by Rachel McBride and Chris Bagg

Ed. Note—It's Black Friday, and although we hope you're enjoying your shopping day, we wanted to extend you a brief break, whether you're kicking it at Starbucks between shopping bouts or comparing blenders on Amazon. We've been sitting on this piece for a while because—as you may know—Rachel McBride is The Most Interesting Person in Triathlon, and when she has something to say we sit up and listen. She joins us to continue our series of Habits and Practices of our Professionals.

Pre-race routine—do you have a set schedule you do every morning before a race?

Absolutely. I have a pre-set schedule I keep as a note on my phone: starts with my alarm time and finishes with the race start. For each race I just tweak it depending on the race start time and logistics. This allows me to easily repeat my typical morning routine and not have to remember it all over again each time (and probably forget something!).

I’ve included a screenshot of my usual routine details. I give myself some extra time here and there so I’m not rushed, especially if something comes up last minute!

Is there something you do in racing or training that you view as sacred but someone else might think of as strange? Would you mine sharing it with us?

I don’t think I do anything particularly odd, though my evening routine includes doing calf raises and walking on my tip toes when I brush my teeth…multitasking with some foot strength exercises!

Something you wish all age-group triathletes did or understood:

I have 3 things!

  1. I think for ANY triathlete, it’s important to keep the highs and lows of training in perspective. It’s easy to focus on the negative and be so hard on ourselves if one workout doesn’t go as planned in a slew of good, consistent training.
  2. And speaking of consistency, that would be another really great point. Getting in 50% of your weekly workouts over several months is way more beneficial than doing almost nothing for a few months and then 100% for the few weeks before a race. Avoid panic training!
  3. My girlfriend Steph and I like to say “warm-up like a Kenyan” or to quote Tower 26 swim coach Gerry Rodrigues: “not a hard stroke.” Slow down and leave the hard efforts for when you are really supposed to go fast! 

Piece of gear/purchase (other than big ticket items such as bikes/wheels) that you couldn’t live without—doesn’t have to be racing/training related:

My toe spacers, aromatherapy oils, and ball for rolling my feet. These follow me around pretty much everywhere!

Book/movie/music you have recommended most to others and why:

The Rise of Superman by Stephen Kotler: amazing book on extreme athletes and the science behind flow state.

The most important thing you’ve changed in your approach to the sport in the last eighteen months:

I hired a run coach! About 18 months ago I started working with Lisa Bentley on my running. I really appreciate her positivity and ability to work around my unique multi-coach scenario.