By now I have this packing/ prepping thing down to a science (I told you that organizing is one of my favorite activities!), so today I’m sharing how I pack and prepare for race morning. I’ve also made you a gift: An Anxious Triathlete Gear Checklist! Click here to download: triathlon-gear-checklist
It’s so important to take the time to prep and pack all of your gear and race morning needs the night before your competition. It take so much stress out of race morning! I like to gather everything together, lay it out on the floor and check it off my list. Things I’ll need after I set up my transition go at the bottom of my bag (sunscreen, tri glide, etc). Items laid out in transition (shoes, towel, sunglasses, etc) go on top of those. I also have several small zippered compartments in my bag, and this is where I put the things that are really small and important. I know I won’t forget to grab my swim cap, so I put items like my watch and timing chip with it as a reminder to put them on. I don’t recommend saving room by putting small things in your shoes- I once got to a race and couldn’t find my body glide even though I knew I had packed it. I found it 3 hours later when I went to stick my foot into my running shoe in T2!
If possible, put your bag in your car the night before and rack your bike on or in your car as well. This makes it so much easier to just jump in your car and go! If this isn’t an option- perhaps if a friend is picking you up, or if you park on the street and risk a break-in- then put everything next to the door so you don’t forget it.
Next, mix your nutrition and/or hydration products- for me this means 1 NUUN tablet with 2 NUUN Plus tabs in my bike bottle. I let it dissolve and then freeze it- by the time I get to my bike after the swim the bottle has melted enough to drink but is still super cold! Pro tip: Freeze it without the top on if you can- as water expands when it freezes, it can freeze in the cap and prevent you from being able to access the liquid. Or, if you have to put the top on, take 3 minutes in the morning to run the top under hot water. Be sure to leave yourself a note on the fridge or the door to remind yourself to grab your bottle. Leaving it at home does you no good!
Lay out your clothes so they’re easy to jump into: Tri kit, bra, sweat pants, sweat shirt, and flip flops (or sneakers if you prefer. I like flip flops so I can throw them on after the race as well). Be sure to wear clothes over your trikit that will keep you WARM! This keeps your muscles loose and keeps you from expending extra energy being cold.
Finally, prep your breakfast. I usually have a cup of coffee when I wake up in the morning, so I drink that as I get ready to leave. (The warm liquid also helps get the system moving, if you know what I mean, which makes things more pleasant later. For more on this dilemma, see my most popular article to date!). If I don’t finish it, then I toss it in a thermos to go. My pre race breakfast is typically a piece of toast with PB and banana. I will actually take a piece of bread out of the package and put it on a paper plate in the fridge next to a PB packet (already pre measured!) and banana, so in the morning I just throw the bread into the toaster, squeeze on the PB, grab the banana and go. Think through what you want to eat in the morning- make it easy, bland, and digestible. For most people it’s really hard to eat before a race- you wake up so early and you’re nervous, so your appetite seems to have taken a leave of absence. But it’s important to get those calories down. You’ll need them later! I like to take my breakfast with me in the car- I have more time to sleep, and driving seems to take my mind off the race, so it’s easier to munch on the way. Just make sure you’re eating it at least 90 minutes prior to the race start so your fuel has a chance to settle and kick in.
Then be sure to set your alarm and turn in early- rest up for the big day!