breaking away....

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Race Strategy

With races coming up soon, it is surprising how many people wing it in every race. They just throw themselves into the race without a plan and hope for the best. My favorite saying is fail to plan, plan to fail. I myself have had wardrobe malfunctions, trying to get a spandex bra top onto a wet body after the swim, not a good idea, when you are stuck in transition with both arms twisted and trapped in a top that has turned into a rope torniquet around your upper arms and head, it is funny to watch, but not so funny when it happens to you. A one piece tri suit when you need a bathroom stop and their are none on the bike course and no trees.....

Putting food on the bike you are happy to have because you are going to burn it off only to find out you can't digest it again, not tried, tested and true. I am in the middle of getting my athletes to ponder their race, many weeks out. This allows them to write a strategy, and test it over and over before their race. They can write their race report on the same page later as a reflection on whether it worked or whether it didn't. In this way they learn about themselves as a racer. All experiments need controls in order to test them.

We have heart rate tests to establish heart rate zones, this is helpful for setting a pace and using a heart rate during training and racing. It is a great control to use as it measures where you are at the time. Pace is less reliable as people try to hold the pace they want to average, this is hard as their is wind and terrain to consider, it is less likely to be successful as they may push too hard early on to hold their planned average pace, they should instead use perceived effort and plan to start easy and finish hard at the end, this allows them to reach that average speed without starting at it and trying to hold it all the way through.

I am going to write my race report for the upcoming Great White North 1/2 Triathlon, this is specific to myself as I have certain things that come up in my race others may not.

2 days out from the race, I will be attending the pre-carb meal and enjoying the surroundings and the people, I will limit my food to those I consider good pre-race choices, I don't do dairy and wheat, not a good time to start.

Make sure I get good night sleep on the Friday as chances of getting good sleep the day before the race is tough, so try to sleep more the couple days out, so leave the pre-carb early.

Day before the race, make sure I stay well hydrated and take in more liquid carbs, not as much fibre, it is not your friend on race day. Try to eat a normal meal I would the night before, no surprises. No alcohol.

Go do the swim bike run rehearsal day before race to test my T1 and T2 bags to make sure all my gear is there and everything I need is in them for the race. Put my bike into transition in its easiest gear, we start by going up a steep hill out of T1 so I don't want to fall over or bind my chain at the beginning of the race.

Try to get some sleep the night before, wake up for 4:00 a.m. eat 2 eggs, 1 tomatoe and 2 rice cakes with peanut butter and honey. Plan for 100 calories of easy to digest snacks every half hour before the race. Get to Stoney Plain early to get on shuttle.

I use a checklist to make sure I get everything I need I put my own stuff on their as well, for me I need my puffer so that I can treat asthma on the bike and before the swim. Those things should be in red so you don't forget them. Also your race chip, no chip, no time, no sense racing.

After I get to my bike on race day, load my water bottles, I will have a front load in front, my tool kit on the back with two water bottles. My gels will be taped to my top tube, I am packing 200 - 250 calories per hour on the bike, I will have 2 electrolyte tabs per hour for the race which is plenty as I am not a big sweater, but it allows me to offer some up on the course. My shoes for my bike will have no socks in them, I will have my number belt, sunglasses and helmet on top of my aerobars. My towel will be colorful to tip me off to my bike. Shoes with heels facing me to be easy to get on, I will have a waterbottle at the towel to spray my feet and drink as much as I can before mounting the bike.

My T2 will have runners and socks (injinji toe socks - no between the toe blisters, filled with foot powder to help dry my feet and get on easier), spare gels and electrolyte tabs in a pouch I will carry.

My outfit is my bike shorts (I am a suck and like the padding, my tri top with back pouch, I will have my wetsuit on, latex hat and goggles, probably have the strap under my swim hat to prevent losing them in the water. Googles will be recently washed with shampoo to prevent fogging during the swim, rinse well so no irritation to the eyes during the swim. I will put body glide on my neck to avoid chaffing and around ankles to help the wet suit pop off so I don't get a massive calf cramp from the tugging.

Time to race start 30 minutes drink some fluid, go for the warm up swim, come back and have a gel and take my inhaler. Head to the swim start and seed myself in the middle just 3 - 4 deep from the front. Plan to wait for open water to enter, and get into my stroke, focus on my form and making sure I draft off the hip and not the feet. PLan to cross the hips to get to open water if needed. Warm up is to the first bouy so keep it slower until this point, after that allow myself to get into a rhythm. I will try to keep slower to avoid asthma although it hasn't helped before, I will be going slow.

