Race day planning

race day.jpeg

A good race plan can shave time off your result, reduce race day anxiety and even help avoid the dreaded DNF.  Yet for some unknown reason a lot of athletes don’t take the time to build one!

“Fail to prepare and prepare to fail”.  With that in mind, this article should help you to create an effective race plan. You will learn when to create it, what it should contain and how having one will most definitely help you in your race, whatever your goal.

When to create your race plan

My recommendation is to create your plan as early as possible.  By doing this you can use training as an opportunity to test parts of your plan, make adjustments, refine and optimise.  This way you can be even more prepared both physically and mentally, and have your nutrition completely dialled in by the time race day arrives.

What a good race plan should include:

Your race goal

You may have decided on your race goal a while ago. Take a few moments to analyse your goal - is it still appropriate, or do you need to adjust it in any way? If you still haven’t set a goal, now is high time to do so.  Whatever your goal is, it’s the first and most important thing that goes in your race plan.  Every time you’ll look at your race plan you’ll see your goal in front of you. This will help you stay focused, motivated and fired up about the upcoming race.  To help counter unexpected events etc. create what-if scenarios, this is covered later in the article.


Your race plan should include lists of:

  • All the gear you’ll take to the event if you’re travelling.
  • All the equipment you’ll take with you to the race itself.


If you’re travelling out of town for your race include all the relevant timings for travelling to your event location as well as understanding when you’ll need to leave your accommodation on race day.

Day before the race

If and how you will train.  What your nutrition & hydration looks like and what activities you need to get done, registration etc.  The more specific the better.

Race morning

Plan your race morning in detail just as you did the day before the race. Race morning can be hectic with people wanting to talk and you needing to do things so write up a detailed plan for what YOU need to get done and by when.  For example:

• 6:00–6:30. Wake up and have breakfast: porridge & peanut butter, water

• 6:30–7:30. Go to venue

• 7:30–8:00. Set up transition

• 8:00–8:20. Race briefing - (this may have been the day before or online)

• 8:20–8:40. Put on wetsuit, handover gear etc.

• 8:40–8:55. Warm-up

• 9:00. Race start

Race execution

This includes pacing and other race strategies, nutrition/hydration, the order you are going to do things, when you will take nutrition etc.  Cover all parts of your race, for example:

• Swim

• T1

• Bike

• T2

• Run

Read through your race plan several times during the week leading up to the race and visualise yourself executing it.

What-if scenarios

Anything can happen on the day.  Rain, wind, heat, punctures, poor pace judgement etc.  These are some examples of things that you may or may not control that don’t go according to plan.  Spend some time noting the scenarios that may disrupt your race plan and come up with solutions that will help you stay on track.  An example could be:
Strong headwinds during the ride - Stick to my prescribed power zones.  By doing this I will not compromise my run plan.

Remember a good race plan can shave time off your result, reduce race day anxiety and even help avoid the dreaded DNF, spend time building one and you will see the benefits.

If you want to talk about coaching options feel free to give me a call on 027 209 3514 or flick me an email to paul@elevate-coaching.co.nz.

Happy Racing.

Paul Cadman