Sunday, September 29, 2013

PRP - Proper Race Planning - set yourself up right!

It’s getting to be that time of year to start thinking about your race schedule for next year!  Of course for my Ironman athletes this conversation takes place a year before their race because you typically have to sign up for your Ironman a year before the race.  It never fails I am always the bad guy (or girl in this case) telling them they have too many things on their schedule.  I begin cutting out racing or suggesting this one go or that one go.  They never like to hear it.  I have never been a fan of racing to race because your friends are doing it or whatever reason you may have. I pick key races that will help me build my performance for my A races.  This is not to say I have never fallen in the web of racing to race because others are doing a particular race.  In the end I have paid the price with a sub par performance in a race or poor recovery after a race.  As a coach and an experienced athlete I am telling you that filling your schedule with too many races and too much junk will lead to sub par performance.   As a coach I can’t force my athletes to cut back on races but I can guide them and give them my best advice. When they don’t listen to me I may think to myself, “I told you so” but I never express that because I know they will learn and I know I have made the same mistakes. 

I typically like to race one big race a year like an Ironman.  The year I decided not to do an Ironman, I chose to challenge myself with a 50 mile run.  I think trying to focus on great performance in an Ironman AND doing an Ultra event is too much in one year.  This is my opinion and not scientific but I have a lot of experience and this is the way I would do it. If you did want to do both an Ultra and Ironman in one year they should be separated as beginning of the year and end of the year because this gives you plenty of time between events.  This past year I made the mistake of doing two Ironman in one year separated by only a few months.  I had a great performance at my first one and not so great on the second.  I also suffered after the second Ironman with two back to back illnesses.  I typically recover great after a big race because I have been doing this a long time and my body has adjusted but two Ironman back to back was too much.  My body revolted and I learned a good lesson and that was to listen to my own advice. 
My Ironman In South Africa 
If you are an Ironman or Ultra athlete plan your year with one major event.  You can have several events leading up to your big event but don’t go crazy.  You don’t have to do a marathon leading up to your Ironman, you don’t have to do a century ride leading up to your Ironman.  If you have a coach they will plan your schedule with the appropriate mileage for you to complete your race.  Keeping your schedule reasonable will enable you to have a period of time to focus on improving specific weaknesses that you need to improve upon.  Give yourself time to work on things like improving specific areas of your training such as swim, bike or run.  You may also take some time to focus on strength training or flexibility.  These areas may be holding you back during your peak season because you don’t make time to improve your weakness. 

Last year I had a client (who I still coach but will remain nameless) who came to me with a crazy schedule of races.  This is a person who has a super busy work schedule and family schedule.  They had two Ironman listed within 2 months of each other, a 100 mile run, 2.4 mile swim, marathon, half marathon and a number of shorter races.  I knew this was a schedule that didn’t make sense for this person.  Maybe and I say maybe I would have been more open to it if they didn’t work, with no kids or wife and had time to only train and recover.  But knowing this persons schedule I was concerned with this race schedule.  I expressed my concern and we compromised on cutting out the 100 mile run which was much better however not ideal in my opinion.  As it turns out life for this person became even more complicated and one of the Ironman had to go.  A number of other events got dropped.  You may read this and think why would someone want to do all that however this is NOT uncommon.  I am always telling people they want to do too much.  Before you fill you schedule with unnecessary events really think about your schedule and your life and if the events you are doing are going to help you get to your ultimate goal.

I recently decided to go to massage school, which will take me 7 months. I will be working and going to school. Knowing how limited my time will be with a full schedule I have opted NOT to race at all during those 7 months.  It will be strange not doing any early season races but why would I put that pressure on myself and set myself up for failure.  Filling your schedule too full adds stress in your life and possibly a decrease in your performance. 

All My Ironman Medals
When signing up for races for the following year think about what will be going on in your personal life and professional life.  Be strategic in planning your races and this will lead to a successful racing season.
Tigger with my World Championship medal


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