Back Half Strength
by Dave Latourette
Limiters or “limiting” can be scary words as they reference something we may not be good at. The reality is, if we want to improve, we have to face that fear of what we aren’t good at -- or simply need to improve at -- and find a way to change it. One area I find lacking in most of the athletes new to me or that I continue to work on with developing athletes is what I call “back half race strength.”
That may mean different things to different athletes; for most it means maintaining pace/power from the first half of the race over to the final half of the race (and even within each race discipline). This especially holds true over the last half of the run where it’s easy for a race to go wayward very quickly. While many of the other columnists here have addressed specific limiters within each swim, bike, or run discipline, I would like to address how we can work on our back half strength on a daily basis.
Though the back half of our races is obviously dictated by our fitness it can often be our mind, ego, toughness, or just reality that sabotages the end of those events. (Yes, nutrition plays an important role too, but we need to assume for this article that you have a good grasp of that.) The largest component of getting this right is being realistic and confident about our abilities so we can be tough at the end. Without racing frequently, how do we practice “getting it right?”
Much of this takes time, confidence and experience to learn. But do your best on a daily, weekly, and training cycle basis to give yourself a chance to be great at the end. If you are honest about your fitness and you can train back half pacing frequently, you’ll have the confidence to race it and not be affected by outside influences that might force you to do just the opposite.
Be strong at the end!
Dave Latourette is a full time triathlon coach living in Santa Rosa, California, who works with athletes from newcomer to elite. His top athletes have won USAT Age Group National Championships and raced in World Championship events that include the ITU World Championship and the Ironman World Championship. You can learn more about Dave and follow him at: TrainToEndure.com, his blog, or on twitter @dklatourette