How to Choose the Right Race Strategy
The two adversaries in Endurance Racing are your competitors and the clock. Your racing tactics depend on which of these adversaries is more important in a specific race.
To beat other competitors of equal ability, you need to race smarter than them. To beat the clock, you simply need to race the fastest time possible, which is almost always accomplished with even pacing.
So, first decide what your objective is for a given race, and then select the tactics to meet that objective. Finally, during training, visualize yourself successfully using those tactics to achieve your objective.
For the most part, endurance racing, and specifically the sport of triathlon, requires a steady, consistent pace from start to finish. Endurance racing is a balance between energy conservation, expenditure and intake. With the exception of draft legal events, opponent strategy and tactics are largely not a consideration, whereas individual pacing is. There are, however, instances where tactics and strategy can help you defeat an opponent in a close race.
First, you should be in contention for an age group of overall placement. Never waste time attacking an athlete that is not in your category. Secondly, the opponent must be within your performance grasp. If your opponent is significantly ahead of you, opening up a gap, and you are topped out, then you will only waste time and energy attempting to attack. It is only ?game on? when you are closely matched and in competition with one another.
With a Sprint triathlon often taking one to two hours to complete, and Olympic-distance triathlons often lasting two to three and a half hours or more, triathletes have a warped sense of distance, you need to know how to pace the distance properly to ensure a great performance.
So those are things to think about when building your race strategy. I won’t give you all the answers, but I will make you aware of all the component you need to address in order to effectively build your race strategy.
Here’s data from the 2010 Ironman World Championships (Male Pro finishers):
Not surprising to see that that Chris McCormack, the overall male pro winner, was on average 3.5% slower than the fastest male pro finisher in each discipline (-5.74% swim, -3.25% bike, -1.51% run). The data seems to support three possible winning Ironman race strategies: 1.) disciplined pacing, 2.) be a fast marathon runner or 3.) a mix of disciplined pacing and fast marathon running.
Smart, disciplined pacing on the swim and bike (don’t try to be the fastest guy out front) will allow for an optimal run performance. Notice that the top 10 fastest swimmers and cyclist we’re, on average, about 3.6% percent slower than the eventual overall winning time while the top 10 fastest runners were, on average, within 2.3% of the overall winning time.
Nothing exhaustive in this data analysis but it clearly displays the importance of developing the ability to, and pacing for a fast Ironman marathon. Dropping your swim or bike pace by a few percentage points may pay off on the run.http://practicaltriathlon.wordpress.com/2011/02/27/smart-pacing-for-top-ironman-performance/
So here it is:
- Train for you’re A race of the year, if your important race is an Half Ironman, don’t spend too much time planning your Sprint race. Train for what is important.
- Once you are registered to that important race, do an initial route reconnaissance by map, you can input your race route on many site to find out if there is elevation gain important to consider which should affect you training plan. Then adjust that plan.
- Once you get a little closer to you race, around 1 month away, write down your race strategy on paper, this will aloud you to review, study and modify it as you go. Some subjects you need to include are:
- Tactics vs. competitors (take the name down and follow their performance of the previous years and present);
- Route (by map and if possible actually ride it and make notes);
- Where to Attacks;
- D-2 (2 days prior to the race food, training and rest plan);
- D-1 (1 day prior to the race food, training and rest plan);
- D day (Timing, food, warm-up, etc);
- Race: (Speed/Tempo or pace, Food & liquid intake, others such as sun screen, etc.)
- T2; and
- First food intake at the finishing line;
- Stretching / Mobility / Massage therapy etc.;
- Evening Meal; and
Know the rules, provincial national and international sanctioned races have rules that you most obliged by or you can get disqualified, something as simple as using an iPod, or the weight of your bike, etc. Know the rules in advance so you don’t have to do last min changes.
Divide the race in section, not just in discipline, but where you want to push, and where you want to take it easy. What zone you want to be in.
You strategy/plan should include feeding times, water, electrolyte, glucose, etc.
Once your plan is written, try it while training, some food might not work for you, some speed might be too taxing for you and you might need to be more conservative at some section. Finally adjust that plan in order to be at your best for your “A” race.
Finally there the 10 most common mistake in Endurance Racing:
2) Poor diet choices;
3) No Real plan for your race week;
4) Improper pre-race hydration;
5) Improper race-eve prep;
6) Poor swim strategy;
7) Mistake in transition;
8) Going out waaaay too fast on the bike;
9) Absolutely no run plan; and
10) No eating or drinking plan for the run.