by Harold Wilson
Six months ago you thought this week would never come. You set out a strategy and you executed the journey. Now your emotions are being flooded with anxiety, nervousness, confidence, and intrigue. It’s race week, and it’s time to showcase the previous months of discipline and determination.
Your preparation during the week of a race can vary greatly. Determining factors are distance of your race, importance of the race within your season, race environment, and where you are in your personal development or ability. For the purpose of this article I want to reach out to those early in their development of racing ironman-distance triathlon, and who are in the week of their “A” race for the year.
I see three common mistakes that these folks make during the week leading up to their races.
Too much of a good thing
There is no workout you can do the week of a race that will make you faster on race day. Over the years I’ve often heard folks talk about how they had to squeeze in that last long run or long bike. Unfortunately, you cannot cram for this test. The work is already done. Reflect on your training plan and trust your fitness. If you executed your training plan in the previous months, you need to believe that you are fit enough to race well. Doing too much volume the week of your race will only leave you tired and flat on race day. A good rule of thumb is to limit your weekly volume of race week to an evenly distributed 40% of your biggest week of training for this particular race. So if an athlete completes 20 hours in the big week of training, that athlete would only do 40% (8 hours) during the race week. Mixing in a touch of race pace intensity can be good to get the blood flowing, but be cautious in terms of volume.
Stay calm, cool, and collected
Most people -- me included -- can easily get worked up in the nervous tendencies of race week. The smallest hurdles can set you off, and the next thing you know you’ve just spent two days flipping out over the fact that you lost that one pair of running socks you like.
Avoid wasting that emotional energy. People who are successful at staying even-keeled during the race week have given me some advice. Find relaxing projects like reading a book, piecing a puzzle or getting extra sleep. Make lists and stay organized. Plan your travel early. Try to avoid people who require emotional energy.
I love talking race strategies with people. We spend a lot of time working with our coaches or training partners to devise this beautiful game plan for race day, but then as soon as the gun goes off, the strategy goes out the window. I’m definitely guilty of race plan deviation, but it’s important to understand that the people who race to their potential are usually the folks that execute well. A great strategy is nothing without execution. Try to avoid the chance to abandon your race plan, especially early in the race. Stick to your guns and race to your potential.
During the week of your “A” race, cut back your volume and avoid cramming in the last minute big training sessions. Stay calm and save your emotional energy for the race. Finally, once you’ve built the perfect strategy for your race, simply stick to it!
Harold is the Fitness Director at Impact Performance & Fitness and resides in Dallas, Texas. He has a B.S. in Kinesiology and is currently working towards his Doctorate in Physical Therapy. Coach Harold has credentials from USAT, USAC, NASM, NSCA, and several years’ experience coaching endurance athletes.