Failing to Plan is Planning to Fail
Planning for your “A” race is not like planning for any other race of the season. It is the race you have been looking toward and training for all year so naturally it is going to be more stressful. Coming up with a good race plan can help alleviate some of the stress and give you focus during the last few weeks before a big event. Below are few guidelines to help you put together a useful race plan and prepare for that “A” race.
Know the Course
Xterra is known for their epic courses that traverse all sorts of challenging terrain. Your job is to know the course. Don’t train for months for a race and then show up on race day with no knowledge of the course. What type of elevation gain, descents, and terrain will you encounter? If you’re not sure look for the gps profile, blog posts on the course and Youtube videos. For your plan break the course down into segments and write down how you plan to attack each section. Depending on your arrival date, decide if it is worth it to ride the entire course or just sections of it. Weigh the benefits of knowing the course with the disadvantage of fatigue. For Maui, if you don’t arrive until Thursday or Friday before the race, consider only riding the “lower bowl” sections instead of the entire course.
Mimic the Demands of Your Race
Practice your race in training with as close to race conditions as possible. If you’ve researched the course then you know if there is a lot of climbing or if it mainly tight single track or a combination of the two. Big climb events like the XTERRA World Champs requires different training and strengths than flat races with more single track. Think of it both from the perspective of physiological demands and technical demands. October can be an unpredictable month for many parts of the country so you might need to improvise with some indoor training, matching goal power outputs on the bike, or inclines on a treadmill. Also consider the environment you are traveling to and if you need to include some heat training into your regimen.
Plan you Gear Needs
Everyone knows not to try anything new on race day, and if not now you do! But what we often forget is to also make sure our race gear is ready to go especially if your “A” race is in a different climate than you live. The gear you plan to race with my NOT be the gear you typically wear for your training. Try on your wetsuit (not for Maui), throw your race wheels on for a ride, wear your race shoes without socks, break out that new speed suit, and adjust your new goggles before race morning!! If you build it into your training it will happen. If not, you’ll probably have some sort of unwelcome surprise race morning. Make sure to dial in your bike with new tires, bring a tire option for mud, service your bike before you travel and replace parts if needed in time to break them in. Create a gear list before you travel and a gear list for race morning, this will be one less thing to stress about.
Anticipate Weather Conditions
You need to know some of the historical data surrounding your “A” race and plan accordingly.I just read a great interview with Karsten Madsen where he said that the biggest impact on his nutritional plan is the climate. The heat and humidity definitely will impact what gear you wear, how much you drink and the types of foods you eat. We have many of our athletes do a heat protocol two weeks before the XTERRA World Championships because of the the extreme heat and humidity. If you were in Maui a few years ago and endured that mud you also know to throw in a pair of mud tires in hopes that you don’t have to use them.
Build your Nutrition Plan Around the Course
Write out a nutrition and pacing plan for your goal race. General guidelines for caloric intake and fluid/electrolyte intake during a race is widely agreed upon however exactly what products you consume is highly individual. This is something that needs to be practiced during races and training leading up to your event. For XTERRA a nutrition plan needs to not only be built around intensity and duration, but also the course and aid stations. It’s not as simple as drinking one bottle of sports drink and taking one gel every hour. You need to figure out where on the course is open and smooth enough to drink and eat and where each aid station is. It means that your nutrition will NOT be as evenly spread out as a road triathlon. For this reason a well thought out nutrition plan is even more important in XTERRA. Whatever you do don’t fall behind on your nutrition. For more specific info on planning out your nutrtion plan http://middaughcoaching.com/nutrition-for-high-intensity-exercise/
Don’t panic if your race doesn’t pan out exactly as planned.
Know the course, race to your strengths, come up with a plan and rehearse it in training and your mind so that you are prepared for race day, but be ready for the unexpected. Just the process of coming up with your plan makes you to go over many different scenarios that could occur during the race. How will you respond to a big shore break, if your goggles come off, a flat tire or other mechanical, stuck in traffic on a climb, or an untimely crash? When something new is thrown at you on race day you will be much more equipped to handle it.