It’s that time of year when we all start to race or think about it. For many of us some of these first races are non- priority races or “training races”. There are a few different ideas as to what a training race is and how it should be done. Some people think that it just means you don’t taper and “train through it” giving us a nice excuse for not doing well. In fact a training race is a prime opportunity to get great training, important experience and test our self’s in the exact environment that we are trying to excel in the first place. Here are a few key points to consider and plan out when doing your early season race’s and race simulation workouts.
1. Its still a Race: A training race is NOT a time to waist 100$ (or what ever) to swim, ride and run around in a circle with a bunch of other spandex clad freaks for the heck of it! It is an opportunity to really test your self, in the field and against your pears instead of your self. With this, aim for a specific, measurable goal. While this training race will not require a 3 week peeking phase you should take the few days before to make sure you are well rested and ready for a good effort, physically, mentally and with all your equipment working 100%! You have committed the money, time, energy, the sacrifice of getting up at, still dark out- thirty to meet at some random state park. Make it worth while!
2. Make a goal: If you have been working hard on your cycling all winter and spring, your first non-priority Tri of the year might be a good event to focus on the bike leg 100%. See how fast you can really go. How hard you can push your self, and how does that compare to your competition? If you know the course and/or the condition are very similar to last years race. See if you can beat that bike split of yours. Stay within 2’ of crazy Phil, the ex-Belgian pro road racer. Yes, the Bike leg is only 1 part of the whole triathlon conundrum but one step at a time, it’s a “training race” remember… On the other hand you and your coach, might be working on your cycling but aren’t to the point where you want to throw down yet. So focusing on a solid effort in the swim and/or run will be better suited, while your bike leg will be time to focus on being efficient and not extending your self too far as opposed to trying to break the sound barrier on the fast decent coming into T2. instead how fast/well can you run after riding steady smart and keeping your HR and/or wattage under a certain level?
3. Gain experience. Learn. A training race is a prim opportunity to learn. About your self, about your competition, your preparation, your fueling plan, your equipment, your warm up (or there lack of) if you run well in the wind, on the hills or down hills? How did you feel afterwards? Like you just parted the seas? Or do you feel recovered after 15’ of hanging out by the kiddy pool of Powerade and table of bananas, thinking “man I could have gone way harder?” The list goes on. Come the big race day you can’t afford to be caught off guard by something silly. A cross wind hitting your fancy new disc wheel, your cool new tri team tank top and tri shorts fitting right in your aero position, and how big are those pockets? Do they fit 1 or 2 cliff bars? Gaining as much experience about your self, and how your body works in a race situation will have you better prepared come the big day. This may not have you breaking any records but when the going gets tough the prepared shine trough. Anyone can post a personal best in there ideal conditions on there ideal terrain. You want a personal best in any conditions, on any terrain, on any decided day.