Are you one of those athletes I see every year waiting for the perfect moment to be race fit and ready?
Are you putting all your eggs in one basket by entering one or two races a year?
Are you waiting for that one special moment in time when all the stars align for you and you achieve that elusive “ peak performance” on one special day each year?
If so, this blog is for you.
The reason some people aren’t prepared to put themselves out there to race is because of fear and uncertainty, this is understandable (to a certain extent) but it’s a mindset that can slow down your progress.
The excuses I frequently hear are:
“ I need to get more training under my belt”
“ I just don’t feel ready”
“ What if my times are really slow?“
“ It will all come together later in the year on race day anyway”
The problem with this kind of thinking is it’s usually these athletes who find themselves under performing at their chosen “A” races. This is largely due to them being overwhelmed both mentally and physically by the occasion. They just don’t have the tools in their kit bag to deal with it.
From my experience the athletes who get they out there to race frequently, always end up performing better in their chosen A races later in the year. Why? Because they start to blow off all the mental and physical cobwebs as early as possible. Think of it as peeling off the layers of your racing skin. Each time you get out there and race you learn something about yourself, you then start to slowly reveal the true athlete within.
Why do I put such heavy emphasis on racing? It’s easy, because there is nothing better to help develop you both mentally and physically for the bigger races you might have ahead. Its also provides a huge source of mental stimulation and motivation to get you out the door to start your training. Its also helps you develop that racing edge and sharpness you will need later in the year. There’s no greater confidence booster to knowing you’ve arrived at your big race for the year with a full bank of races and race experiences tucked away.
They key factor is not to place such a heavy emphasis on smaller races in terms of “peak performance”. These races are just part of a bigger jigsaw puzzle that needs to be completed, they help you add the pieces. They give you the push you need to test yourself, helping you grow and become stronger for the experience. What you learn through these experiences will make you a stronger athlete when the big races come around.
It’s also important to note that caution should be applied when considering racing if you’ve had an injury, are currently injured, you’ve been ill or you have done no training at all for quite some time. Then you have to be sensible and cautious with your race choices. The decision making process is key there is no rush. If you are returning from illness or injury you will need time to recover and the length of this will depend on the nature of what you have been through. Its a given that if you’ve done no running for 6 weeks then a half marathon in 4 weeks might not be the best idea. Maybe a 5km park run or local race would be the best idea. There’s plenty out there and don’t limit yourself to triathlons, there plenty of sportive, time trials, running races, open water swims, duathlons, aquathlons out there to keep you busy all year round with more mental and physical stimulation than you could possibly imagine.
Racing also provides the perfect opportunity to test many things, these included pacing strategies, race plans, nutritional choices and choice of kit ( more important than you think to avoid nagging discomfort !). It also allows you to see where you fitness is at, this will then tell you what needs to be worked on.
Also make sure you pick some races that test a weakness, don’t always play to your strengths. Weaknesses need to be turned into strengths and it doesn’t happen if you neglect them.
Rarely do I ever see any athlete have the perfect build up to a race, there is always something that comes up to test your resolve. Be it injury, illness or life stress, what matters most is how you deal with the situation. Without question some of the best performances I have ever seen a from my athletes are when they’ve had the least perfect build up to their A races. Why ? Because they are still prepared to put themselves out there no matter what. You never know what might happen out there and fortune does really favour the brave.
So start to get excited about the race season ahead, if you haven’t already done so start to build that race schedule. A couple of races (or at least one per month )will be just the push you need.
As for the perfect moment to race, there isn’t one.
Racing frequently helps develop an attitude, an attitude that says:
“I’m ready for anything come race day. Lets the chips fall where they may, nothing will stop me from achieving my goal”.
Have fun out there.