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The Ultimate Triathlon Race Day Checklist


  • What is a triathlon race day checklist?
  • Things to prepare during race day
  • Food to eat on race day
  • Things to do during race day
  • Is a checklist actually helpful?

The Ultimate Triathlon Race Day Checklist

The actual race day can trigger stress, anxiety, and other negative thoughts. When they become overwhelming, you may self-sabotage, forget a lot of essential things, and ruin your performance. While these negative thoughts are inevitable sometimes, there are ways to manage them. One way to do this is to come prepared with a triathlon race day checklist.

In this guide, we’ll help you prepare for every triathlon race with the ultimate and no-fail triathlon race day checklist that you can use over and over again.

What Is A Triathlon Race Day Checklist?

A triathlon race day checklist contains a standardized list of items and steps to help you be more organized and ensure that you do not forget anything important on race day. Furthermore, a checklist can also improve your self-motivation and time management skills before and during race day.

Things to Prepare During Race Day

Start with all the essential and non-essential things you need during race day. You can continue with your training and enjoy your downtime if you already have all the things you need for race day. Here is a sample list of things you should bring.

For Swimming

  • Tri-suit
  • Wetsuit if allowed
  • Swimming cap
  • Goggles
  • Chamois Cream
  • Flip Flops
  • Earplugs for swimming
  • Lightweight towels

For Cycling

  • Tri suit
  • Bicycle
  • Spare tire
  • Biking shoes
  • Multiple pairs of socks
  • Helmet
  • Sunglasses
  • Fitness watch
  • Water bottles
  • Bike multi-tool
  • Bike pump

For Running

  • Running shoes
  • Socks
  • Race belts or numbers
  • Running hat or visor
  • Hat

For Nutrition

For Transitions

This is just a sample list of miscellaneous and non-essential items for a triathlon race. The list would depend on your daily routine, preferences, physical condition, and the demands of the race. You can either remove or add items to the list. You might even bring more items for huge, demanding triathlon races like the Ironman 70.3

Food to Eat On Race Day

You can only bring lightweight items on your race day since you also need to carry your gear and equipment. So, what should be in your nutrition pack?

Your nutrition pack should efficiently refuel your energy and satisfy your hunger throughout the race. Consider the conditions of the race as you pack your food and beverages, such as the duration and obstacles. Here are the best examples of snacks and drinks to prepare:


Never forget your massive bottle of water and your favorite sports drinks. Sports drinks are an excellent hydration liquid as it contains electrolytes that can satisfy your overall fluid needs. You can buy your favorite sports drinks or make a homemade sports drink before race day.

To know what type and how much fluid you should bring, practice your hydration strategy before race day. Aside from your personal drinks, you can rely on aid stations throughout the race to cover your hydration needs. Just remember to always drink when you feel thirsty, especially when the day is hot.


Toss in healthy snacks that can fuel your energy and boost your mood. The typical race-day nutrition pack includes oatmeal, energy bars, eggs, bananas and other regular-sized fruits, and yogurt.

The list of snacks, of course, is up to you. But when picking the brands and varieties of snacks and fluids for your race-day nutrition pack, stick to your usual pre-race snacks. Don’t throw in anything new to reduce your chances of having an uncomfortable stomach or a bizarre feeling.

Things to Do During Race Day

The day has come when you have to put your training to the test and conquer real triathlon obstacles. So, you need to make sure that you’re 100% prepared and ready. Bring the essential and non-essential items on the list, and follow these necessary steps before the race begins:

Eat 3 to 4 Hours Before the Race

Eat your first meal of the day 3 to 4 hours before the race, and make sure that your meal contains your usual breakfast varieties during training. Don’t eat anything new before and during the race. Don’t try a new flavor of your favorite energy drink or energy bar. And don’t even eat or drink something you’ve tried in training at a different time than usual during the actual race. Your body should be familiar with what you’re consuming, so you can function as normal. Fine-tune your stomach before the race with everything familiar.

Wear Your Familiar Race Outfit

Don’t wear or add anything new to your race-day outfit. You need to feel as comfortable as possible, so always go with the familiar. Wear your usual running shoes, wetsuit, and even socks on race day—the ones you’ve been using during training. Don’t put on anything brand new, especially a brand new pair of running shoes that you haven’t tried yet.

While preparing your outfit, also consider the weather conditions in the area. Check the weather the day before and on the morning of the race. Afterward, make changes to your overall race outfit by adding or removing things that can accompany you in hot and cold temperatures. If possible, wear adjustable clothing and accessories in case there are weather changes during the race.

The best thing to do is practice wearing your clothes and gear before the race and do a test. Go for a long run or find the perfect cycling route where you can practice with your every clothing on—from running shoes to your athletic underwear.

