Racing on back to back weekends
Back to back races are tough. They really test your abilities to physically and mentally recover. However, when done correctly, they are a great way to capitalize on your training and fitness. These are the tips and strategies I used to successfully race to two 4th place finish at Challenge Melbourne and Ironman 70.3 Geelong on back-to-back weekends.
Have a plan for immediate post-race recovery before the first race
Eating carbohydrates and protein immediately after your race is the best way to kick-start your recovery. I always pack two extra Powerbars in my transition bag just in case I can’t get my hands on a greasy post race burger. Have a plan for flushing your legs out as well. There are lots of great options for this including an easy spin or swim or taking advantage of a post race massage.
Recover physically throughout the week
Sleep as much as you can. I am a huge believer in using a foam roller for self massage and for a little extra good hurt on your hips, a lacrosse ball. I also recommend stretching everyday. I have heard mixed reviews on the effectiveness of ice baths but I like them. Your legs will feel great afterwards and you get a mental boost from enduring the pain. It’s a great way to get your daily dose of toughness when you are in recovery mode and can’t go smash a workout!
Write out what worked well and what you can improve on
It’s always good to review how your race went and find ways to get faster. You might not be physically as fresh for the second race but you can mentally and strategically execute better. Between Challenge Melbourne and Geelong 70.3, some of the things I noted and was able to improve upon were my nutrition strategy, my pacing expectations and transition times. Another great thing about back-to-back races is the red marks and blisters on your feet will be like a roadmap for where you should Vaseline your shoes!
Keep as much ready to go as possible
Between the two races I hardly touched my transition bag I kept everything as organized as I could to save stress and time leading up to the second race. I even did my entire ride inside on a Wahoo Kick’r trainer so that I wouldn’t have to worry about swapping race wheels and carbon pads.
Pass on the onion rings and 99-cent burritos for at least another week (yes this can be the toughest part). Normally I’ll just put whatever is in front of me into my mouth in the week after a race but for back-to-back events, I make every meal is a quality one. I eat plenty of salads and high quality carbohydrates and protein sources. I also supplemented my diet with Klean Athlete Antioxidant, Multi-Vitamin and Probiotic to make sure my energy levels and immune system were up.
Workouts = recovery
I never try to build any fitness the week after races. The focus of my workouts are recovery and sharpening. Resist the urge to be constantly evaluating yourself throughout the week. I have had situations where I have felt like garbage everyday between races but awesome come Sunday morning!
Take your day off on Wednesday
I am a huge believer in active recovery; it is great to keep things moving along. Plus, I always feel pumped after a race so why not roll with that feeling a bit! The first two days after Challenge Melbourne I did 2 short easy workouts around 20-45 minutes each day. Wednesday was the first day I took off of training. It also made a lot of sense given that this was the time of the week where you want to shift your focus to the second race. You’ll be thankful to have this midweek day off to catch up on things that you may have put off during the prerace hype and post race tiredness.
Bonus Tips for selecting good back-to-back races.
– Race a shorter race the first week.
– Choose races that are geographically close together to keep logistics easier.
– Choose races that you have done so you can save time on planning.
Check out Jeff’s thoughts on racing Ironman Melbourne: