For many of us, this is the time of year when we either start racing or start to think about the upcoming races. It is important as we are getting into this racing season to “plan out the season”. What does this mean exactly??? Well of course, the training for the season has to be planned out. Even before the training plan can be devised, a race schedule must be chosen.
While making this race schedule, keep in mind that there are going to be a number of different levels of races according to importance.
- “A” races – those very important races that you want to taper fully for. Ideally, a full taper should only be used 2-3 times per year. A full taper means coming down from the training that you have done for a min of 10 days up to 3 weeks before a KEY race. The length of the race and the time of the season will dictate the length of the taper – the shorter the race, the shorter the taper and the earlier in the year that the race is, the shorter the taper can be. As you get into the longer races or later into the season, you’re the length of the taper will increase.
- “B” races – races which are important to you, but will not require a full taper but rather a few days up to a week of easy days before the race. For races which you want to be competitive in and want to put in a good performance, consider taking a few days (and up to a week) easy before the event to rest up.
- “C” races – the training races – used as part of your training – no taper just go and participate. These races are used as a great workout without much concern as to the outcome.
For many, it is hard to imagine a race being anything other than an “A” race. I can just hear it now – shouldn’t every race be important??? Well yes and no – every race is important but for different reasons. You have the races that are in themselves important (“A” races) -maybe it is your Ironman race for the year or a qualifier for World Championships. Then you have the races which are important because they are a gauge as to how your training is going (“B” races). You use these races to take inventory and decide how you need to adapt your training. Finally come the training races (“C” races). The sole purpose is to get in a great workout and what better arena than a race.
I often get asked, is it possible for you to go to a race if you don’t think you are going to win. Yes, of course it is. I always have a purpose when I go to a race. If it is one of my Ironman races then yes, I hope to race to my potential. (these are my “A” races) I might go to some races so that I can see how my training is going. This year my early season Half-Ironman races serve this purpose (“B” races). I will go and race hard but if the results aren’t wonderful, that is OK too because it will tell me what I need to do in my training to reach the next level. Finally, I have the training races – these can be anything from a local 10km to a bike race or a short distance triathlon. (“C” races) These races are considered my hard workout for the week.
So moral of the story is to not be afraid to go and race for the sake of racing, and all races cannot be “A” races. You must prioritize your races for the season. Keep in mind that even if a race isn’t an “A” race, it still serves a purpose in the grand scheme of things – getting you to the starting line of those “A” races in the best possible shape you can be in.