On the weekend we had a beautiful country escape, off the beaten track to the hidden delights of the Traralgon caravan park. John wasn’t just spoiling me in this country getaway, but we were participating in the Inaugural Hazelwood 100. Racing “away from home”, be it 100km’s down the freeway or the other side of the world, has its challenges. And from previous experience not preparing well or having the ideal lead in to an intra or inter-state race can have its implications (*flashback* smashed face and hospital visit the day before John completed the Geelong 70.3. To no surprise he didn’t perform his best).
From the countless races we have now completed there is a number of things I have learnt. The main focus is being prepared with food; triathletes eat a lot and if food isn’t well planned there’s every chance you’ll be seeing a state of Hangry and risk performing well.
Here is my list on how to prepare for a race away from home.
- Accept it will not all go to plan.
Like anything in racing and just generally in life, accept ahead of time that things won’t go to plan. So when they don’t you don’t get frazzled and let small things stress you more than they should.
With the Geelong race last year, having a bike accident the day before was the last thing we imagined would have happened. The events heavily shook John who had to look after me in a very ugly state (literally). Naturally, he didn’t race his best, however the repercussions could have been minimized if we were as organized as we were on the weekend just been. John didn’t eat well the night before or morning of the race because we weren’t organized. This has been a huge lesson learnt.
Even small things don’t go to plan, like last Friday we had intended to leave Melbourne at 3.30pm but in the end left at 5pm due to unexpected work hold ups and we then got stuck in heavy traffic. Thankfully because we were so organized this time it hardly impacted us. By accepting things don’t go to plan, we didn’t stress over the unexpected change in arrival time.
- Pack your race bag at home
I am sure most of us are the same and pack our race bag the day before a local race. When racing away from home it should be exactly the same; you just have to do it a day or two earlier than usual. The key is to pack a separate race bag from the bag you are taking away with you with your clothes and toiletries etc. This means you have packed your bag in a clear and calm state so everything will be there, you know you won’t have left anything at home, and by having it in a separate bag you don’t need to open it whilst away so there is no risk of things falling out or being forgotten race morning. Plus if you end up being rushed it is ready to go and you can be confident it has everything you need.
- Shop before you leave
This is the biggest lesson learnt. When travelling intrastate, do a full shop a couple of days prior and pack everything into a large esky. Plan every meal; breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, recovery food – anything you can think of. And everything that is required with those meals, such as butter for your sandwiches or toast, which is something basic which is too easy to forget. Of course this is much easier when travelling by car. If you’re travelling interstate or overseas the same concept applies. Write a complete shopping list before going away. Research where the local shop is so you aren’t flustered trying to find one once you are there. Do a big shop so you don’t have to keep going each day to get more. And make sure you factor in the time prior to the event, don’t arrive the night before a race with no food plans in a foreign town, it’s a recipe for domestic fighting (yes. Been there, done that thanks Tasmania National Championships).
- Book an apartment
With all the gear you need for a triathlon alone you need an apartment for the extra space (over a hotel room), but more importantly you need a kitchen. A kitchen ensures you can cook properly, therefore eat properly. It just makes sense, and for the small extra you pay you will save by eating in.
- Pre-prepare meals
Pre preparing food is the best way to save time and stress. As mentioned we arrived in Traralgon about 2 hours later than planned, but it wasn’t stressful because I had already roasted potatoes for dinner, so it took about 15minutes to prepare dinner. Had I not been organized, dinner would have been very late and I would have been grumpy and stressed!
I had also bought a store pre-made lasagna as a backup meal, which was lucky as it was required. You can never over prepare.
If you can’t prepare a meal or know you won’t be able to cook the night before, plan and book a restaurant in advance. Do not try and go out at dinner time the night before a race trying to find somewhere to eat, generally everywhere will be booked out or there will be long wait times on food, which leads to pre race stress (another lesson learnt the hard way).
- Overestimate your food quantity
It’s better to have more food than to run out and have to go to the shops. Ending up having to go to the shops, even if only for a few items, almost defeats being super organized. The goal is to have everything with you (if driving) or everything bought in the one shop, to save time and stress of having to go back out to the shops. List out every meal in detail to work out quantities, it is easy to under estimate food, such as buying bread for toast and then needing it for sandwiches. For the little bit of extra money you might spend, over quantify your food requirements.
Travelling for races is such a great way to see new places and make excuses to go on holidays. It’s all too easy to let the stress of the race take away from that experience, or make it a very expensive trip, so the more you can preplan and prepare the more relaxed you will be leading in to the race.