The race season is underway and many of you may be getting ready for a half or full Ironman. If you haven’t already considered some “training races” in this preparation, it’s probably not be too late. Training races are an excellent learning tool and a way to gain fitness along your journey. Here are a few reasons why you should incorporate training races into your plan.
- Getting the bugs out. The first races of the year are always a little shocking. Tough swim starts, logistics of transitions, running after a race pace bike effort are just a few things that you will be reminded of at the beginning of the season. It’s good to go through this during a race that is not as important as your “A” races so that if mistakes are made you can correct them now.
- Gains in fitness. There is nothing like throwing in some competition to push your limits. Many people never try as hard in training as they do in a race. If this is your plan, make sure to have some recovery time to let this fitness take hold and be of use to you for your goal event.
- Have a plan. Know what the purpose of your specific training race is. Is it to gain fitness, practice nutrition, test equipment, or a few of these things? Will you taper for it, which may also be the purpose of the race (to test the taper) or will you train through it? Even though it’s just a training race it still needs to be part of your race season strategy.
- Communicating with your body. The whole concept of training is to get your body to do what you want it to do at a specific time. Training races are a way to tell your body what you expect from it and like many things, this may have to be repeated a few times before it sinks in. This is why your key bricks, interval workouts, and training races play such a key role in getting you ready.
- Test your equipment. A very common mistake is to try something new at a goal race which can end in a disaster. You should use some of your key training workouts for this but you can also use your training races. Race wheels, wetsuits, tri-suits, aero helmets, or even a new bike should never be tried for the first time at a goal event.
- Test your nutrition strategy. As mentioned above, you will generally push your limits during a race more so than in training. This may throw a curve into your nutrition intake. You may find you need more calories or liquid due to the added exertion. Best to find this out during a race that’s not as important to you as your main event. You should also pay attention to your recovery. You may want to tweak your nutrition here a bit as well if you find you are not recovering as you’d like to.
- Trying new things. Maybe you haven’t tried leaving your shoes clipped to your pedals before or if you have you haven’t done it in a crowd. Or maybe you want to try out a new pacing strategy. This list could go on and on and your training races are an optimal the time to figure these things out.
Use your training races as guinea pigs. They will build your confidence going in to your goal events which can translate in to a better performance just because you are prepared which will make you less anxious. They are a great way to get the competitive juices flowing, they are fun, and they will get you pumped for the rest of your season.