Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Something From Karyn To Calm Those Pre-Race Jitters

UPDATE: I'm republishing this post from Sunday to make sure those of you with races coming up see it. It kinda got buried...

Karyn has numerous clients facing their season's first race this coming weekend. Some of us are racing Galena, others are doing Memphis. Below, I've posted her letter to all of us; it contains some great suggestions for pre-race preparation, race strategy and pacing, and staying motivated and positive.


From: Karyn Austin
Date: 5/15/2005 3:05:00 PM
Subject: RACE TIME!!!!!!

Well, you've worked your butts off all winter waiting for this, and it's HERE!!!!! It is very common to feel a bit nervous, fear of the unknown, etc. before your first race of the season. We just have to wait too darn long in this climate to race.

I want everyone to focus NOT on the workouts you didn't get done, the days you didn't feel good, I want you to focus on those "moments of brilliance." The days where it clicked. The day you felt STRONG, POWERFUL, and MENTALLY FOCUSED on fighting through the tough spots. You've all had them! Your fitness level is there, now it's up to each and every one of you to execute. How do we do this?

1. Know your gears! I've preached pace recognition all season. You've all blown up on certain days by going too hard too soon. Learn from this! Know your body, know your breathing, make sure you are pacing correctly so you can dig out that last gear on that last mile or so on the run.

2. For the swim, keep the focus more on economy! Remember those times in the pool where you tried too hard to go fast, burned a bunch of heartbeats up, and ended up being slower! Respect the medium you are dealing with and reduce DRAG! Stay long, stay fluid, don't fight the water. Listen to your breath, if it gets short, your stroke will get choppy.

3. On the bike, know the course. Drive it the day before the race, even if you have raced it before. Stay relaxed, do constant upper body checks, and again, listen to your breath! Belly breathing on the bike is key to maximizing your strength on the bike. Make sure you are keeping your cadence at a MINIMUM of 85, remember you have to run off the bike. Make sure and spin your legs out that last 1-2 minutes on the bike and mentally prepare to transition to the run.

4. Stay calm through your transitions. The harder you TRY to go fast, the more frustrated you'll get. Mentally go through your transitions this week, and then stay calm and execute. Just keep moving.

5. The first 1-2 miles on the run, shorten your stride and RELAX!!! Your breathing will sound out of control, do your best to get it to calm down after that first mile. You should be 2 and 2 breathing (2 steps in, 2 out). If you are 1 and 1 breathing on mile 1, it's going to be a LONG race! Again, you should know your gears by now, so keep it strong, and under control, and at the half way point, start slowly but surely increasing the pressure with each remaining mile. That last mile you will be FORCED to dig deep. Again, remember the track workouts you've done and those times you dug deep and ran a pace you did not believe you were capable of at the end of the workout.

6. Last but not least, despite ANY obstacles you may face mentally or physically that day, know that you did the BEST you could for that given day. That's all I ask! If the positive is that you didn't STOP running when you felt like crap, then that's huge! It may be that you stayed on course for your swim, paced the bike correctly, kept your game plan in tact. Whatever it is, be proud of your effort.

Make sure you have your nutrition/hydration plan down. For any race over 2 hours, you should be getting in at least one bottle of sports drink (diluted Gatorade is fine) and one gel. Figure out NOW how/when you'll get it in. (I usually do my gel at about mile 20 on the bike). You may want to bring an extra one on the run course. You may need it, you may not.

For those doing Memphis, it will be hot. Don't let the heat get to you mentally, it will be hot for EVERYONE! Start increasing your sodium intake on Saturday, and make sure you stay hydrated during the race.

BEST OF LUCK TO EVERYONE! When you cross that finish line and have some time to reflect (even though you may have some SERIOUS thought of a new hobby while on the run), you will KNOW why you are in this sport!

Enjoy your teammates, enjoy your race, and go get 'em!



mipper said...

sounds like a great coach you've got. good luck on the tri this weekend. can't wait to hear the report.

nancytoby said...

Thanks, very helpful! I just looked at the Galena tri page, looks like a very fun one! Good luck!!!!

tarheeltri said...

Focusing on the days of brilliance is what it's all about... that's what I visualize on race day. Great advice!

Phil said...

Hey Steve,
That's a great post! Between that and Head Doc's CD, I'll be ready for Saturday's race!

Vertical Man said...

Thanks for the comments and well-wishes. Is it considered cheating to write crib notes on the back of my hand? Best of luck to Phil on Saturday, too!

Wil said...

Good luck! I'll be coming back to read this in a few weeks again!

Your tri is going to rock, you've worked hard for it.