Preparing to race again
Events are appearing on the calendar again. Hopefully, you’ve had a good offseason involving some well-earned rest before slowly starting to build some strength and volume. However, wherever your fitness is at, with only 6 to 8 weeks away from your chosen event it is time to focus on being the best you can. Here are my 3 top pointers on being ready to race.
- Prepare to race by doing race-specific training
Whatever the chosen race you are doing, it is hard to expect to do well if your body does not understand what racing paces feel like. Race-specific training is hard, and shouldn’t be done on back-to-back days. However, by doing some interval sessions at the target race pace you plan to use, it allows the body to adapt for what will occur when racing. Doing race-specific training helps you to understand what heart rates you might expect to see on race day (if using a heart rate monitor) but more importantly what the perceived effort feels like. Nobody else can tell you what it feels like to race at your chosen pace, and should your tracking equipment malfunction having an idea on the effort you need to hold can be invaluable.
- Prepare to race by racing
Are there any local club races 2-3 weeks before your key event? These types of races provide an excellent tune-up. Choose a low key race to do a few weeks out from your goal race is as specific training as you can get. It provides a perfect opportunity to practice nutrition, the new race kit you wanted to use, and any other changes you might want to try out. Personally I’ve used smaller events to test bike position changes and being grateful for finding out the change would be too aggressive for a longer triathlon (I’d probably not have been able to run as I couldn’t straighten my back!). Doing a race also allows you to experience some nerves that you may experience from having competition. The process of signing in and preparing to race is all wonderful experience, to be better equipped for your key race.
- Prepare to race by reducing fatigue
Preparing for a race involves pushing yourself hard in training. This creates a lot of load on the body and it is really important to reduce the volume to compensate. If you continue with the same volume as usual, while also increasing the intensity specifically needed to race well then you can quickly become overtrained.
“it’s better to be 10% under-done than 1% over-done” – Chris McCormack (4 x World Champion)
It is always better to do a little less training than you think you can accomplish than to overdo it. Training progress is all about consistency and one particular session will not make an enormous amount of improvement in fitness. However, one session too much and quickly undoes a lot of hard work. As you near the race you’ve entered you want to be feeling fresh not just physically, but also mentally. In my experience, it can take longer for the mind to recover from pushing yourself hard time after time, than it does for my body to be physically okay. As you reduce the volume in the last couple of weeks, consider maintaining your training ‘time’ by adding in specific rest periods for napping or just sitting with your legs up. Remember that you are recharging yourself mentally and physically, to push when it counts. After all, it’s the race that matters, rather than what times you do in training.