This is what I do and if you’re at a loss, a first timer or you need to step up your game I think It’s a pretty good place to start. Attached to this post is a pretty free printable checklist with some spots for you to add your own thing. You’ll see that this will work well for a running race but I’ve also included triathlon stuff too. A checklist and a plan is a good idea for race day no matter who you are. If you’re the type A super organized type, well you already love lists don’t you. You might not even need this one but I know you. You’ll be printing a back up copy of this and others before you make your own right? If you’re a bit flightier and could use a gentle nudge to get it all together well maybe you should print three copies. If you’re just a regular human a list can really help well before the crack of dawn on race day! So here you go, I think it’s pretty comprehensive but feel free to cross out the stuff that doesn’t apply to you or add your own extras. I encourage that!
Along with the simple list you can print in this post I’ll be explaining some of the why as to why it’s on here and why it appears when it does. Truthfully there are a lot of lists sort of like this out there but after doing quite a few races I finally get why they appear as late or as early as they do. If you’re like me you want your lists and especially your training plans to not only tell you what to do but why you’re doing it so that’s what I’m giving to you here! With fall racing season just around the corner it’s the perfect time.
A month out
- Register or login and confirm your registration
- Test race day outfit
A month before the race you really should have registered already, if you haven’t it’s past time. If you registered forever ago double check online you’re still in the race just in case. A month out for a bigger race you’re at the peak of your training and super busy at this point so take it easy on yourself at the bingeing of the month before. For bigger races the two weeks before you’ll be tapering off and you can put lots of little stuff off until then. It might seem too early to think about final tests for your race day outfit, especially if you live somewhere with seasons, but it’s totally not! You’re just about to do your longest run, or your last brick workout and that’s the best possible test for your race day outfit. Even if you have to add or subtract an element wear your race day outfit for one on the big workouts in these last long hard workouts so you’ll be confident it will go the distance on race day. Don’t worry though there’s still a few opportunities left to test any last minute changes.
Two weeks out
- Buy and test any last minute gear swaps and test them
- Think about a taper distraction project or activities
This could be taper time which can be difficult. Training as hard as you have been is a great stress reliever plus you might have been too busy until now to freak out about race day. Now you have lots of free time to do just that. Take heart at least that this is normal. If you are adding any new gear between peak week and race day test workouts are your chance to test it out or break it in. You might want to take up a project to fill you mind and your time right now as a distraction. Or make lots of fun plans.
A week out
- Launder race day outfit
- Shop for pre-race food, race day fuel and post race snacks
- Print race day directions
- Know where and when to check in and pick up kit
- Study race map if necessary
- Make a list of what you NEED to take with you
- Make race day playlist
- Do any pace calculations you need to at the beginning of this week and try to forget it until race day
The stuff we can do before race weekend we should. Lots of people wind themselves up (raises hand) or get too busy in the day or two before since they’re taking a day off in the day or two before a race. (raises other hand.) So front end load this week as much as possible. Wash your clothes for race day early on so you don’t miss sleep later in the week waiting to switch it over. It really helps athletes to visualize their mot successful race before an event in getting the best results. Many of these items work well in this regard as well. As for those per mile and finish time calculations and obsessing over them, once you figure it out and set your final goals try as much as possible to put them out of your mind.
Two days out
- Prioritize sleep
- Make sure your hydration is on point
- Start isolating race day gear in one place
- Avoid foods that mess with your stomach
This might differ a bit from other race day checklists in fact some might not have a two days out category at all. I can get nervous for a race the day before. If it’s the first time you’ve done something that’s totally normal. If it’s not the first time that’s totally normal too! So I like to take a few things traditionally done the day before and stretch them out earlier in the week. One thing is I’m not the best sleeper in the world. So two sleeps before race day eve I start prioritizing sleep. That way if I can’t sleep the night before it’s not so stressful and funny enough that leads me to getting a great night’s sleep the day before the race. If you know certain foods mess with you stomach start avoiding them now and hydrating properly for two days is much better than one. Plus it helps regulate your digestive system for the big day. Remember most of us don’t drink enough water and these two days you should be aiming for a bit too much.
- Eat lots of carbs today
- Do something fun or at least distracting
- Run your splits
- Pick up kit if possible
This doesn’t really need a lot of explanation does it. If you want to know a lot more, like all there is to know about carb loading check out this post.
- Load coffee maker, find travel mug
- Remind cheer squad how early they have to get up
- Check final weather forecast
- More carb loading
- Pack or prep breakfast
- Set 4 alarm clocks
- Pack race bag
- Rack bike on car
- Put post race clothes, snacks and water in car or bag
- Lay out race day outfit right down to the undies
- Take race ready instagram picture
You know when stuff goes wrong at 4:30 am when you have to be out the door in less than 30 minutes. You know what doesn’t open until 10 am, sporting good stores. That is a terrible combination for forgotten items on race day. As much as possible get prepared and make your morning idiot proof because that early that might be exactly what you’re dealing with! For a running race I usually just load the bag but for a bigger race like a triathlon I’ll try to load up the car too. There’s just so much more to forget. I’ll rack the bike on the car, load my wet gear in the car and my stuff for the transition area. You could totally do that for running races to but my goal for triathlons is usually just to get myself in the right outfit and fed into the car. I usually lay out all the stuff and take a kick ass instagram picture before loading it into the bag and then lay out the morning stuff in the order I need it in the hallway. Like undies first than clothes then deodorant, sneakers next and finally a warm up sweater. I’ll even cut and lay out my KT tape!
- Chug as much water as possible upon waking
- Drink coffee fast if doing so
- Start eating ASAP
- An hour before race time cut off fluids
- Pee and poo as much as possible as soon as possible
A lot of this is all about the morning poo really. We should all chug a big glass of water everyday while we wait for the coffee maker but almost no one does it including me. Morning runs done on coffee only around here. Getting all that done water, coffee and food as early and as soon as you can after waking gives you the best chance of getting your business done before your leave the house. But it’s best to have a plan just in case that doesn’t happen like a coffee shop along the way. I also usually wear a bit of makeup depending on the race and that makes my morning feel a bit more like a normal morning.
So that’s it, click on the link below the graphic above to download a PDF of pretty checklist version you can print off to keep you on track for race day. What other things are must do’s for you in getting ready for your race?