Technology is a great racing tool and many athletes have breakthroughs pacing with GPS, power or heart rate. By utilizing regular lactic or field testing to establish quantifiable training and racing zones, coupled with observing and analyzing training metrics on a regular basis, an experienced coach is able to pinpoint targets that will assure you a strong result.

Given all these facts, using technology should be a no-brainer, right?
Before answering “yes,” consider that there have been some incredible historic performances prior to the innovation and proliferation of many of these technologies, tools which we now take for granted. Athletes are not machines. Numbers can create assumptions and limiters on what we think we are capable of achieving.
I have coached athletes racing Gran Fondo who have produced higher power output for 2+ hours than they have ever seen for 20 minutes in training. This was because they were focused on staying with the pack; keeping up by reading and reacting to group dynamics. Data targets assume there are no dynamics on a race course. An athlete may not fully discover his/her capabilities over different distances relative to their lactic threshold until they were fully unleashed on race day without limiters. A budding Ironman 70.3 athlete may discover talent for going long, relative to the rest of the field. This may not have been unearthed if the athlete was limited or pre-calibrated by zones or target outputs.    

So what do you do? Do you follow your numbers or do you race by feel, strategy and instinct? I would suggest at some point you should cover up your power meter and heartrate monitor, ignore pace and see what happens when you race purely with your mind and spirit. Assess the numbers after the race, not during. Take what you learn, marry it with what you observe and quantify to create a more holistic race strategy for your next “A” race.

Lance Watson, LifeSport head coach, has trained a number of Ironman, Olympic and age group champions over the last thiry years. He enjoys coaching athletes at all levels. Contact Lance at to tackle your first Ironman or to perform at a higher level.
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