Fast Isn't First
by Gordo Byrn
Consider these match ups:
Who’s the faster athlete?
Given the number of short and middle distance titles on the right-hand side of the list, I’d say the second athlete is the faster one.
Remember the list from my last article: explosive; energy constrained; race longer than longest training day; and not the fastest off-the-bike runner.
Actually, that’s the opposite of my previous list and, often, the characteristics of the faster (relative) athlete.
At the sharp end, it’s important to understand what’s required to have your best day. It’s also essential to understand the ways that you can beat yourself.
When preparing for a key race, I prepare for both the conditions and the competitors. Two examples:
Cali 70.3 - I was racing an Olympian (Chris Hauth) with superior horsepower. The only edge I had was my smaller relative size. Unfortunately, Chris knew this and turned up the “smallest” I’d ever seen him! My strategic play was to ride “too hard” through the climbs/rollers and fatigue my adversary. The plan worked great except I blew myself up rather than Chris!
NOLA 70.3 - With a cancelled swim, the race format shifted to bike/run with a TT start -- shortening the overall event. I find the prospect of drilling it for 90K to be highly unappealing but I knew that I would have to ride very fast to have a shot at my best day.
The solution was to make the race even shorter.
Open with five miles as fast as I can go then keep it over 300w for an hour.
I made a deal with myself that if I delivered then I could do whatever I wanted for the rest of the race. It may not have been the textbook strategy but it resulted in the best output given my psychology. I do much better chasing than leading so I started at the back of my age-group and chased the fast guys (and elite women) right to the finish line.
Interestingly, my main competition started at the beginning of the age-group as being the leader is highly motivating to him.
There’s no one way to have your best race. However, when you combine an understanding of your relative physiology with your personal psychology -- then you can place yourself in a better position to perform.
We all beat ourselves at times. When that happens, learn from the experience and make adjustments.
Chris, I’ve been swimming and running a lot. See you March 31, 2012 -- if not sooner.
Gordo is the founder of Endurance Corner. You can find his personal blog here.