We have all been at the start line with that nervous feeling asking ourselves, “What will today bring?” “How will I perform?” This is common no matter what level athlete you are. The pre-race jitters for the fear of the unknown is common in any sport. But unlike almost any other sport much of triathlon has not adopted the concept of the PRERACE PLAN.

Football teams practice for weeks preparing for one team and outlining their pregame strategy for how they will compete on game day. Ice Hockey teams watch hours of tape and go into a game knowing what to expect and how to react to any given situation. A golf player knows exactly what club to use in any situation and he studies graphs/charts/maps of each course knowing every detail of that course inside and out.

For some reason, many triathletes get to the start line and say, “Well I’m not sure how it’s going to happen, but I hope I get the finish line some time today.” This triathlete has trained hours on end and sacrificed so much to get to that start line. Why would this athlete risk throwing out all of that commitment by going into the race not knowing what to expect from their body, the course, the conditions, etc.?

Every triathlete, or runner for that matter, must go into a given race with an outline of how they should perform on race day, what the course will be like and the challenges it will provide, how the conditions will affect the race/athlete, what paces/HR/effort the athlete should be maintaining throughout the race, the nutrition demands of the individual athlete, plus anything else that might be pertinent to the individual/race. Not only does this prerace plan give the athlete an outline as to what to expect on race day, it also helps calm the athlete prior to the race because the fear of the unknown is lessened. Yes there will be variables and situations where the athlete must stray from the plan throughout the race, but if the plan is solid and the paces and nutrition are built for the specific athlete those situations when the athlete must veer from the plan are lessened.

Let’s look at Ironman Texas Champion Matt Hansen’s interview on Matt knew exactly what he wanted to accomplish on the swim, bike, and run before going into the race. He knew the bike would be hot so he would have to take in more calories to adjust for the warmer conditions. He knew exactly what wattage he wanted to hold and instead of going harder he went 20 watts easier because he knew the run was going to be tough. He knew exactly where he wanted to run effort/pace throughout the run. He knew all of these things because he went into the race with a game plan. Yes, Matt is a multiple Ironman Champion who knows his racing and he knows his body. This is all the more reason every other athlete should have a race plan going into a race. Matt could race off of feel if he wanted to because he has raced so much in the past. Most amateur athletes do not race nearly as much as any pro so their unknown is so much greater.

You must have a strategy going into a race. Whether your coach writes the plan out for you, or you sit down and write your own plan. The benefit of having a coach write a plan for you is that it is realistic and attainable. Yes a coach’s plan should test you and push you, but it is based on what you have shown in your training and racing. Sometimes we expect to perform outside of our abilities on race day which could skew our ability to write our own prerace plan.

At Red Performance Multisport we write PreRace Plans for each athlete going onto the battlefield. We want the questions the race environment presents answered before they are asked in the heat of the moment. Even if you are not a RED athlete you can benefit form our PreRace Plan Strategy Sessions. Race week is stressful enough. Be smart and don’t let all you have committed and sacrificed go down the drain because you did not know how you would execute on race day.

For more info and to bring on a Red Performance Multisport Certified Coach email us at

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