This month at Endurance Corner, we have been talking about race planning. Often an overlooked aspect of racing, many athletes will show up and “wing it”, assuming their fitness is all they need to race well. I have seen “A” races blown to bits before the race even started due to a lack of a solid race plan. Another limiter I have witnessed is the inability to adapt on the fly and go to a plan B or C.
Showing up to a race with a plan is vital to doing well. Here are some points to consider:
- What do you hope to achieve?
- Do you have specific time goals or placing goals?
- Who is your competition?
- What are your pacing considerations, power and pace?
- What and when do you plan to eat?
- What is the temperature going to be like?
- What is the layout of transition?
- What are the key site markers on land for the swim course?
- Is there a current in the swim, and if so, how should you attack the course?
- How do you plan to warm up?
- Is your bike tuned up and checked over?
- Is your gear packed and ready to go?
These are important questions to answer before heading into the water for the swim, and are really just a sampling of what should be known before starting the race. The athlete who is most prepared, both mentally and physically, will have a giant leg up.
The longer the race, the more important planning becomes. For an Ironman, it is absolutely critical to have the day well thought out, as well as the two days prior. Simple decisions made on Friday and Saturday before IM will impact race day . . . what to eat, how much sleep and the amount of time spent on your feet. It is very important, especially if traveling, to understand the logistics of the race and to communicate the race plan to those supporting you. Find out where the accommodations are in relation to the race site and be sure the foods that work are on hand. If traveling with the family, make sure they understand how limited you will be before the race. Once the plan is established, mentally review it as often as possible, but always be open to change it on the fly during the race. Understand what weather conditions dictate a change in nutrition, or how and when pace should be altered.
Race Planning is a long term process that begins with registration and ends with hitting the finish line. Many athletes have probably been planning their race without even realizing it! How many times have you visualized race day? Be smart and write down thoughts from day one, and simply make changes to the plan as the season progresses. Those who have taken the time to plan before hitting the start line will be the most prepared athletes on the course!
Good luck. Go get it!