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The Type A Triathlete: 15 Ways to Prep for Success

I may not be the world’s fastest triathlete, but I am pretty sure I could compete in some kind of head-to-head prep challenge with the pros! I am a true believer in the quote “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail,” and I think it’s one of many ways that you can get yourself ahead in the world of triathlon (in addition to: speedwork, rest, nutrition, really nice gear, etc. etc. etc.). Here are a few of my top preparation tips in hopes that they can help a few others looking to get organized in their triathlon life.

This post is divided into three parts, each one with five ways that I prep:

  1. Weekly prep – every Sunday, baby!
  2. Nightly prep – every weeknight!
  3. Long ride prep – usually every Friday evening!

Read on for a peek into how I prep as well as some tips you can take into your own training and race day preparations.

Weekly Prep: here’s what I do on a weekly basis (typically Sundays) to make sure I am set up for success all week long:

  1. Laundry: I try to get everything done, but especially my spandex/workout laundry so that I’m not fumbling around for clothes in the middle of the week.
  2. Pre-Workout Fuel: I pack up all of my pre-workout fuel for the week! We keep it very simple in our house – plain, all natural, no sugar added applesauce (from Costco) packed into reusable (baby) food pouches and stored in the fridge. Makes the 5am pre-workout eating a no-brainer.
  3. Review Workout Schedule: This seems like a “duh” item, but sometimes I get so busy that I forget, and then inevitably end up with questions about my workouts. So, I make a point to open up Training Peaks, read through the description of each workout to make sure I understand everything, and compare it with my personal/work calendars to make sure everything seems realistic and achievable.
  4. Food Prep: Rather than go all out and prep/pack every single meal like the #mealprep Instagram posts you see from bodybuilders, I focus on three things: chopping up ingredients for the salads that I eat for lunch almost every day, making sure I have vegetable side dishes to eat for dinner, and making a big batch of cold brew iced coffee!
  5. Clean Up: Setting aside 20-30 minutes to clean up whatever mess has accumulated (bike computers and water bottles all over the dining room table, running belt strewn over the couch, etc.) and put things where they belong helps me reduce stress and find the things I need faster during the week.

Nightly Prep: I do these things every weeknight so that the next day can run smoothly. If I have social plans or work late, I just try to tackle as much as I can!

  1. Empty Gym Bag: Get everything out of your gym bag – sweaty clothes, nutrition wrappers, sneakers, etc. Leaving things sitting around will just make things smelly and stale, so this is a good step one to do as soon as you get home, giving things time to air out before you repack it all over again!
  2. Pack Lunch: Since you’ve done a thorough food prep over the weekend, you can likely just toss together some ingredients to form your salad or other lunch item in under 5 minutes.
  3. Recovery Nutrition: Don’t forget this! A wise spin class instructor once reminded me that if you don’t refuel properly after the workout, you might as well not do the workout at all. I try to remember this and always pack my recovery fuel the night before.
  4. Tomorrow’s Workout: Lay out all of your workout clothes the night before, including shoes, socks, heart rate monitor, gloves, running belt, lights, or anything else you need to get up and out the door quickly in the morning.
  5. Tomorrow’s Work Clothes: If you’re getting ready at the gym, pool or somewhere else, you’ll need to be extremely thorough about this. Even if I’m getting ready at home, I try to lay out clothes for the next day so I have one less thing to think about before I get out the door (and can set the alarm a minute or two later)!

Long Ride Prep: Saturdays are usually my long ride days, so I try to make Friday night low key and get a lot of my preparation done the night before so that I can wake up and roll out faster in the morning (especially in the oppressively hot and humid D.C. summer).

  1. Hydration and Nutrition: I mix up my Tailwind in my bottles,
  2. Kit: From my cycling kit (already clean thanks to my weekly prep!) to my heart rate strap, I lay everything out #FlatLauren style so I don’t have to do any thinking when the alarm goes off.
  3. Route Planned Out: D.C. is a weird conundrum of cycling routes – there are some great bike trails, but they’re often overrun with people who are not trying to get into zone 4 (or even zone 2). There are limited options for safe roads to ride on, unless you want to drive out of the city and start 45 minutes away. Since it takes a little creativity, I try to have the route planned out in advance and a cue sheet printed if I need one.
  4. Bike Prepped: Ideally I’ll bring my bike up from the basement, placed the tire pump right next to my bike, double checked my flat repair kit, attached my bento box, put my (charged) bike computer on its mount and made sure everything is in working order.
  5. Other Essentials: I’m much less likely to forget sunscreen, chamois cream, chapstick and other key items if they’re laid out the night before!

With all of this prep done, I have a lot less reasons to miss workouts and feel like I am set up for short-term success.  But, there’s a lot of things I did not cover here – like race prep and season prep and planning. What are your best “life hacks” that leave you more prepared and ready to take on triathlon training and racing? 

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links. 

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