If you want to race every week please stop reading right now. I don’t know about you, but I race to win, to perform, to come away with a sense of accomplishment bigger than a medal. Racing too often makes that almost impossible if you’re not a PRO.
What if I tell you, you can perform do better at races before even toeing the line? I want you to become a warrior, choose your battles wisely, bring the right equipment, and know your opponents. That’s my recipe to almost guarantee doing well at races, before, well… racing. No money needed, just a little planning, common sense and smart approach.
When picking your next race ask yourself this questions:
- Establish your Expectations: Why do you want to race? What is the priority of this race? Do you have time-specific goals? Do you want to place on your age-group? Is this a destination race you intent to double as a vacation? Give a clear purpose to every race. Establish specific goals and draft a journey.
- Time to prepare: A calendar is your best friend. Count back from the race’s date to today, how many weeks you have? Are they enough to prepare to finish the race? Are they enough to achieve your specific goals? Make a sensible decision if the race is too close and you are not ready , move on, choose another date, everything happens for a reason, you’ll get another chance if you stay consistent.
- Expenses/costs: Does this race requires traveling? Does it takes a long drive? Can you get there race morning? Do you need a hotel room? Do you have pets that need lodging/care? How expensive is the entry fee? Events these days are very expensive, especially multisport ones. Treat them as an investment, the least you should get in return is a great performance.
- Your strengths & weaknesses: Does this race fits me? This is not easy for the most of us, but its necessary if you want to perform. Be honest with yourself. Have you done good in this type of races in the past? Are you better prepared now? Think about why Usain Bolts races 100-200mts and not 400. There is a reason.
- Courses: Is this race hilly? Is the wind a big concern? Is it a technical course? This is more of an extension on my previous point, but there is a reason why Nairo Quintana races Grand Tours with steep climbs and not fast technical criteriums. Go figure.
- Field quality: How strong is my competition? (if you want to place) How deep is the prize money? How many qualification slots are available? Challenge is good, but give yourself the best chance to win something.
- Weather: Is this race hotter or colder than normal for me? Have I done good in similar conditions in the past? Can I acclimatize for it? It can be frustrating getting to a race and being surprise by adverse weather conditions. Make a research, read past race reports and evaluate if the conditions. As previously discussed HERE, hot or cold conditions will affect your training. Decide with your brain not with your heart.
After you’ve selected your next race:
- Train specifically for it: (specificity principle) One of the main training principles establishes that the training we do must be specific to the sport/event we intent to improve at. To accomplish this we need to, inspect the requirements of the event and then plan/design the workouts that stimulate that overcompensation. This includes focusing on the energy system mainly used in the event (aerobic/anaerobic) and also train the specific muscles fiber types (fast-twitch/slow-twitch) .They training we do should also replicate -to some degree- as many actions and factors as the sport competition will. Performing relevant metabolic, energetic and movement training will dictaminate how good we can transfer the gains -functionally- on race day.
- Equipment choices: Choose all your equipment specifically for the race. Clear or tinted goggles?, deep wheels or a disk?, road bike or TT? racing flats or cushioned shoes? Tire air pressure? Be prepared by all scenarios by having the correct equipment. Also I’m a fan of using all your best gear for races only, take advantage of the “placebo” effect when it counts the most, looking good and fast is a bonus.
With all of this being said, I reiterate that I race to win. I race to do good, to place well and to walk away with a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment, but this might not be your case, and that’s fine! Whatever your motivation is, please take a moment to review your goals and come up with a decision that puts you in the best race day scenario. Nobody races to come up last, it is what it is!