Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Checklist

With my first race of the season fast approaching, today I started looking through the athlete guide and planning some logistics for the race. This isn't rocket science, but I thought the planning process might be somewhat insightful. Hopefully it will help some of you to be a little more cool, calm, and collected in the days leading up to your races. A couple years ago I realized that I was getting unnecessarily stressed before races thinking through what I needed to bring, logistics for the race, nutrition, etc. I decided to create a file entitled “checklist” that helps the pre-race process go much more smoothly and worry free. I create a new excel tab for each race, so I can quickly customize things depending on the race distance, etc.

First on the page is a list of stuff to bring – it sounds simple, but it’s nice to have it written out so you don’t forget something important. Whether it’s a sprint or Ironman, my standard list is pretty much the same. Inevitably I add random stuff here and there, and you can obviously customize your own list as well.

In addition to what to bring, I have several other little sections on the same page:

Timeline: a couple days before the race, (sooner for bigger races with cool Athlete Guides) I’ll check out the race website and make sure I’m clear on the schedule… when to check-in, when transition is open, race start, etc. In my timeline section I then make a few notes, such as:

4:45 rise and shine, sweetheart
5:10 hit the road
6:00 bodymarked, set up transition
6:30 ~10 min run warm up then get in water asap
7:00 Start of Olympic waves

Nutrition Plan: the checklist file really comes in handy for nutrition, because I often find that I forget what I’ve done in past races. For example, rather than trying to reinvent the wheel for my upcoming race, I can look back at what I did in my last 70.3. Obviously you can tweak it, but if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. (here's a sample from a half last year)

Breakfast – banana, bagel w/peanut butter, gel shortly before race w/little water

Speedfil (~40 oz) with 4 scoops hammer perpetuem, drink every 15 min 
repeat after me.. post-race nutrition, not in-race nutrition
2 clif blok pieces (every hour, on the 30)
chase clif bloks with ~8 oz diluted nuun
~8 oz diluted nuun (on the 60)
Powergel halfway through bike if feeling hungry

Run (per hour)
Powergel (on the 30 and 60) followed with water from aid station
Little Coke if needed from aid stations

Post-race (1-time event, not per hour!)  Five Guys burger, fries, and potentially ice cream from another establishment

(reminder to self: don’t get mixed up and eat this during race! Will mess you up!!)

You see?? If I didn’t have this planned out, I may have literally stuffed a burger in my jersey pocket while in the pre-race “deer in the headlights” stage in transition. Now, problem solved!

Getting There: this is in case I need to jot down simple directions and drive time so I’m not messing with my phone in the car

Goals/Motivation: writing down your goal(s) and/or a “mantra” or something else that you’re using for fuel helps you actually achieve it. At times I also write some race strategy stuff here.

Weather: Just helps you prepare. Is it gonna be blazing hot, raining, etc.

I print out the page, check off my list as I’m packing up, and bring it with me the morning of to remind myself of my nutrition plan, goals, etc. It’s a great way to avoid that panicked “am I forgetting something?” feeling and get you on your way to having a stellar race!

Ps. There’s nothing hard about recreating your own checklist file, but if anyone wants me to send you mine as an example, just contact/email and I’ll send it over.

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