When you become a coached athlete with me, one of the questions I ask is about your goal races for the year. More often than not, athletes come to me knowing exactly what races they are hoping to compete in and have a vague idea of some others that they may want to do. I call these ‘A’ races and ‘B’ races. ‘A’ races are where we focus. It’s the few races during the year where there are specific goals that an athlete wants to accomplish – maybe it’s a PR, maybe it’s just to finish and sometimes, it’s the desire to win. ‘B’ races have less pressure, less expectation. They are the fun races or tune up races; They are events that people do year after year or race with a friend. They have a purpose but are not the focus for the year.
A good race calendar, in my opinion, has both A and B races. And since A races are probably what you are most excited about, let’s talk about why you might add some B Races
I tell EVERYONE, you get better at racing by racing. By that, I don’t mean that you should race every weekend but after almost any race, you learn something new. By gaining experience, you will feel more comfortable with standard race protocols like how early you show up for a race or how to seed yourself in a corral. The more experience you have can also help with race day nerves. The first time you do any race it’s intimidating and once you have more race experience you can call on that knowledge to help you navigate the next event.
How is this different than experience? You can actually practice a lot of race strategies and tactics in smaller, less pressure races. You can hone your pacing strategy. You can practice transitions in triathlon. You practice what it’s like to get nervous. You can fine tune nutrition. There is a lot that goes into racing and no one gets it 100% right the first (second, third,etc) time. Write down some things you would do again and some things you would do differently and then race smarter next time.
Breaking up your training
Many athletes come to me with big race goals that may be 9-12 months away. To stay focused on a single race for that amount of time will almost always cause training fatigue. One way I try to break it up is to create mini goals and attach races to them. I might have someone practice running 5K races if they are looking to be competitive in a sprint triathlon OR in a half marathon. I might put in a 70.3 for someone racing a 140.6. I might also put Olympic distance races for long course athletes. Each race would have it’s own mini-goal and be incorporated at key points in training to not take away from the main goal but to add diversity and get feedback on training.
If you are still constructing your calendar, look beyond just your ‘A’ races for the year and see what other events might fit in for you.
I am always looking to help athletes achieve their goals. Contact me for a $30, 30 min consultation to review your 2016 race plan!