Ten Things to Check on Triathlon Race Weekend

Preparing for a single disciplined sport is challenging enough. In triathlon, you’re tasked with the daunting expectation to compete in three sports in one day. Consequently, this ups the ante on how much goes into the preparation for your triathlon race weekend.

When it comes to the big events like IRONMAN, there are a lot of things to check and be prepared for the day before and the morning of triathlon race day. Here are the ten things to check on triathlon race weekend.


1. Weather

The weather on race day is perhaps the most integral check in order to effectively prepare for your race. Temperature and wind conditions will and should heavily dictate your mental expectations. If it’s going to be hot and humid then you should be ready for the kind of suffering that entails. Additionally, weather conditions should also directly affect other variables of your race plan.

For example, your nutrition plan will most likely have been constructed with average conditions in mind. If you find out the conditions on race day are going to be more extreme, then you’ll want to adapt your nutrition plan accordingly. Planning on riding with a disc? Consider switching it out if the wind is going to be extreme. In other words, be ready to make adjustments where needed.

2. Nutrition

As mentioned in the first check, you should already have a nutrition plan ready for your triathlon race. For the most part, you don’t want to deviate too much from this. Therefore, be sure you’ve checked your full calorie count for the day, how you’re going to carry your food and drink on the bike and run, and even what you’re going to eat the night before and morning of. Be meticulous about every detail. Make sure you have all your gels taped up to your bike, intelligently organized, and all your powders mixed correctly. Nutrition can make or break your triathlon so treat it with high regard.

3. Race Venue Schedule

For big events like IRONMAN, the triathlon race weekend can be quite the chaotic circus. There are mandatory meetings, gear and bike check-in times, and specific pre-race swim practice times that you need to know about. Be sure to have studied the race weekend schedule for your particular venue. Some triathlons even have abnormal situations for the morning of the race. If T1 is separated from T2 there might be a bus schedule for morning pick-ups and drop-offs. Make sure you know the schedule so you don’t miss your wave start time.

4. Water Temperature

Being aware of the race venue’s water temperature is probably obvious to any seasoned triathlete. Most of us are crossing our fingers for a wetsuit swim. But, of course, wetsuits are only allowed when the water temperature is below a certain mark. Check with race officials to find out what the temperature will most likely be on race morning so that you know whether or not the wetsuit is happening.

5. The Course

Hopefully you’ve done your homework on the triathlon race course weeks or even months before the big day. However, it doesn’t hurt to scout it out while you’re actually there. If you have the opportunity, drive some of the bike course and visualize how you’re going to handle its challenges. If any announcements were made during the pre-race meeting about notable aspects of the course to be aware of – such as sharp turns or descents – check them out for yourself so you know what to expect.

6. Pre-Race Meal Options

Your triathlon race may have brought you to a strange new city outside of your comfort zone. While your meals the few days before the race aren’t quite as important as your months of nutrition leading up to it, they still play a large factor. You’ll want to scope out the best local, healthy options available. Be sure to get to the restaurant early, though. You don’t want to be eating too late in the night. The last meal before your triathlon should be moderately sized and consumed several hours before you sleep in order to allow for good digestion.

7. Lotions and Potions

There’s nothing worse than getting burned. Some of us have more sensitive skin than others. We burn in the sun and we burn as a result of chafing. A good check to make on triathlon race weekend is the right kind of sunscreen and anti-chafing cream. Your skin can take some serious damage during the race so don’t underestimate the importance of applying these products on race morning.

8. Goggle Anti-Fog

I’ve personally had my swim leg ruined by foggy goggles. Sighting in the triathlon swim is pretty difficult when you can’t see the athlete in front of you much less a distant buoy. Don’t let that happen to you. Always have goggle anti-fog spray on hand and make using it on triathlon race morning part of your normal set-up routine. You may regret it if you don’t.

9. Computer Power

Nowadays most of us have a couple tech devices we race with. Between Garmin, Polar, power meters and much more there are a number of devices that need juice to operate over a long day. Always check that your triathlon race computers, watches, and other meters all have sufficient battery power before the start. Keep them charging overnight to ensure full power on race morning.

10. Tire Pressure

On race morning you’re dealing with enough pressure as it is. But don’t forget this last triathlon check! Your PSI isn’t going to set itself and pumping up the night before is not ideal. You still lose tire pressure overnight so in order to give yourself the best advantage out on the race course always pump your tires the morning of the triathlon.


Between all the gear and the nerves, there’s a lot of craziness happening on triathlon race weekend. You’ll need to prioritize your checklist based on what’s most important to you.


There are more things to check on triathlon race weekend than just these 10 topics. What’s missing? What else do you need to verify on triathlon race weekend?

JARED MILAM is a professional triathlete, TriDot coach, and member of the Tri4Him Pro Team. He has 16 years of competitive running experience and 11 years of competitive triathlon experience with a half Iron PR of 3:59 and a full Iron PR of 8:30. Coaching under the TriDot system since 2011, Jared loves working with aspiring triathletes of all ages and performance levels.

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