A few weeks before racing, you should reduce the amount of time and distance you are training at and concentrate on speed.
You can do this by doing shorter, more intense workouts. Races used as practice are also useful. Do some short cycling time
trials or running races, especially if you're having trouble motivating yourself to train - they can be fun and a good workout
at the same time. You should be doing some training in heart rate zones I and II to keep your endurance, but a good portion
of your training will be in heart rate zone IV.
The idea of peaking is that you have the endurance base necessary to finish the race, now is the time to work on performance.
Depending on the distance of the race, you need to take a few easy days or more to allow your body to be fully recovered and
refueled for the race. Everyone is different - some people need weeks of rest, others can train right up to the day of the
race and still perform well. A good sign of how rested you are is your morning heart rate. If it's higher than normal or your
legs feel heavy and sluggish, you probably should train lightly or not at all in order to be prepared for the race. A good
rule of thumb for longer distance races such as marathons or Ironman triathlons is to reduce your training time with two weeks
to go before the event to about 70%, and with one week to go reduce your training even further to about 30% of your normal
If you're racing every weekend, you really don't need to worry about adding much Intensity to your workouts during the Racing
season. Races can be your hard workout - train lightly to keep active and to keep your endurance between races. If you're
not racing much, you need to keep doing some hard workouts or race simulation to keep in race-shape.
As far as what to do during an actual race, experience is the best factor. Some helpful hints for a triathlon are listed below:
After the race evaluate your performance. Did you meet your goal, whether it was to run a certain time, place overall, or
just to finish? If you didn't, try not to be negative about it. Rather, ask yourself what can you do to improve next time
and then work at it. Remember to keep a healthy perspective about triathlon and how it fits into your overall life.
- Plan and pack what you are going to wear and use during the race the night before. Create a checklist to make sure
you haven't forgotten anything.
- Arrive early enough to the race site so you can scout out the transition area and course. You may want to even do
this the day before if it is a long race or you are unfamiliar with the area.
- Leave more time than you think you will need for setting up in the transition area, warming up, and waiting in line
for a port-a-john.
- Swim starts can be scary, especially if you are not used to swimming in the open water. Be prepared to get pushed,
shoved, kicked, and swam over if you want to keep up with the pack. If you feel nervous about the close body contact,
start off to the side or back.
- Have landmarks picked out so you can navigate your way over the course. Those big orange buoys that are easy to see
from shore can be difficult to see in choppy water. Try sighting tall buildings or towers so you can swim as straight
as line as possible.
- About 100 yards from shore, start thinking about how you are going to transition to the bike. Think about what order
you will put your clothes and shoes on and which way to exit the transition to start the bike leg. Remember to strap
your helmet on before you get on the bike!
- For the first mile or so on the bike, spin an easier gear. This is to get your legs used to going in circles instead
of up and down. Get aerodynamic as soon as possible.
- Concentrate on catching the person in front of you. After you pass them, start going after the next person ahead of
you. Avoid riding at along side someone at their speed - either pass or back off, as people have a tendency to group
up on the bike which can lead to packs forming.
- Make sure to drink plenty of fluids during the bike leg. If the swim was long, you are probably already somewhat dehydrated
at the beginning of the bike. The bike is the best place to build up your fluid reservoirs for the run ahead.
- Coming into the bike transition, practice the same mental technique as you did when you were finishing the swim. Think
about how you will transition to start the run - where to enter the transition with your bike, how to change shoes
and clothes, where to exit to start the run.
- Your legs will probably feel heavy and stiff when you start running. Try shortening up and quickening your stride
to turn your running muscles on.
- Again, remember to keep drinking fluids. Most people cramp up or slow down not because they run out of energy, but
because they become dehydrated.
- The run turns into a survival session for a lot of people, but try to keep moving and think positive thoughts.
- Finish strong.
This period follows the racing season and gives your body the time it needs to fully recover from the abuse it took from racing.
You shouldn't become a couch potato, or you have to start from ground zero next year. Do easy training. Take time to try other
sports. Lift weights to rebuild strength in muscles that you do not use swimming, biking, or running (e.g. your abdominals).
Don't worry about losing some fitness, but try to keep off any unnecessary pounds.
This is also the time to evaluate your plan. Did you meet your goals? Were they too high or too low? Start planning for next
year. If you were injured, look at your training log to find things you should avoid. (Did you do four days of running in
a row when you had only been used to doing two?)
After recovering, you are ready to start the whole cycle over again, beginning with creating a new plan for the next season.
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