THE PRE-RACE ENERGY DUMP - Saving the energy for when it counts
What's up all? Guy Petruzzelli here, excited and honored to be sharing some insight and experience with all of you. So, let's dive right in and get to this post. Today's post is about something we don't think of often but can make a big difference when it comes to racing well and having the energy we need, when it matters most.
For many of us, race day is an opportunity to connect with teammates, relatives, friends or loved ones who have come out to cheer us on, or to race as well. And it’s natural to want to connect with people, helps calm the nerves and keep us from over-thinking about the task at hand. However, there is a fine line of being polite and social and wasting precious energy and focus that needs to be put into your race, not in a conversation.
Let me know if this scenario sounds familiar - you get to the race site, maybe 90 min to 2 hours prior to the start, begin unloading your vehicle with intentions of getting set up, getting in a good warm up, hit the bathroom, get on your wet-suit and get to the start line for pre-race instructions with time to spare. You feel energized, excited, nervous, but happy with your game plan and ready to rock. Then suddenly, as you are walking to transition, you run into some people you know, exchange what you think will be small talk and suddenly, 45 min to an hour later, you are rushing to find a spot in transition in between a hundred other bikes, standing in line for the bathroom while frantically looking at your watch, and trying to squeeze in your wetsuit while running to the start line just before your wave goes off. And as you get out of the water, you wonder, why do I feel so tired? Why did I ditch my game plan? Where the hell is my bike?! After all time spent getting ready to put forth all your effort into the race, the hours of training, sacrifice, expenses, time away from family, it’s so easy to see it all unravel before in less than an hour before the event. I've seen it all too often, actually have had it happen to me, and I want to help you avoid it so that you can reap the benefits of all the hard work you've put in before race day.
Mutlisport, by definition, is a solo venture. Race day it’s you vs. well you. That's a topic for another post. But I think we can agree that our sport is an individual one. It’s natural for us to appreciate, even seek out opportunities to socialize. Whether its training groups, masters swim groups, tri teams, etc., its natural to want to connect with like-minded individuals whenever we can. But being too social is a really easy way to derail your race plan, and spend energy talking instead of getting ready to race. I'm not suggesting that you need to ignore people, but the clock moves pretty fast on race morning and it’s easy to miss critical details if you are too busy talking and not prepping.
Here are a few basic steps to help you avoid that energy dump and spend it where it matters.
1.Even before race day, it’s easy to get caught up in the pre-race expo the day before, packet pick up or race recon. Get what you need, and get out. More time on your legs isn't helping your cause. We've all forgotten to pack something before a race, but that doesn't mean you want to spend 2 hours trying to find Body Glide. So, plan what you need, and be beeline for it. Then get off your feet, eat and get to bed.
2. Get to the race site 90 minutes to 2 hours prior to the race. You don't want to get caught up parking farther away from the start than necessary, spending more energy on your body, not to mention the mental stress that comes with it. Notice how this roles with the day and night before - by getting to bed early, getting up early won't be a problem. You don't want to be foggy headed or needlessly distracted with parking issues on race day. Not to mention, the race site will not look the same on race morning as it did the day prior. The extra time on race day will help you navigate transition and check in without issue.
3. When you run into people that you know, be polite, say hello, but make it clear that you need to get situated. They will understand, and isn't that what the post-race party is for? That's when you can kick back and enjoy the company of friends and family. If you do have friends or family coming to spectate, let them know in advance that on race morning, you will have time to connect with them after the race. It’s important that you do this, because they've come out to support you, so don't let them feel slighted on race morning. So, keeping them in the loop is important.
4. The extra time in the morning will allow you to properly warm up, hit the bathroom and have time for any unexpected delays. You can't control bathroom lines, or check in lines, so stay above the fray by being there early and sticking to your game plan. If you have any pre-race rituals, you'll have time to get them in. Not to mention, get in a warm up!!! A huge reason we feel lousy when we are racing, is due to not properly warming up the body before the start. You can't go from zero to 100 without priming the engine. So, spend some of the extra time warming up, not too hard, but enough to get a sweat, then get in your wet suit. Don't let your body get stiff by standing around. Once you've gotten in a warm up and gotten your wet suit on, as you head to the swim start, make sure that you don't get caught up in a lengthy conversation with other nervous competitors. Some people find it easier to deal with their nerves by talking. It’s easy to get caught up in someone else's stress and anxiety in those moments, since you are about to tackle the exact same thing. You've done a great job keeping your energy together to this point, don't get sucked into the wave start chatter. Move around if you need to in order to avoid getting caught in that trap.
5. Have fun. When that gun goes off, know you are expending energy where you want to, where you've been planning to for months. Enjoy every moment of it.
Hope you guys have found this post helpful. Looking forward to sharing more insight soon.