I am coming off of my 16th race of the season. Each race was a new opportunity to learn something about racing and also about myself. In three races this year (including the last two) I have had less than par swim/bike combos but somehow put together good runs. Triathlon is so unique because in most sports when you feel off then you are off. In triathlon, you can feel so bad in certain disciplines and amazing in others all during the same 2 hour race. The thing that still blows my mind is when I feel great swimming/biking/ or running but I am going slow. I think this is what keeps me interested in multisport; I cannot figure out the secrets to mastering the complete triathlon!
Unfortunately, how the race starts usually sets the mood for the rest of the event. If I have a bad swim then I come into T1 frustrated, upset and confused on why I lost the group when I am training so well. Recently, I have started to channel past workouts when I am on the bike or run and trying to make up as much time as I can. In training, I never do 40km (riding) or 10km (running) hard, but I do do a lot of 8-20min hard efforts on the bike and 1200/1600m repeats on the track. I remember pretty much every hard training session I do and the watts/pace I am hitting. 40km/10km is a LONG time to “go hard”. While racing, when I see someone up the road I tell myself that I am just doing a 15min interval at this many watts. I am confident I can do it because I have done it in training multiple times.
The same goes for the run. In my last 2 races, I have seen a competitor 800m in front of me around mile 4. Instead of maintaining my 10km pace, I have been visualizing the last 800m effort I did the week before on the track at 5:10 pace and putting that effort in to make the pass. To be honest, 2 hours of racing is overwhelming. I have found when the mood gets low it is so beneficial to visualize past training experiences and use them to get back in the game.
It does not matter if you are a professional, master, athena, clydesdale, world champion, olympian, collegiate, or beginner. We all struggle at some point in racing and need to figure out how to personally get out of the slump mid race. For me it is visualizing my training and having the confidence in myself. I challenge everyone to figure out their own personal way of overcoming a bad start of a race and share with other athletes.
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