On the last turn towards the finish of the swim flex the feet a few times to avoid cramping, mentally go through the steps to the T1, unzip wetsuit, remove swim cap and goggles, get to the landmarks to locate bike, stuff goggles and hat in wetsuit sleeve, push into T1 bag get shoes on first, number belt, sunglasses, helmet, clip it and go to mount line.

Keep bike easy out to the hiway, there is no place to race at this point, so take in some nutrition at this point and get ready to settle in on the highway.

Once on the bike I will keep an easier pace out to the East West Road, if there is a tail wind to start I will go easier than I normally would as the headwind on the way back will take some work, so save it for then. I will always be changing gears to get optimal cadence, for me 82 - 85. Keep nutrition on every 20 minute intervals and water every 10 minutes. One bottle of water per hour and 2 salt tabs per hour.

At turn around on bike you have a fair idea where everyone is, now is the time to stay steady and get ready for the fast east west road. If there is a headwind, keep cadence high and steady, if there is a tailwind, get into the big ring and enjoy the ride. On the bike into town I will spin it up to a higher gear to get my legs rested, standing now and then to get circulation into the legs. Once into T2, rack bike, change shoes and head for the toilet, get something to drink as soon as I leave the washroom and head out at an easy trot waiting for the legs to adapt, once I am comfortable, I will find a zone 2 pace to hold to the turn around on the run, at that point if the IT, the feet, the stomach are all okay I will be letting out some more energy to pick up the pace, at 7 km pick up again, at 5 km pick up again and last 2 is an all out fight to the end. My nutrition on the run will be gels which usually make me sick, so I may substitute this year, but will need to test for a replacement.

I will make sure if it is hot that I keep an easier pace to avoid heat stress. When I am done, walk it down to make sure I am fully cooled down before I stretch and go to the finish line to cheer.

My specifics are food choice, I do not do sugared electrolyte drinks I prefer to separate these so that water is water, electrolytes are independent of sugar and the sugar is an entity on its own. I can still drink and do electrolytes even is my stomach is unhappy, so I have done this enough to know it works for me. I have tried a rice, potatoe and tuna mix on the bike at Ironman which was really great for me, I may use this on Great White North.

If it is a cold race, I will wear my fully fingered winter running gloves, this allows me to shift gears and keep my fingers working in case of a flat tire. In a 19 degree day cloudy windy rainy day you can get numb fingers which would really set you back on your race if you got a flat.

Pace. I go by perceived effort, I am not great with breathing so need to stay more in a somewhat hard zone, not a hard zone or my shoulders go up to my ears as I fight to draw air into my little closing hole to my lungs. If I keep an easier pace I can run longer and more comfortably, I do not need to slow down either, so this has been what helps me race.

Hills are hard due to air as well, so holding a harder gear up hill may work better so I am not breathing as hard, it is harder on the muscles and knees though, so somewhere in between.

Below is a checklist for Triathlon if you haven't got one you can copy and customize this one.

Checklist for Triathlon

Bike Maintenance
0 chain, if more than 2500 km you could use a new chain
0 Tires if more than 3500 km or visible splits, weaknesses, you should get new tires
0 Inspection and tune up at bike shop
0 Does your computer need new batteries?
0 Do you want a front load profile design water bottle
0 Do you have a bento box, a small carrier for the top tube of your bike for nutrition
0 Do you have a toolkit for tire change?
0 Head lamp for early morning bike set up (LED lights are not expensive.)

Pre-Race Checklist
0 Swimsuit or tri-suit this can be your bike shorts and race top
0 Wetsuit – check it for damage that may need to be fixed
0 Goggles 2 pair, if one breaks race morning you won’t need paxil
0 Paxil an anti anxiety medication, only if you don’t have 2 pair of goggles
0 Body Glide

0 Bike
0 Bike Shoes
0 Tire pump for before race
0 Helmet
0 Sunglasses
0 Bike Shorts and Jersey or tri-suit
0 Body Glide for your ……
0 Water bottles
0 Nutrition
0 Electrolyte Tabs
0 Spare tubes and air cartridges
0 Sun Screen
0 Towel to dry off after swim
0 Socks for the bike shoes
0 Number belt for the run with number on

0 Running shoes, make sure you have run in them a lot
0 For the runner who blisters have you thought of Injinji toe socks?
0 Hat
0 Run shorts and top if different from bike outfit
0 Sun Screen
0 Nutrition
0 Electrolyte tabs
0 Ibuprofen for the run, only if you have tried it before and know you need it

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