Check All Your Gear and Equipment

Do a once-over of your gear and equipment, especially your bike, one day and hours before the event. Do it twice. In this way, you’ll be able to patch issues, if there are any, and ensure that all of them are in good working order.

For your bike, ensure that the moving components, such as wheels, chains, and chainrings are free of any issues and are moving freely. Then, check your saddles and bars to see if their screws are all in place and not about to loosen up or fall off. Most triathletes do a final tire pump-up on the morning of the race.

Arrive at the Venue Early

Arrive at the venue at least an hour before the actual race. You need plenty of time to set up and analyze your surroundings. Arriving and preparing early can reduce unnecessary stress and fix any issues you’ve just noticed in the venue.

If you need to pick up and organize registration packets and attend orientation, consider arriving one and a half hours early. With plenty of time at your disposal, you can scout the course and take notes of landmarks. Some triathlon races assign transition areas to participants. But in case you don’t have one, reserve or eye your spot as soon as you can. Mark your territory if possible, and aim for the area nearest the exit sign.

Complete a Quick Warm-Up

Do a 15-20 minute run at the venue, about 45 minutes before starting time. If you don’t have the time for a quick warm-up, you can skip it and do some dynamic stretches instead. The goal is to reduce muscle stiffness in your body, increase blood and oxygen flow, and boost your overall mood. While there aren’t many studies and experiments that explain how warm-ups can improve your overall endurance, one study published in the National Library of Medicine revealed that warm-ups have positive effects on performance improvement.

“[The] analysis has shown that performance improvements can be demonstrated after completion of adequate warm-up activities, and there is little evidence to suggest that warming-up is detrimental to sports participants,” said the study.

Make a Mental Note of Your Transitions

You’ll feel the real pressure and stress during the competition. It can sometimes be worse than what you’ve felt before the race begins. However, don’t let your negative emotions get in the way of your race plan and organizational race-day structure.

Making transitions is one of the most chaotic parts of a triathlon race, so focus on this aspect as you survey the area and memorize your plan. Make a mental note of all your transitions and the overall race-day plan that you’ve assembled during training before the race begins. It would be better if you can write them down on paper or your mobile’s notepad. Writing down things can help you remember them better.

Continue Hydration As Needed

Stop drinking two hours before the race, then start your hydration strategy on the actual race. The best hydration strategy is to continue sipping on your liquids as needed—whenever you feel thirsty. But remember to only drink the right amount of fluids. You should avoid both dehydration and overdrinking. The latter is a problem that not many athletes and coaches consider.

“Runners still need to be educated about the risks of overdrinking as they continue to demonstrate a lack of knowledge and understanding,” says a study published in the Journal of Athletic Training. Some signs of overdrinking include headaches, fatigue, cramping, muscle weakness, nausea, and vomiting.

While hydrating, schedule and prioritize your urination time. Pee as needed, too, to throw away excess liquid from your body and make it as comfortable as possible throughout the race.

Say Your Mantras

Every athlete has his or her own mantra during race day—a positive self-talk accompanied by the Law of Attraction. There’s no guarantee that saying your own mantras can lead you to success or help you bag the first-place medal, but it will definitely boost your spirit and determination. They may be just words. But remember that words are powerful, especially if they came from you. A study published in the US National Library of Medicine revealed that meditation, including mantra meditation, “appears to provide an accessible, self-care resource that has potential value for mental health, behavioral self-regulation, and integrative medical care.”

So, come race day and before you step on the starting line, say a few words to yourself—anything that will make you feel better. While you’re at it, remember the times that you trained hard, the day you overcome your weaknesses and failures, and the reason why you joined this particular triathlon race in the first place.

Is A Checklist Actually Helpful?

Some may think that checklists are mere lists that you can follow, but many studies show that they can benefit individuals in more ways than one. Aside from actually accomplishing important tasks, it can touch other mental, physical, and emotional aspects of your planning session.

In a study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, a scientific journal by the American Psychological Association, plan making, like creating a checklist, can eliminate the cognitive effects of unfulfilled goals, such as stress and anxiety.

“By planning for their goals, people can better manage their multiple pursuits. It has been well documented that specific plans increase success, doing so in part by making goal pursuit more automatic,” the study concluded.

So, yes, checklists are effective in achieving goals and increasing the likelihood of success in triathlon or any other activity. However, it will only be effective if you’ll constantly and continually use it.


Make this ultimate triathlon race day checklist part of your race routine to increase your likelihood of finishing a race and achieving your goals. But while we recommend following every step and tip on this checklist, don’t stress yourself over small things you’ve missed on race day when there are solutions and alternatives available on the table. Stress can ruin your concentration and performance. Remember that the goal is to win and enjoy, not to become an overly organized athlete.

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