Ahead of the World Triathlon Championship Series (WTCS) opener in Yokohama on 15 May, we caught up with British triathlete Beth Potter to hear how she prepares for race day.
Having made the switch from running to multisport after Rio 2016, Potter is a relative newcomer to the triathlon scene. Since then, she’s bagged a gold at the Olympic Distance European Championships in 2019, won Super League’s Arena Games in London and broke the world record for the best 5k time on road.
Her attention now turns to Yokohama, where she’ll be racing this weekend. Here, she breaks down exactly how she’s prepared for race day in in the weeks and months leading up to it.
Run up to race season
Training has been pretty stable now since I’ve been back from my break. I eased myself back in through December and then tried to push on after the new year. I had quite a late break because I raced at the end of last season.
I’ve been really working on my swim and my bike, but not really been paying much attention to my running, which is why I was surprised to run so fast [for the 5k record]. I’ve been really knuckling down and trying to prioritise the sessions around swim and bike.
On the bike side I’ve been trying to put myself in uncomfortable situations training with a group. I’m always at the back of the group and don’t feel confident, so I’ve been forcing myself to feel more confident with that… It’s been working, I feel much better.
One month before race day
To be honest, it didn’t change for Super League or anything. I’ve been doing the same thing all throughout. Super League London was on the Saturday and I was really conscious of getting out on my long run and my long ride on the Sunday. I didn’t do a whole lot of tapering going into those races.
Everything’s been geared toward Yokohama and the start of the WTCS season. In the run-up I’ve been really trying to keep the base there and just not miss sessions. No matter if I feel tired, I’m still turning up.
Two weeks before race day
I’ve been trying to bank some sleep this week, because I think it’s going to be disruptive next week. The only thing that’s really changed is practicing little things like thinking through the wetsuit, transitions, running off the bike and going from swim to bike. I’ve been dialling in those things among other training.
There’s a lot to think about now. I’m usually someone that leaves it until Saturday to pack for going away on Sunday. But I’m definitely more on it because of the extra Covid things we’ve got to do. And we’re going to be in our rooms a lot, so I’m just trying to think through things to do in the hotel room when I’m not allowed to go out. That’s been keeping me busy this week.
I don’t think I’ll have the opportunity to go around the course [before the race], so I’ve been watching 2016 to 2019 Yokohama races and I feel like I know them like the back of my hand now, so that’s good.
The next couple of days I’ll be getting up early to try and get on Japanese time, so I’ve got an early start tomorrow, Saturday and Sunday. I’m just trying to prepare in the best possible way. I feel like all the training is done, so I just need to get the other wee bits right.
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One week before race day
Saturday I’ve got a run session planned with my coach quite early. Then I’ll go out on the bike with some friends and do a steady ride. I’ll have a fairly normal training day on Sunday as well, with a longish bike and a longish run, and then I’ll get a transfer down to London and go to bed early.
I’ll probably do a jog on Monday before I leave Heathrow. Monday is a bit of a write-off, it’s just a travel day and I think Tuesday we can’t train either, so I’ll just do a bit of yoga in my room, get checked over by the physio and try to stay awake all day.
I don’t have it in front of me, but I think on Wednesday I have a swim and a bike. If I can run, I’ll run. Nothing hard, maybe something like 15 minutes of effort and then an easy spin on the bike.
On Thursday I’ll swim again with a bit of threshold training in there and a steady bike. Then on Friday I’ll swim the course and probably just do a bit of mobility in my room.
We’re not allowed out [of the room] at all through the week unless it’s for training, but I’ve got Netflix. I’ve got plenty of food so that I can spice up the hotel meals that we get. I’ve organised FaceTime calls and will read my book, listen to music and podcasts, and FaceTime my dog so he remembers my voice… I don’t know if we’ll be allowed to socialise with other people in our bubble, but hopefully I can.
It’s quite an early start. It’s a 10am race. I’ll probably get up quite early, I usually do on race day, and then I’ll have some food. I usually speak to my mum or someone before, but I don’t know if they’ll be up, so I’ll do something to take my mind off it, like listen to Taylor Swift and try and chill out.
Then I’ll go down to the race venue. I don’t think I’ll do a swim warm-up. It’s a bit cold for me so I’ll probably run for the warm up. Once I’m down there I’ll get in the zone and do my usual warm-up. I’m normally okay by that point.
After the race
Whatever result it is, I try and either celebrate or grieve it for a day and then get back to the grind… I’m usually straight back into it [training], depending how I feel. I might be a bit tired from travel this time, but yeah, I’m usually straight back on it.
For more information about the race in Yokohama, take a look at the event page on the WTCS website.
Top photo credit: Bryn Lennon/Getty Images