Tapering Tips for the Chicago Triathlon


Mary Bradbury is a coach at Together We Tri. as well as a member of the U.S. Team racing in the  World Championships in Australia next month.  She has put together this taper check list as we approach the big day!

Yes, everyone needs to taper. Training balls out until the day before the race is not good for you.  So read up, tape this to your fridge, bed side table, forehead and enjoy!

1) You fitness level is what it is at this point.  It's especially important to stick to your planned workouts, adding more intense or longer workouts to what you have planned is counter productive.  Stick to the plan, it got you this far.

2) It's also a great time to really dial in on sleep and nutrition in the next 2 weeks.  So you know, it's very common to gain a few pounds during taper as you won't be working out as much.  It's easier said than done, but don't let this bother you, but if it really does, just cut back on the calories a little bit.
3) You have trained hard, you are ready. Now you have to believe that you are ready, it can make all the difference on race day.   Yea, it sounds funny, but the more positive you are, the better off you will be.  So in the next couple of weeks, hone in on every positive part of your workouts.  Even if you happen to have the worst workout ever within the next 2 weeks, find something positive about it to focus on.  We all struggle with this at times, it's normal. So do your best to flush out any negative thoughts and find a way to get past them.  You all have put a lot 'in the bank' so draw from that.  Train positive=race positive.


4) If you have any qualms with your bike, it's a great time to get a tune-up.  However, as Steve Thordarson, owner of Smart Cycling in Glenview tells us, "do it sooner than later.  Too many people wait until a few days before the race and are disappointed when the work can't get done on time, make it a part of your pre-race plan."

5) If you are interested in a pre-race massage, get one at least 6 days prior, nothing closer.
6) Two nights before your race is the most important night of sleep so ensure you get some good shut-eye especially then! 
7) Go through all your race attire and equipment this week to ensure all is in good shape.  Get an extra pair of goggles if need be, mend any wet suit tears, ensure tires and brakes are in good shape, do a final test with nutrition which may be attached to your bike (water bottle cages, water bottles, gels, Bento boxes, etc...)


8) Figure out how you will find your stuff in transition. Don't use a
balloon, everyone does that, unless it's really, really unique (a 3
foot Elmo or giant Transformer, something you can't miss).  Remember,
it'll be dark when you rack your bike and your area will look different
coming in from the swim than it will from the bike, so become familiar
with your surroundings.
9) Check out the course online and read all the rules twice.  The bike
is different from most races as you need to stay to the left of the
road and pass on the right.  Drafting is not allowed, you need to stay
3 bike lengths behind the person in front of you.
10) If you can, carpool down.  Parking is pretty easy in the garages,
but make sure you get to the transition area an hour before you're
kicked out.  It takes time to walk through the huge transition area,
find a place to rack your bike, set up your stuff, walk the area in
from the swim and in from the bike. 
11) Note to bring sunblock as many of you will have a long wait prior
to your wave start.  Try to stay in the shade and remain hydrated.
Also, bring some extra toilet paper and even baby wipes.  8000 nervous
athletes can mean a shortage in TP if you're in a later wave.

12) The Expo. is a great place to see new gear and fun toys to use down
the road, not on race day.  You never know how it's going to perform or
react with your system.  Dance with who brought you to the prom!  Do not try anything new on race day, ever.

13) Eat pretty plain foods starting a couple days beforehand, keep wheat and veggie consumption low, and maybe dairy too.
14) Start hydrating 48 hours before.  Don't allow yourself to get thirsty during this time period.

15)  Have fun, be safe, race hard.


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  • Yeah, Mary!

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