Train As You Want to Race
The following was written by club founder, Scott 'Aardvark' Penny, as guidance for 'the Zoo'
Train as you want to race. What does that mean exactly? How can I go hard all the time? What exactly is my race pace or effort? These and many more important questions cannot be answered in a week, a month or sometimes not even a year. Working out just how far and fast you can go takes lots and lots of practice and that is the key word – practice! That doesn’t always mean going flat out, but it should always mean practicing good habits, in technique, in preparation and mentally. Lets simplify this process, particularly for those new to the sport and taking up longer challenges soon.
A) This starts, days weeks and months before your planned race or races. It doesn’t mean hammering out every session, but it does mean working on your technique at EVERY training session you do. So if you're tired and can't make the planned pacing, it is still important to think about your technique during EVERY stroke of your set.
It still means thinking about the way you sit on your bike, the way you pedal full circles, and even the way you handle your bike. And it still means thinking about your running form and posture during even your easiest runs. WHY? Because when you race and get tired, the main reason you slow down is because when you fatigue you lose form, simple as that. You can often salvage a good result, even when not so fit, if you can maintain good technique throughout your race.
B) This is the time closer to the race. Preparing your gear the night before. Use a checklist and go through all the items you need and any backup needs. Place them all together ready to pack in your bag the next morning, perhaps after a double check.
C) Know where the race is. Know exactly what time it starts. Know when transition closes. Know where the toilets are. Know what time your wave start is. KNOW THE COURSE! Every race I have ever been to, is full of large groups of people, standing on the beach, trying to work out the swim course. No one has bothered to look at the maps in transition. And everyone still says “Oh it doesn’t matter I will just follow someone“. Well if you find yourself alone, what next. Practice these important preparation procedures at every opportunity. Saturday afternoon swim / run’s, club events at Golden Beach or Ewen Maddock, they all represent the perfect chance to get this right. And don’t just allow yourself to cut the course, or shorten the bike course because you didn’t want to ask again at the briefing.
Ok you don’t have to race through like an ITU star. But again, being organised will not only save you time but lessen the stress & anxiety as you change disciplines. Practice at home in the driveway, first setting up your bike area, then changing into your runners. Short races, practice no socks, practice putting your helmet and sunnies on, even slipping your race singlet over the top if that’s what you do. Longer races, I have seen people waste crazy amounts of time by being unnecessarily slow and unorganised with their transitions. Remember, it is not a fashion show, and nobody looks too glamorous when they are sweating, snotting and huffing out on course. Get your gear on and get out there. The quicker you start, the quicker you are in the recovery tent and contemplating your celebratory drink.
3. WARM UP
This is not a dirty word. I heard at least 3 people say after a Ewen Maddock race, I felt great to about 150m, then I started going backwards (or crooked as their technique fell apart). You CANNOT put a wetsuit on, walk into the water, swim fast for 150m and then expect to finish it off, if you have not done some sort of warm up. You will lactate quickly and you will often slow dramatically. I have been to many cold races where getting in the water prior to start time is not an option. But, you can spend 10-20 minutes doing dry land exercises that will have you ready to start fast. I did not see 1 person even swinging their arms around on this day, and everyone had the opportunity to actually swim 1-200m before the start. Again, it doesn’t matter what distance event, but the shorter & faster the distance, then the longer the warm up needs to be. Likewise, the bike and run. That’s why preparation sets up what else happens correctly. If you are there early enough, and organised, then you can prepare your warm up adequately, and lessen the chance of blowing up around the first bouy.
4. PRACTICE THE HURT
If you set out to do 16x100 repeats in the pool. DO IT !
If you want to ride the Thursday ride with fast group. TRY IT !
If you want to break 20 minutes for the 5k run, then you have to try and run faster than before. The too often heard “just see how I feel” is the single greatest impediment to success for age group triathletes. Set yourself a challenge, take it on and give it your best. Of course sometimes it just wont happen, or you may be sick or even injured ? But too many times we cut short our effort, because we simply cant be bothered ? Or it hurts ? Going fast hurts ! Practice feeling uncomfortable. The more often you do, the more comfortable with that feeling you become – SIMPLE !
5. STICK TO YOUR PLAN OR DIRECTION
There are no shortcuts to success. It takes time to develop both an aerobic & technique base so be patient. Changing your directions, short or long term, is not the quick way to success. If you mix up training plans from the 3 best coaches, you still get a mix. In comparison, a direction set out in consultation with someone less credentialed, but one who knows you, and your strengths and weaknesses, is more likely to be specific and gain better results. Alternatively, if you only have limited time and are training to a strict regular routine, stick to it, be patient and simply add, alter or adjust the sets or distances within those sessions. Beware – the online plan. It is generic and doesn’t take any of your personal factors into consideration. Use it as a guide, but don’t treat it like its gospel.
Finally – ALWAYS ENJOY WHAT YOU DO. If it becomes a chore, then its time to change, or even stop. It HAS TO BE FUN (well mostly).