With the Christmas New Year break pretty much all but forgotten for another year, the racing season is now back in full swing. At this time of the year there is an abundance of races you can choose from. Pick a weekend and somewhere close by there will be a race being held. It’s such a great time of the year to be a part of the sport of triathlon and cycling!
Yet chatting to a number of athletes, and I’m finding that many are deciding not to race at the moment. And after chatting further, it all came back to the same reason…
So if you are not racing at the moment, ask yourself – why ?
Are you coming off the back of a long course race at the end of last year and building back that strength, endurance and speed again? Or maybe you are recovering from an injury? Has the time off over the holiday period and that little extra Christmas pudding left you feeling slower and heavier, so you are waiting until you get the fitness and weight back in check? Do you not feel quite at your peak yet? Or not quite ready to test your training out in a race? Maybe you are waiting for the ‘right’ time. The right race. The right circumstances for you to be ready?
The common theme I’m finding as to why athletes don’t race is centred around believing they are not ready to race yet.
But who says you have to be ‘ready’ to race? And what does being ready even look like? Why can’t you just go out and race because you feel like it? To learn from it? To gain physical and mental strength from it?
If you have been in your base training but haven’t done your race specific prep yet, does it matter? You will finish and you will be fine AND you may just surprise yourself! Racing isn’t always about being ‘ready’. It’s about putting yourself out there. It’s about learning and discovering how to push yourself.
Every race doesn’t have to be raced for a PB. (as nice as a PB is!)
I’ll be racing a short course race this weekend – my first triathlon since having my little man 5 months ago. But I certainly haven’t trained specifically for it. I can count on one hand how many times I’ve been in the pool in the last 12 months. My running (aka jogging) is with a pram and on average once a week (if that), and my cycling is sporadic – and mostly on the trainer, but I’ve been strength training and walking. Loads. I’m definitely not ‘ready’ to race, but in my mind, I don’t know when I will be. And what does it matter anyway? I’m fit, and I’m healthy and I love training and I love racing. So why not race?
My old athlete self would never have toed a start line without being ‘ready’. I would not have even considered it. I remember conversations I’ve have with athletes a few years ago and they would ask if I was racing. If I wasn’t I’ll tell them – ‘no I’m not ready to race yet‘, ‘can’t you just race to enjoy it?’ I remember one athlete ask back. And I remember at the time that I quipped back ‘I’d rather not race at all….‘ Back then, I was all or nothing. If I hadn’t put everything into training, then I felt I wouldn’t be able to put everything into a race. And there was no way I was going into a race without being race ready.
How wrong my old self was!
If I could go back and advise my old self, I would tell the younger me that it is ok to race even if you aren’t 100% ready. As long as you give 100% of whatever you have on the day – then you are winning. And you will gain from it. You will learn from it. And you will be motivated from it. You don’t have to be ‘race ready’ to get the benefits from a race. It is often these races that athletes actually gain more from than the ones when they are ready.
Of course when you are fully prepared you get the results and the rewards, but it is the races when you come in without expectations, you learn how to mentally push yourself when your body physically doesn’t want you to. It is these races where you can surprise yourself, and when you will learn more about yourself.
There are plenty of goals you can have for a race. Even if you are underdone. You just have to be prepared to put yourself out there.
So go into a race underdone – but with a different goal. You may have been working tirelessly on your bike leg which has previously been your weakness, but that’s left your run underdone. So go in with the purpose of racing hard on the bike and letting the run be what it will be.
Your training may have fallen off the bandwagon as you search for a new goal, if so, then use the race to get that fire in the belly back.
You may be returning from injury and can’t run – enter as a team.
Every race you do you experience and learn from. So the more racing you do, the more you will learn. About how to race, what the body is capable of, how to read racing conditions, race tactics… the list is endless.
So stop putting off entering a race because you don’t feel ready. Enter and throw yourself into it. You won’t regret it!
Complete Per4mance Coaching is triathlon, cycling and running coaching for athletes seeking a performance edge. My coaching is born out of the desire and passion to not just coach but to educate athletes of all levels to help them achieve their optimal performance while maintaining a balanced, happy and healthy life.
Every athlete is individual, therefore I provide programs written and designed specifically based on each athletes goals, time commitment, training level and ‘life’ in general. Delivered through training peaks, each athlete receives a truly personal coaching service dedicated to improving YOUR results, while providing a pricing structure that helps allow every athlete receive the coaching that they deserve.
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