Contributed by Claire Warburton from Tri-Tech Coaching
What? A Race? What’s one of them?!?
Getting ready to race is one of the hottest topics right now. With the lack of racing, due to the pandemic, many of us will not have raced for quite some time. So do we remember what to do?!? How to taper, what kit is needed, how on earth do I set up transition, managing nerves and nutrition are just a few of the things to think about.
Here's what you need to know:
So as a general rule of thumb you need to reduce your training volume by around 20-25% during your taper and obviously the longer the race the longer the taper.
Sprint <7 days
Olympic 7-10 days
70.3 2 weeks
Iron distance – 3-4 weeks
So why do we taper? The most obvious reason is to freshen up and enable us to adapt to all of the training that has been done. Giving the body that chance to heal and recover enables us to push that bit harder during the race. Also nothing you do training wise in the last 10 days before a race will actually benefit you in the race. However, increased sleep and recovery will help.
How do I taper? The general consensus is to continue with your training frequency but reduce the volume. So if you normally train 8-10 hours per week then reduce the volume to 6-7.5 hours for the week. In terms of intensity it is fairly important to maintain this in your plan as you want to maintain that sharpness, despite a reduction in your volume. It is quite common to have interval sessions in the last few days leading into a race. This will maintain that sharpness but also allow the athlete to dispel any last minute doubts in their ability.
Why do I feel so twitchy? So all multisport athletes should be made to wear a T-Shirt with “Caution Tapering” as being irritable and unable to sit still seem to be a common side effect of the taper process. Obviously you will have extra energy with a reduced training volume. Focus on catching up with friends and family but ultimately, just go with it and enjoy the rest, its rare!
So most of us have the kit we need already, its just a matter of ensuring that it is in the race ready state. For any newbies to multisport there are many kit lists out there on the internet. Ultimately you need you, in your race kit, with your bike, trainers and bike shoes and your race nutrition. The list of things we ‘need’ could be endless. Multisport athletes are like magpies! Do not be put off by the very expensive bikes, wetsuits, sunglasses, helmets……. I could go on! Below is a basic list of things to think about when getting your kit ready.
Wetsuit – does it fit, have you tried it in open water, can you get it off quickly?
Trisuit – have you practiced in it, if not do so – you do not want chaffing in areas you didn’t consider on race day!
Bike – has it been serviced, is everything in working order, are your tyres pumped up?
Bike shoes / Trainers / Helmet – pack them in your bag as race day will not happen without them!
Nutrition – have you practiced your nutrition strategy? If not get out in the trisuit and make sure you do a full race day run through, including your race breakfast. More on this in a little while.
Transition set up
This is entirely individual. I always place a really bright towel down on the floor to help me identify where my place is. This isn’t always allowed! Set out your bike shoes / bike nutrition together then the run shoes and kit together. Have all shoes open (bike shoes attached to the bike if you are brave – although I would practice this first!). The way you set up transition will change and be refined the more you race so don’t waste too much time worrying about this.
Pre race nerves are normal, but also is being excited! The majority of us are racing ourselves. Read that again – we are racing ourselves! We have a set time in mind or a PB to beat. That is the same if you are at the top of your age group or bottom. The nerves we feel are 100% the expectations we place on ourselves. Now some people will thrive on these nerves and others let the nerves take over. Reframe these nerves into excitement. “I am excited to see how close I can get to sub 3 hours” rather than “If I do not get sub 3 hours all that training will be for nothing.” The nerves show you care so embrace them, feel them for what they are and use them to think positively!
This is a whole blog on its own. I will try to keep this as brief as possible. Never, ever, try something new on race day. That being said in the last half of an iron distance marathon – take all the carbs on offer! In the weeks and months leading up to your race practice a few times with the nutrition you aim to use during it. I usually do at least one full kit check and use a very similar nutrition strategy so I know this will work for me on race day. The amount of nutrition will obviously differ depending on the length of race and / or the amount of time it will take you to complete the race. The general rule is 60g+ of carbohydrate per hour is needed. The more carbs you consume the higher the likelihood of gastrointestinal distress you could encounter. This is if you haven’t trained your gut to ingest this much. This is why practicing your strategy is essential.
The other strand of nutrition is the food you consume in the days and weeks pre-race. The phrase carb loading only really applies to triathlons that last 90 minutes or more. For sprint distances you should be eating normally up to race day. In general if you are tapering you do not need to increase the volume of food you consume. However, increase the level of carbs to around 5-7g per kg of bodyweight, reduce the amount of fat and maintain around 1g of protein per kg of body weight. If you generally suffer with gastrointestinal distress reduce the amount of fibre intake for a few days pre-race.
I hope this has helped refreshed those brain cells and got you excited for race day!
Claire Warburton - Follow on Instagram @run_bike_run_mum
Tritech Performance & Nutrition Coaching. Hit the image below to find out more.
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