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How to… race abroad
Posted by: Editor
Posted on: Thursday 3rd September 2009


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With many athletes now preparing to head off abroad to the race, be that the World Triathlon Championships in Australia, World Duathlon Championships in the USA, or perhaps Kona or Clearwater, Andy Reardon shares some thoughts on how to make the best of your trip, and still race well. As you can see in the video below, Andy has had to be fairly flexible in his approach to training while overseas!


You've worked hard this season and been justly rewarded with a place in the world champs of whatever distance you are racing or you just fancy doing a triathlon in a different country. Whatever your reasons there are several areas worth considering. I've made many mistakes over the years racing away from home and hopefully I can offer some advice to prevent you doing the same

Food/Nutrition

This can be a right pain as sports nutrition is very different depending on the country you are in. Find the number for a local tri/run/bike shop and see what they sell otherwise you may have to allow some of your valuable baggage allowance on nutrition. If you decide to go with something you can buy locally then try it early so you avoid any possible stomach problems on race day.

Bike

It’s nice to know where the nearest bike shop is in case of mechanicals. Try calling or emailing the secretary of a local tri club before you head out. They can normally offer advice on the best shops, mechanics and may even offer to show you around the course. Getting your bike out there can be very stressful and I always try to do as little walking with my bike box as possible. It’s heavy and awkward so it’s well worth getting yourself and the bike delivered to and picked up from the terminal so you don’t arrive at the accommodation with sore shoulders and back.

Choosing the right airline can also be fraught as some will offer cheap tickets but extort you on the baggage allowance for the bike. It’s worth considering what state you will arrive in if you spend 12+ hrs cramped in like a sardine rather than spending that little bit extra for the legroom.

Course Recce

If you've spent all that time and money getting to a race destination then it is definitely worth not just driving but actually cycling and running some or all of the course. Depending on how early you arrive it can always be done as acclimatization. If you are racing an IM distance course then get picked up or dropped off at sections on the route so that you don’t overdo it.

Accommodation

Book early! Do lots of research and ask a local club but where you stay will make a huge difference to how you arrive on the start line. I always try to check out what kind of food they do for breakfast or get a self catering flat so I can make my own meals. If it’s a hotel, will they do an early breakfast on race day? How noisy is the area? What are the beds like, where is the nearest pool? Do they have somewhere you can store your bike? Is there a spa?

Acclimatisation

There are many studies out there but how well acclimatised to your new environment you are will have a massive impact on your race. The stress and lugging around of suitcases and bike will be equivalent to a hard training day so you will need to take it easy at first. Then there may be jet lag to contend with and here I normally use a day per hour of time change. Heat, humidity, altitude and for the nutters among us, cold will also take time to get used to and this should be factored in. It took me almost two weeks to acclimatise in California in April and I'm allowing five weeks for Florida! This will be different for everyone and we’re not all able to get the time off work, but do factor in as much acclimatization time as possible.

Packages

A number of companies offer package deals for high profile events and the extra cash spent can often be well worth your while in saving the stress and hassle of doing it yourself. Just please make sure that what is being offered suits your needs.

Unwind afterwards

Once the race is over and whether good or bad the worst thing you can do is get on a cramped flight and add the stress of travelling to the fatigue of racing. Take a few extra days to enjoy the area. While I'm preparing for a race I normally see several places or attractions that I just don’t have time to visit that I can enjoy after the event. Some quality time to chill and enjoy the location while getting some stretching and good nutrition onboard will make the whole experience much more enjoyable. It’s also a good way to start making up to loved ones for all the sacrifices that they have made over the season!!

Good luck

Here's a glimpse of Andy dealing with some difficult overseas conditions...


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