It’s a lesson most of us probably learned the hard way, but it’s so important I feel compelled to remind you: Don’t try anything new on race day!
Before a competition, as typical athletes, you’d be training for months in preparation for the big day. You follow your workout schedule and stick to a specific diet, which forces your body to get used to a certain routine and become comfortable with it. Then why would you attempt anything new on race day?
I have committed this mistake myself a few times. I bet you did at some point too! During marathons or triathlons, I would start the race faster than I could tolerate. The main reason is because there are other athletes around us running or swimming faster than us, and since we’d be feeling okay at the beginning of the race, we’d follow their pace just to keep up. Then we reach the first and second mile markers and notice that we’ve been going faster than we’re used to. That’s when we realize that we’re doomed! While we may still feel okay at this point, we know that we won’t be able to maintain our pace, and that we’ll pay for it at the end of the race, when we need our energy the most.
Nutrition is also a key element here. Just because you’re handed food and beverages during the race, it doesn’t mean that you should be consuming them, and unless you’ve trained with that specific drink, gel or bar, do not risk it! Your body may not be used to their composition or strength, which can affect you negatively and may even make you sick. So you’d better carry your own sports nutrition products and only accept water if it’s provided on the course.
3rd mistake: Clothing! Swimsuit, wetsuit, running shorts, cycling tights, even socks and goggles… Make sure you’ve tried them on and trained in them before, and do not attempt to use them on race day for the first time. If they don’t fit, you’ll most likely have a really hard time during the competition, and your performance might suffer as a result.by