04 Apr 3 Tips for a Successful Race Season

By Carrie Lester (Professional Triathlete)

One of the most important things I have learned in the last few years of professional triathlon racing is the need to be flexible. We need to be flexible in our training schedules due to such things as injury, illness, weather, social/family/work commitments, and because sometimes life just gets in the way. The same extends to how we plan our race schedules; sometimes things beyond our control force changes. I’ve found flexibility and acceptance is the best policy.

I have started the last few years with a sound race schedule, only to have it completely changed around by unforeseen circumstances. Recently, I travelled halfway around the world to compete in Ironman New Zealand, only to find myself so sick I had to withdraw from the competition, before it even started. Disappointed? Yes. Able to rethink and regroup? Yes. By April my schedule was now a different schedule than when I first laid it out. Years of encountering the unexpected have definitely helped shape my attitude and ability to accept and move forward. While it may be easier for professional athletes to quickly change their schedules, I also know of Age Group athletes that have been able to change their schedules when things have gone wrong and ultimately still achieve their competition goals. Remain flexible in your thinking and approach and a detour doesn’t have to be the end, in fact it could lead to another exciting challenge.

If I can give any advice when it comes to planning your race schedule, it would be to keep these three things in mind:

1. Always have a Plan B

There is never just one way to get somewhere, but you have to be open and willing to try another way – and once the decision is made, back it with all of your energy and focus. There are a plethora of triathlon races to choose from today and if Kona is your goal, find a way to get there that works for you – and make it happen!

2. Don’t be too hard on yourself if things go pear shaped

I know, much easier said than done. It is in our nature to pick ourselves apart sometimes (lots of times), but it is counterproductive if we want to move forward with a new plan. So have yourself a pity party for 24 hours and then MOVE ON.

3. Include “experience” races

Take the pressure off yourself and don’t make the season all about one race. There are many iconic races around the world offering some serious challenges and amazing experiences. Do one with a group of friends and the experience becomes even more memorable. I mean that’s why we do the sport we do, right? It’s the challenges it brings and the memories & friendships it creates that keeps us coming back for more.

An old coach of mine would always say, “Improvise and Overcome”. The words are true in everything we do, and in order to achieve anything in life being able to do this quickly and smoothly will always result in success. One way or another.

Happy training and racing!


Carrie Lester is a professional triathlete from Australia who now resides in Cardiff by the Sea, California. She has raced as a professional since 2009 and in that time has won 7 iron distance titles and had multiple podium finishes over the iron and half iron distance. Her most notable performances to date have been her 10th place finish in the 2016 Ironman World Championships and her 2nd place at 2016 Challenge Roth where she finished in a personal best time of 8.42.  Carrie is coached by her partner, Scott DeFilippis of KIS Coaching, and are XRCEL ambassadors.

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