During the winter months, training usually turns to base miles, strength work, and correction of weaknesses. All of these are fairly mundane but essential elements of a year-round training plan. One of the more enjoyable things we also do this time of year is to think about our upcoming race season and start to lay out our roadmap to a successful campaign. Here are 4 tips you can use to plan your 2017 race schedule:
- Decide in advance if you are going to race or participate. If you are racing for overall victories, hoping to place well in your age group, or throw down a Boston or Kona qualifier, your approach to the race season should be different than if you simply want to participate in a number of events and have fun. Pushing your personal limits in a race is far more stressful than simply enjoying the day. For that reason, you shouldn’t race too often, especially at longer distances. Have a few “A” races scattered throughout your race season and plan the rest of your season around them. If you’re more interested in racing for fun, make sure you do just that. Plan events that appear interesting, don’t stress out about any of them, relax and enjoy nature.
- Come into your “A” races well rested. It makes no sense to show up with dead legs at a goal race. Use your schedule to plan a taper before each of those key races. Not every race requires a 2-3 week taper, but you should toe the line feeling like a thoroughbred ready to bust out of its stall. Back off on the volume in the days before a race but maintain intensity and schedule a few sharpening workouts. If you have to travel a significant distance to a key race, make plans to do so well in advance so that you can get some sleep before the race.
- Have a backup plan. If you are planning to use a race as an event qualifier, it can be helpful to schedule another potential qualifier 2-3 weeks later. You wake up on the morning of the first race with a GI bug or a migraine and you’re not able to race. Now you have a race in reserve. Or, you get half way into your first race, things are not going to plan, and it’s just not going to be your day. You can pull the plug on race #1 and turn it into a quality workout. You still have race #2 to qualify, and you can probably maintain your performance peak until then.
- Have a number of “B” races. If you’re participating for fun, all of your races can be “B” races. If you’re racing, use these races to practice particular skills, work on weaknesses, or have a quality workout. Don’t put too much mental stress on yourself. Relax and enjoy the race environment. If you’re in contention coming down the stretch, give it a go. If you’re not, you’ve had a great day and you gained something from the experience.