By Marilyn Chychota

USAT, Safe Sport, Red Cross, IronAthlete

Thu Feb 13, 2020

people wearing running shoes

Race season is fast approaching for most of us in the Northern Hemisphere. There are some key things you need to start thinking about as you get within 8 to 16 weeks of your main event. The closer the race, the more specific you need to be with details.

You can think about things in terms of categories.


You should be training with as much of the gear you’ll be racing with as possible.

Bike choice – A lot of athletes opt for their road bikes, cross bikes or mountain bikes through the winter. Start making it mandatory to do all your riding on the bike you’ll be racing on. 

Make sure the gearing that you intend to use is on your race bike and you are comfortable with it.

Running shoes – Be sure you are doing all your key run sessions in the shoes you’ll be racing in. Know the socks you’ll want to use. Use them for long runs, key bricks and hard running.

Wheels – While you don’t need to train on your race wheels, you do need to check them out from sitting all winter. Get the hubs and tires checked and the spokes trued. Know what wheels you are going to want to use for the course you’ll race on.

Hydration systems – Prepare and practice with your hydration system for the bike and run exactly as you’ll use them on race day.

Wetsuit – Make sure your wetsuit or swim skin is in good condition and do some key swims in them. Use the goggles you intend to race in.

Accessories – Get comfortable with little things you intend to use like lace locks, hats and arm coolers.

Terrain and Weather :

Start to do your key sessions on similar terrain as you’ll experience on race day.

If you are headed to a hot race, be sure you start your heat prep strategies. Use the techniques to prep for the heat as well as practice your cooling techniques that you will use for the race.

If it’s possible to simulate conditions such as road surface and environment, include them for key sessions.


The closer the event, the more specific your training should be.

Plan training that is very specific to what you’ll be racing — perceived efforts, paces, watts, heart rates and feel for exact race specifics.

Plan key sessions on the same days as your race. For example, if your race is a Sunday, then it’s not a good idea to always have Sunday as your rest day. Plan a key session like your long run or a key brick on Sundays.


Practice “day before” race nutrition and race morning nutrition for key training days. Include what, amount, and timing of it all.

Practice your actual race day nutrition and under the same stress as you’ll face race day, like heat and intensity.

Warmups and Mental Prep:

Be sure you are comfortable with your warmup. Understand and practice the timing, actual movements and intensity of it.

Go through the mental prep you intend to use race morning and throughout the race to achieve your goals.

By the time you get to the race, everything should seem like second nature. Things always pop up race day, but if you’ve spent plenty of time with all the things you can anticipate before your main event, you’ll go in feeling much more confident and relaxed.


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