Developing a Race Plan for Triathletes

race plan triathlon

What should my race plan include

A well constructed race plan should include your race goal, travel, equipment, agenda for the day before the race, your race morning schedule, race execution, and race contingency plan for the ‘what-if’ scenarios. The plan really should include everything that’s going on around your race. Be mindful that a race plan is not the same as a race strategy.

Although this may seem like a lot to cover, once you know how to formulate your plan it won’t take long to create. A solid and thoughtful race plan can take minutes off your next race. Unfortunately, most triathletes skip this crucial step. Spending time to sit down and map out your race plan will keep you on track during training and on race day.

Your race goal is the first and most important element to go into your race plan. Every time you look at your race plan you’ll see your goal in front of you. This will help you stay focused, motivated and consistent with training. You can have multiple goals, however, one specific process driven goal is best. A process driven goal is different to a result driven. The result will come if you execute the process. Your process goal must be something you can control.

Travel is apart of racing albeit close to home or afar, you’ll need to travel to your event. Include your travel itinerary in your race plan to avoid last minute stress. This is more so important if racing interstate or overseas.

Equipment should be included in your race plan. Everything you intend to use and extra equipment if something breaks or if the weather changes unexpectedly.

Day before the race involves writing down what you’ll eat, how you’ll train and when you’ll rest. This is particularly important for endurance racing.

Your race morning involves planning a detailed time line. What time you will set your alarm, eat breakfast, arrive at the race venue, rack your bike, check out transition zones, attend the race briefing, complete a dry land warm up, put on your wet suit, head down to the start, complete a warm up in the water, have a gel and line up ready to race.

Race execution involves writing down how you want to accomplish your race goal. Race execution includes the processes you’ll rely on, your pacing, your power output, your course considerations, your race tactics, nutrition and your mindset on race day. Below is an example of a process driven race execution.


  • start strong, find my rhythm and build pace
  • swim powerful, not fast
  • be smooth and slipstream
  • draft on the hips of someone of similar pace
  • crocodile sight and maintain race lines


  • remove wetsuit as exiting water
  • put helmet, sunnies, socks and cycling shoes on
  • grab a gel and run with bike as you exit


  • first 30 minutes get settled
  • break bike into 30 min blocks
  • maintain power of 160 watts
  • maintain HR 140 – 145 BPM
  • nutrition every 30 mins
  • stay low on aero bars where possible
  • use the downhills to gain momentum for the rolling hills during the bike
  • up and out of the saddle approaching the top of any crests and power over the top


  • rack bike, remove helmet and shoes
  • runners on, grab visor, belt, gel and caffeine tablet


  • take first couple of kms to get settled
  • break run into 5km blocks
  • stay relaxed, compact and complete a form check when under fatigue

Mantras “Get comfortable with the uncomfortable” “My mind will quit before my body does” “You’re better than what you think you are”  “The person who never gets up is hard to beat.”

Race contingency plans include what to do if something doesn’t go to plan? What will I do if I get a flat? What will I do if I panic in the swim? What is my plan if I loose my nutrition or if my Garmin malfunctions? Think about these scenarios pre race. Empowerment comes when you feel in control.

When should I create my race plan

Create an outline of your race plan at least 6 weeks before your event. Implement your race plan during training. Then fine tune your plan 2 weeks out from race day. Optimise it and make adjustments as necessary.


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