There’s been some great racing from my Tri Squad over the last few weeks. Here’s a few thoughts to help them (and you) to navigate their(your) way through races and the early part of the race season.
1. Most important of all: take the time and opportunity to be proud and pleased with having done something that is beyond “normal”. As endurance racers what we do is way beyond what the overwhelming majority of people would even contemplate. However you feel a race went you’re a winner in the most important race of all – the Human Race.
2. If your race isn’t a high priority race in your season then expect performance to be less than desired. Experience tells us that we can only truly achieve a peak performance 2 or 3 times in a season; that means we can’t expect to be at our best at lower priority races. In reality if we achieve a peak performance at a low priority race then the likelihood is that we got something wrong in our training plan. Similarly the higher the peak we achieve in a high priority race the bigger will be the dip after that until our next high priority race. So it’s really important not to judge the time or performance in those low priority races but just do our best to enjoy them and learn from them for the important races coming up.
3. After any race, whatever the outcome and for any competitor (beginner to Pro) the single most important component of future success is to go back to doing good work on the training field. We must always focus on doing the fundamentals as well as we can. After a race there is a danger that we can start overanalysing what we need to do to get to a better performance. Lots of “Marginals” can become attractive at that point and magazines and inexperienced athletes and coaches can turn to those as quick fixes and neglect the fundamentals. We always need to be focusing on the fundamentals of doing good work. To quote Stuart Macmillan who quotes Antoine de Saint-Exupery:
“perfection is achieved not when there is nothing more to add but when there is nothing left to take away”.
Instead of letting your mind go into overdrive about what you need to add to get better first look at what you can take away to get better, for example:
o Take away doing sessions that aren’t in your training plan or are radically different,
o Take away judging a session as successful based on how tired you feel at the end of it rather than by how closely you met its objectives,
o Take away a night of compromised sleep each week,
o Take away any grey zone sessions,
o Take away chasing that dude/gal on the road that drags you into a grey zone session,
o Take away one unhealthy food/drink choice,
o Take away going through the motions in a training session rather than razor sharp focus on technique improvement,
o Take away judgement of a low priority race,
o Take away listening to advice from the inexperienced and/or the non-invested,
The more we can strip away to just leave the fundamentals as our focus and the more we practice improving the fundamentals the greater will be our performance gains.
4. Learn from every race. There’s a great saying that “the only bad race is one we don’t learn from”. It’s important to try and extract key learning points from every race and that should cover things that went well as well as things that could have gone better. For the things that went well make sure you embed those in your routine so they become second nature. For the things that could have gone better create an action plan of things to do to make them go better the next time.
5. Take time to thank your crew. Every endurance athlete knows that it takes a team to get an athlete on to the start line and successfully through the finish line. Family, friends, training partners and even the race organisers all played a part in your race and your season so take the time to thank them.
I hope the points above are helpful and offer a fresh perspective to help you on your way to great race performances in the future.
Train Smart and see you at the races.