Posted On:
Tuesday, August 8, 2017
Updated On:
Tuesday, July 18, 2023

Coach Tip Tuesday: Learn Your Race

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Hey now!!  It’s Coach Tip Tuesday!!

This week we’re talking about learning your race.  By now many of you know that I talk about this a lot: preparation for our goal events is wayyyy more than just completing workouts.  This week’s tip expands on that idea.

Chances are that you’ve invested quite a bit of money into your goal event.  It obviously starts with the registration fee, but may grow to also include gear, transportation, lodging, and other additional costs.  You’ve also invested time into preparing for your event, so your collective fiscal and time investment does grow to be quite large.  Many athletes who I’ve worked for don’t necessarily see the totality of this right away due to these little investments happening over time; they don’t necessarily happen all at once, which makes it easy for them to lose track of just how large their total investment into their goal is.  But over time, it can become quite large.

Every race is different, and as such, no two races should be treated the same.  One of the best things that an athlete can do is to take the investment in their race just a bit further by setting aside some time to study up on the goal event.  It’s 2017 now, and the internet is overflowing with information about EVERYTHING - including about races.  This includes course maps, course elevation profiles, course descriptions, FAQs that include details regarding aid stations, race day protocol and schedules, and more.  Additionally, athletes have gotten into the habit of blogging or publishing race reports on events; these can be a great resource for athletes looking for a “boots on the ground” perspective of the event.   If you have a coach, talk to your coach about the race that you’re preparing for.  A good coach will research an athlete’s goal event and know at least the big picture details about the race so that they can develop the best plan possible to prepare the athlete who they are working for to that specific event.

Things like what time the race starts, how many aid stations will be available on course, what products will be available at the aid stations, what the course profile is, how many loops a course is, what the typical weather is like for a race, and what the terrain is like are all things that should be known variables prior to hitting the start line.

You deserve to get the most of our your investment into your race day.  If you didn’t do it before you registered, do a little bit of homework in the early stages of training for your race so you can train like you’re going to race.  This includes testing out the hydration/nutrition options available on course to ensure that they work for you, training on terrain that is similar to your race, and practicing skills that will be needed for your particular event (i.e. a course with a lot of turns will require turning practice; a course with a lot of climbing will require a fine-tuning of climbing skills).  I don’t think it’s entirely necessary to train on the course before race day (for races that are far away, this is generally impossible), but if that is possible, that’s a huge advantage.  For races that are out-of-town and far away, driving the course the day before can really help mentally prepare an athlete for the race ahead.

My number one rule for athletes is to try to avoid uncertainty on race day.  Don’t leave details that can be known unknown to yourself.  Take just a little bit of time to research your race, and you’ll see that time investment go a long way.

As always, please contact me with any questions.  And if you’re curious about coaching or how I can help you feel as prepared as possible for YOUR race, please comment, e-mail, or private message me. :)


Coach Laura Henry

Laura Henry is a Syracuse, NY-based coach who is a USA Triathlon Level II Long Course and Level II Paratriathlon Certified Coach, USA Cycling Level 2 Certified Coach, VFS Certified Bike Fitter, and has successfully completed NASM's Certified Personal Trainer course. Coach Laura is passionate about helping athletes of all ability levels reach their goals and has coached many athletes to success.

She can be reached at

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