How to race if you’re not totally prepared
Let’s be honest – we’ve all been there. Recently, it was at Ironman 70.3 Panama for me. Whether it’s due to illness, injury, work, or family, there are plenty of things in our day-to-day life that can get in the way of perfect preparation. In fact, I’d like to talk to anyone out there who’s been able to have the ultimate race prep that is uninterrupted and 100% awesome all day, everyday… give me your secrets! But for those of us humans, we are bound to find ourselves on the start line of some event at some point in our life not feeling fully prepared. Here are a few tips to still have a great race regardless of your preparation.
Be honest with yourself
Sometimes we need to keep it real with ourselves and accept that we are not as fit as we had hoped for. It is important that you crate a pacing strategy that is appropriate for your preparation. This usually means dialling things back a bit. The beauty of endurance sports is that they take a long time. If you start out conservatively, you will have plenty of time to pick up the pace later in the race depending on how you feel.
Find a purpose to racing beyond a personal best
Whenever I race, I want it to be the best race of my life. I want to push hard for a personal best that validates that I have worked harder and raced smarter than ever before. Unfortunately this does not happen at every race, but fortunately there are many other great reasons to race. Races can be stepping stones to that personal best. They can be learning experiences. They can be great motivators and even better humblers. Most importantly they are fun. It really helps to take time to write out your reasons for racing. It will give you the confidence and conviction to get the most of your race, enjoy the experience or maybe just get you on the start line in the first place.
Buy yourself something “fast”
Lack of preparation is often a direct result of having to work a lot. There are only so many hours in a day. When I first got into triathlon I was working full time in a vineyard and part time at a Go-Kart Track (yes, it was as awesome as you are imagining it to be). I didn’t have as much time as I wanted to train, but I did have a little extra money. I went out and bought a brand new aero helmet. My justification was that this speedy new helmet would more then make up for the lost training. Whether or not it was the aerodynamics of the helmet or resulting boost in confidence, I went out and had a great race!
Anchor your self
This is a technique that I learned from Jasper Blake. Find something that you do well and think about that when you start to worry about the race. For myself it is getting ugly on the run. Whenever a doubt or worry comes into my mind, I remind myself it does not matter because I am going to get ugly when it counts. Think about what you do well. It might be as simple as swimming, biking or running well. It might be knowledge or experience. Whatever it is, anchor yourself to that thought and keep coming back to it when you start to feel stressed or worried.
If all else fails, just remember this wise old saying: it is always better to be under-trained than over-trained.