Thursday, March 5, 2009

Training in Training Races

By Eric Kenney

It’s that time of year when we all start to race or think about it. For many of us some of these first races are non- priority races or “training races”. There are a few different ideas as to what a training race is and how it should be done. Some people think that it just means you don’t taper and “training through it” giving us a nice excuse for not doing well. In fact a training race is a prim opportunity to get great training, important experience and test our self’s in the exact environment that we are training to excel in the first place. Here are a few key points to consider and plan out when doing your early season race’s and race simulation workouts.

1. Its still a Race: A training race is NOT a time to waist 60$ (or what ever) in gas and entry fee to ride around in a circle with a bunch of other spandex clad freaks for the heck of it! It is an opportunity to really test your self, in the field and against your pears instead of your self. With this, aim for a specific, measurable goal. While this training race will not require a 3 week peeking phase you should take the few days before to make sure you are well rested and ready for a good effort, physically, mentally and with all your equipment working 100%! You have committed the money, time, energy, the sacrifice of getting up at, still dark out- thirty to meet at some random office park. Make it worth while!

2. Make a goal: If you have been working on your strength and all winter and are now ready to turn that strength into accelerating power than make a goal to do some number of BIG accelerations. Attack the short hill, jump on a break forming, or go for the half way prim. But commit to this goal. if your going to work on your jump then do that and just that. Spend your other time sitting in and riding smart. Make the sprinting efforts as strong as possible. Killing it on the front, riding in a break for x number of laps, going to the back then to the front, then back again will make your “training race workout” end fast.

Maybe just getting through the race will be hard enough. Then do that. Ride smart. Is holding your position in the pack hard for you? Make a goal to simply ride in the top 15 riders or so the entire race, I have done this my self. Focus on warming up well, if necessary, and watching the race play out. Identify when its go time and you must get across that gap and to the front group and when is a good time to sit in, fuel and relax.

Maybe your endurance is lacking. Do some extra mileage before (ideal) or after the race. If you go this way keep your effort in the race under the hood a bit. This should be a hard workout but we don’t want it to take us a week to recover! Be deceive. If your going to attack. Do it! See if it works and move to the next steep. Always have a reason for doing something. Always have a purpose.

3. Gain experience. Learn: A training race is a prime opportunity to learn. About your self, about your competition, your preparation, your fueling plan, your equipment, your warm up (or there lack of) if you ride well in the wind, on the hills or technical cornering sections? How did you feel afterwards. Like you just parted the seas? Or do you feel recovered after 15’ of hanging out with friends and teammates thinking “man I could have gone way harder?” The list goes on. Come the big race day you can’t afford to be caught off guard by something silly. A cross wind hitting your fancy new disc wheel, your new helmet not fitting right, etc… Gaining as much experience about your self, and how your body works in a race situation will have you better prepared come the big day. This may not have you breaking any records but when the going gets tough the prepared shine trough. Anyone can post a personal best in there ideal conditions on there ideal terrain. You want a personal best in any conditions, on any terrain, on any decided day.

Coaching is not only Eric’s full-time job, it’s his pride and joy. “I take it personally. I am also a competitive cyclist and I am as careful with my athletes as I am with myself.” He coaches athletes of all levels in cycling, mountain, biking, Cyclocross, triathlon and is again working with a RAAm team this year.

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