The importance of choosing races – why it matters.
As I sit in my tiny aeroplane seat tapping away at this keyboard, I just wanted to pass on my thoughts about why we select ‘A, B, and C’ races – and what this should actually mean as Age Group Triathletes. Obviously we want to go out and do every race known to humankind, however this is simply not possible. As age groupers we also don’t have the luxury of dedicated recovery with specialists, so we make do with air compression boots, compression socks, trigger point gadgets, rollers, protein, and good old fashioned sleep. What does this mean to us then? In essence, it forces us to pick one, maybe two races every year that we put all our efforts into. For example, lets say you want to do an Ironman with a view to Kona qualification. That IM becomes your ‘A’ race, and training for that is your priority. If you are successful, then Kona becomes your second ‘A’ race – and that is it! The cycle repeats itself.
If you adhere to this, it means that your body adapts to that particular style of training – in the case above, your ‘diesel’ engine is adapting, or to put it in other terms, your muscular, cardiovascular, endocrine, nervous and even digestive systems are getting used to long, sub-maximal efforts so you can sustain prolonged effort for 9+ hours. In order to hone these systems, and ensure we are seeing progress, we can often schedule in numerous ‘B’ races – ones we take quite seriously, but not at the expense of the bigger picture, hence limited taper and limited recovery time. For example, if you were racing an IM in late June, then a 70.3 race in early to mid-May would be perfect as a dry run for the big day. Similar environment, an ability to test your equipment and race strategy, and a great marker for how your training is going.
Finally, the ‘C’ races. In this context, lets think a sprint/Olympic distance race. Think of these as just another training day, and a great opportunity to test your equipment (and not even worry about your fuelling as it is a completely different requirement). These can be done on an opportunity basis, but shouldn’t be taken seriously – its another brick in the road you are traveling to your ‘A’ race. Completely different muscle groups are being used, a total changeup from most of your training, and your body isn’t prepared for intense races like these! Sure, you will get through it, but expecting a PB is very unrealistic. The other danger of a ‘C’ race is taking it too seriously and getting caught up in the hype. Remember to be gentle on yourself, and it is just another targeted training day and you’re building to something great!
So remember, whilst we would all love to race every single event, it really comes down to being wise in our planning and execution – at the end of the day, what race means the most to you!
See you out there.