to find who had lightning-fast T1 or T2 times. You’ll usually find an someone who carefully planned out race day or has experienced enough race-day mistakes to learn from. It wasn’t luck…but instead strategy and preparation! At a local triathlon we organize yearly, it turns out the overall male winner had the 2nd fastest swim, bike, and run splits. How did he win? Faster transitions earned him a 5 second victory!
As you lie in bed too excited to sleep before Barrelman, rehearse each phase (swim, bike, run, transition, and nutrition). For 2019, I’ll be focusing on how to cut minutes off transitions and improve bike pacing, hydration, and nutrition to avoid bonking on the half marathon. I hope to see you all in Welland/Niagara Falls on September 22nd!
Shawn McNamara, Barrelman Ambassador