This post is about how to make a successful game plan for race day.  You’ve done the physical training.  It is now time to do the book work.


I am less than 3 weeks out from my race.  Although I did not have a completely successful training time for this race, I think I am in the fitness level for my goals.  With the time remaining, there isn’t much I can do that will actually push my performance over the top.  This will be my last full training week and then I will begin my taper.  I hate tapering.  It makes me feel like I am getting an inadequate workout and I want to continue to push up to the day of the race.

I have a fairly solid base at this point.  I am also not doing anything that is over-the-top.  This puts me in a place where I don’t have to do a very extreme taper.  This makes me happy.

My original goal was the following:

0:30 swim

1:21 bike ride (not a realistic goal with an additional 7 miles on the course)

0:50 run

As I am putting together all of the elements, I am trying for the following times:

0:26 swim

1:31 bike ride

0:48 run

What is my game plan to make that happen?

  • Pre-race
    • I will not wear my watch for the swim or the ride.
      • I am not swimming laps, so the watch is not very useful in the swim.
      • It makes wet suit removal more difficult.  My wet suit is too small as it is.  There is no way that I can get my watch through the sleeve.
      • I have a bike computer
      • It is difficult to put a watch on while riding.  It takes a lot of focus.
  •  Swimming
    • I can do about 27 minutes with no other swimmers
    • I really don’t like the fighting at the start of the race
    • Historically I have started near the outside in the middle.  I usually swim up behind somebody in their wash.  When I reach them, I work my way around them in a surge and continue until I find the next set of feet.
    • When I start swimming, I know my pace is about 1:27/100 when I am fresh.  I think I am going to start near the front and hope that I can get in with a pack.  Instead of being intimidated by the tall lanky dudes at the front…I might as well use them to my advantage.
  • Cycling
    • Know your route.  Know your ride style
    • The Elevation profile is important.  Early on, I was riding a route that I thought was similar to the race course.  As it turns out, the route I was on had about 4.5x as much elevation gain as the race course.  You might say to yourself, “Well then you got better training”…but that isn’t the case.  Over-training in that way prevents me from planning strategic moves on the course.  You can’t plan for endurance, heart rate management, or muscle fatigue control when you are slamming yourself against the wall.  I found a 2.5 mile stretch of road that allows me to go back and forth several times to simulate my course management.
    • Surge and Recover:  While on my training, I practiced surging.  This is pushing hard for a period of time and then recovering afterwards.  Surge/Recover practice helps with passing and dropping other riders and topping out hill climbs.  If you know you need to push for 30 seconds to pass somebody, it is really valuable to know how your body will respond during that surge.  I know that I can complete this course with at least 10 Surge/Recoveries.  How do I know?  Because I practiced.  I may be able to do a few more…but I don’t know what will happen.  I know how much time it takes my heart rate to recover and my muscles to get back into the cadence groove.
  • Running
    • Know your route.  Know the recovery stations.
    • In one race, I left transition with another person.  At every aid station, they walked and got nutrition.  I didn’t train with that.  So I passed him at the aid station.  He then passed me in between aid stations.  I would again pass him at another aid station.  About 5 miles into the race, he passed me for the last time and then I never saw him again.  He had a smarter game plan with aid and nutrition.
    • The route map shows me 4 Aid Stations, which breaks the run up into 5 sections.
    • I have been doing quite a bit of interval training with the Max King Performance Group.  I highly respect the few seconds that you have for recovery between intervals.  I am going to put this into my game plan.
      • Section 1 (.5 miles):  A relaxed slow pace.  I do this because I never know how my legs are going to respond after a ride.  I am very intentionally making this a relaxed pace.  This way when my brain is telling me to speed up,  I can tell it “Relax…the time will come.”.  This .5 miles will buy me some time to get into run mode.
      • Section 2 (2 miles):  70% running pace.  I want to establish a good solid baseline for a negative split.  This pace is still below my goal pace, but it allows me to run quite some time.  If I run the entire race at this speed, I will still come in under my original goal time.  it won’t get me to my revised goal time…but it is a safe speed.
      • Section 3 (1.2 miles): 90% run pace.  In my training runs, I have learned that I can push my body for 15 minutes.  This pace is considerably under my goal pace, and will zero-out any losses caused from Section 1.  This is also where I will be catching up to the cyclists that cruised past me.  This running pace will prevent anybody from “latching on” and sticking with me.
      • Section 4 (1.5 miles):  70% running pace.  This puts me back at the baseline.  My body will start feeling quite uncomfortable at this stage as my heart rate is slowing down.  This is where I will begin sweating and heavy breathing.  It is an “Active Recovery” from my last big push.  My goal is about getting my heart rate back into zone, controlling my breathing, and maintaining my pace.  I am now in the second half of the run and forcing a negative split.
      • Section 5 (1.2 miles):  90-100%.  Again, I have trained with 15 minutes of hard pushing.  I will do the first .75 miles at 90%.  At that point, I will be pushing myself for the last few minutes until I cross the finish line.  At this point, the race is not about where I am in relationship with other people.  It is about cutting off some time from my total race section.  It is easy to say “What if you burn out before hand”, and the answer to that is that I have trained in this mode.  I know how my body responds, and I know how difficult it is.  It is easy for beginning racers to burn out by doing this because they haven’t established any boundaries for it.  I know that I will be in this zone for .75 miles.  No more.  No less.  This time is dedicated specifically for this burn.  I have clear boundaries and will not go outside the boundaries to try to weasel performance out of my body that does not exist.

This is the first race where I have done more than a “course drive through”.  I really want to test my body and the best way to do that is by doing it in a way that is testable and 100% possible.

This is everything I can do to complete my goal.  I have done all of the work that will put me into the window.  I have done the book-work for what to expect on the course and when to push/when not to.  My performance on race day will vary by the conditions but I feel like I have a good idea of how the conditions will affect me.  My shot at the podium will only depend on those conditions and whoever else in my age-group shows up to race.