Recently, I have been reading more and more about the power of the brain in affecting our performance on race day. So, when I got my Fall issue of USA Triathlon magazine, I was drawn to Allie Burdick’s article about being mentally ready.

To prepare my athletes for race day, I incorporate specific workouts to practice starts and transitions. This is more than just practicing transition during a brick workout, it is a set of multiple reps of just doing starts, or just T1 or just T2. The repetitive nature of the workouts solidifies the movements needed for the most efficient (a.k.a. fastest) technique for this very important (and often time consuming) portions of a triathlon.

So, I was very interested in Allie’s article that discussed writing down your “what if’s”, those things that might happen in a race, and writing down the actions to be taken when this happens. While the thought process when combined with thinking about the solutions to the “What if” problems and also writing down the action to be taken in response to these events is good, actually practicing them is even better.

After you have your “What if” list of goggle strap snapping, flat tire, only having 1 sock not 2 in your gear bag and have written down what you would do, practice what you would do. Then, incorporate into one or more of your workouts, actually practicing what you would do should one of those unexpected events occur during your race. The expectation is that you have properly checked all your gear to be sure it is ready for race day, so you need not spend a lot of time in practice working on the “what if’s but some time in practice is better than none should the “what if” happen on race day.

Many of us watched in the recent Olympics as Michael Phelps swim cap ripped when he was preparing for his leg of a relay. A teammate handing Michael his swim cap and Michael went on to swim and the team probably won gold. Probably not an issue for you as hopefully the cap is put on before entering the water and you could get a replacement from one of the race volunteers, but should any other “what ifs” happen during your event, do you know what your action would be in response to that and have you practices that. You should.


For more on how to determine your “What If’s” or to prepare for your next Triathlon from Sprint Distance to Ironman, contact me at