Your comfort and success come race day will be enhanced by incorporating race-specific training to mirror the terrain or conditions of your upcoming race. What you wear and the type of gear selection matter, but also you need to ensure your training routine also prepares you to deal with terrain specific challenges your might encounter. As we all know, don’t try new products, clothes or equipment for the first time on race day.
The benefits of pre-race planning are immense so there are no surprises on race day. How many times have you been in a race and even with all the various details on race websites with regards to elevation gains, heat, number of aid stations, etc., do you hear the comment: “I was not aware that the race had so many hills!”
Race-specific training can include many of the following:
- Heat Training/acclimating
- Hill Training
- Downhill running on trails
- Roads vs. trails (running and cycling)
- Training in the aerodynamic position for a triathlon versus
- in an upright position (so your back does not spasm)
- Learning how to walk fast in a multi-day running race or long run.
- Training without headphones where it’s not allowed in a race.
There are many more, but one that is often over-looked is training solo.
Of course, training with others is enjoyable, but if you’re competing in a long race, mental strength becomes extremely important. The benefits of training alone for some of the long-distance training will pay off come race day when you experience the “lows”. In many cases you will be alone without another athlete anywhere in close proximity.
Social training is fun, but in many cases athletes become “too” comfortable in having the security of another friend when training. When it’s race day and you are facing a “bonk”, a mechanical problem on the bike, blisters, etc. you know what happens? Yes, some athletes will “crack” mentally, and then end up on the DNF list. I have seen this so often as athletes get so comfortable talking through the early miles of a long race with friends to make the “miles go by quickly” and then late in the race they have no mental strength to get to the finish when they are on their own.
I don’t want to discount the fun of training with others, but if you prepare for your races with various race-specific training techniques, make sure you learn how to train alone to build your mental
strength to get through the “lows” on your own!
By Wayne Kurtz
Wayne Kurtz is founder of RaceTwitch.com and Endurance Racing Report, he has a lifelong passion for racing in various endurance sport races throughout the world. He is also the author of: ‘Beyond the Iron, a training guide for ultra-distance triathlons.’