Your big race is approaching. The key training sessions are done. To allow your fitness to shine through on race day, there are still some key considerations to maximize your performance. Consider these seven fine tuning strategies:
1. Lower Training Volume
Lowering training volume will definitely decrease fatigue. For major races, you should decrease training volume for 1-2 weeks prior to the race. In the final 10-14 days before a race, no further training improvements will be made before the event. You can lower volume in your endurance workouts without any fear of compromising performance. If you normally train for 12-15 hours per week, you might decrease training to around 5-7 hours in the week prior to an event.
2. Maintain Some Intensity
Maintain some training intensity leading into the race, but decrease the number of intervals and increase the amount of rest. Race pace efforts will prepare your body and mind for the challenge ahead, keep you loose and keep your body fine tuned.
3. Keep Your Training Schedule
The body is accustomed to specific frequencies of volume and intensity in training. Don’t disrupt your regular training pattern by adding extra workouts, deleting workouts and changing the time of day that certain workouts are performed. If you normally do 2 or 3 early morning swims per week, keep swimming early.
4. Plan Ahead
The extra free time you have before a race can be spent planning your equipment. Take the time to create a checklist of items you will need. Start packing these items and buying supplies (like PowerBars and Gatorade) well before you leave for the event. Get your bike to the shop early, you know what outfit you will race in, how you will carry your nutrition, etc. Don’t fill your rest days with extra tasks and busy work! Recover like a pro and plan some feet up time to stay relaxed and absorb your training. Read a book and watch a few movies.
5. If You Are Traveling…
Travel should be integrated into your training and race plan. Don’t do your biggest day of training prior to a long flight or drive. Take a rest day before and after a long trip that includes very light training. Plan to stay well hydrated (not to excess) and properly nourished when you travel, carrying bottled water and healthy snacks with you on your trip.It’s important to stay mobile when you travel. Take frequent rest stops to stretch or walk around to stay limber.
If possible, try to get your numbers and race package as soon as possible after arrival. You can calm nerves and focus on the race when you have this information.
6. Learn the Course
Pre-drive the race route. Ideally, you will do this at least two days before the actual event – don’t jam up your pre-race day. Take the time to study the terrain and think about your pacing and race strategy. Knowing the course is one of the keys to maximizing your performance in any race. If the race is a major goal for the season, you may wish to plan a scouting trip to the venue prior to the race. You could do this several weeks or even months ahead of the race.
7. Attitude of Gratitude
All the work and preparation are over, and it’s time to get out and enjoy your fitness. Remember how lucky you are to have a health body and to be taking part in the sport you love to do with a group of like-minded people. Decide to enjoy the day.
LifeSport head coach Lance Watson has coached a number of Ironman, Olympic and age-group Champions over the past 30 years. He enjoys coaching athletes of all levels.