10 Ways to Avoid Ruining Your Next Race

Some people try to sabotage their own race. To make it easier for these self-saboteurs to ruin their potential for the benefit of their competition, I'll offer some tips. Each tip can be used solo or in combination with other tips. While there is no guarantee that you'll spoil your race, the odds are better if you use the multi-tip package.

Let's get started.

1. Increase training volume. This tip is best executed in the four weeks prior to race day. Athletes who implement this item take a look at the calendar and notice that the race is getting darn close. Worried that they haven't done enough training, these athletes significantly ramp up the volume in the weeks and days leading up to their event. The result is fatigue and slow times on race day.

2. Decrease or eliminate training. Training has gone well up to the four or six weeks from race day. However, multiple things distract you from your training plan. You're busy and there just isn't enough time or energy to train. Because the race is on your mind and you think of it often, it almost seems like you are training. After all, you do have good intentions. I'm not talking about race tapering here—I'm referring to training only one or two times per week. The result on race day is the death-march feeling.

More: 5 Little Things That Make a Big Difference on Race Day

3. Don't keep a training log. If you don't keep a training log, your unreliable memory will play tricks on you. Because there is no data, it is hard for you to determine when you're heading for trouble. After you're in trouble, it is difficult to diagnose what items caused the problem because your path to race day is invisible. If you manage to have a bad race, it is more difficult to prevent this from happening again without a training log. The result is that you can repeat old mistakes, ruining more than one race.

4. Get new gear less than a week before the race. Purchase as much new gear as possible in the few days before the race. If you must try it out, keep the testing minimal. Increase the odds of ruining your race by using as much new gear as possible on race day.

5. Try new techniques on race day. To ruin your race, try new techniques—the more the merrier. A good example is running without socks. Make race day the first time to run in your new racing flats without socks. This sets you up for a high probability of blisters and other foot problems.

Compromising your form because you're limping or hobbling from blisters can cause knee, hip and back problems. Injuries that take a long time to heal are a long-term bonus to merely ruining one race.

6. Schedule more than normal amounts of work and personal obligations. This tip is for the superhero person who believes he or she can do it all. After committing to training for a race, this person accepts more work responsibilities. It is best if the work responsibilities include travel, though cross-country or foreign travel is not mandatory. In addition to taking on more work, seek more personal obligations, too. The absolute best result is if you never say no to any request for your time.

More: How to Reduce GI Distress on Race Day

7. Eat high-fiber foods in your last few pre-race meals. High-fiber foods are wonderful and healthy. They keep your digestive system regular. There is a time and place for these healthy foods. Eating them the night before the race and for race morning breakfast is sure to make you miserable. If those two meals just aren't enough to make you feel wretched, use high-fiber foods for your race fueling.

For example, a mix of black beans or lentils, broccoli and brown rice for your pre-race meal is a nice start. Dessert must include fresh raspberries. Bran cereal for breakfast is a must. Nice toppings include fruits with the skins left on—green apples are a good choice. Eating high-fiber foods pre-race will ensure you get full use of the port-a-potties.

8. Plenty of alcohol and little sleep the night before the race. Get yourself caught up in visiting and partying with old and new friends the night before the race. Or get an early jump on celebrating race victories. Those that stay up late enough and enjoy enough alcohol can begin assigning podium spots. Race day can be a rude slap of reality, but heck, worry about that tomorrow.

More: Dave Scott's Top 5 Race-Day Nutrition Tips

9. Base your goal race performance on others. Certainly don't base your training and race goals on your own capabilities and time standards. Rather, base your goals on the top athletes in your category or even professional performances.

10. Arrive to the race as late as possible. Assume the roads to the race will be traffic-free and parking a breeze. Imagine a completely unobstructed path from house to venue and from your car to the transition area. While you're dreaming, envision a race transition where everyone but you has racked their bicycles, but magically they left you the best spot on the rack. If you want to excel on this tip, leave even later and create that fun adrenaline rush panic causes. Race-morning mania is always appreciated by your support crew, race staff and other racers, too.

There are definitely more ways to ruin your race, and this list is far from complete. When you read the list, did you see any items that you've already accomplished? How about some of your training and racing buddies, did you see any of their race-ruining antics?

If you decide you don't want to ruin your race, consider doing the exact opposite of these tips.

More: Last-Minute Tips for Your First Tri

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