Sunday, 6 May 2012

My first Race Strategy

I realised today I have never had a strategy for the Thames Turbo Sprint races, despite tomorrow being the 10th one I've entered.

For the big races I'll have a list of things to take, a timetable, etc - no need to go to that extent here, but I should think about what I want to achieve.

The key with a race strategy is that a target time in of itself is not a strategy. I've gone into previous races with "I want to get below a certain time", but not with anything in my head about how to achieve that other than "be faster". Not even how I was going to try and be faster. Time is not a strategy - the good finishing time is the reward for delivering the strategy.

So, here is my lightweight my-first-race-strategy approach to tomorrow. Let's see if it pays off!

Before starting: Get properly warmed up. I'm cycling to the event, so that will be a good start, but then I'm 227th on the start line, so there's a minimum of 227 x10 seconds = 37 minutes and 50 seconds until I set off. That's plenty of time to end up very cold.
  • Keep warm clothes on until the last minute, don't stand around in tri-suit shivering.
  • 10 minutes before my start perform some warmups - squats, high-knee running, shoulder rotation.
  • In the queue visualise the swim start and first length - I lost form instantly last time and I think it cost me a considerable amount of time, let's not do that again. Think about the catch, strong powerful pull through to the end of the stroke, and a high controlled recovery - keeping long and relaxed.
  • Make sure watch is set to the right mode and ready to go.
  • Make sure bike shoes and run shoes are talcum-powdered.

The Swim: I haven't been focussed enough and planned my swim.
  • Keep form right from the start. Don't panic.
  • Put a good amount of effort in and focus on every stroke generating power.
  • Avoid dead spot that I have a tendency for (I'm definitely an overglider).
  • Wind up the power form length 4 - I've never tried to go fast in the swim, always to "get through it". This is a sprint, let's burn a match and try sprinting.
  • Don't faff about touching the end on the last length - get out quickly.

T1: My transitions are fairly good, so more of the same:
  • Brisk pace getting to my bike, get breathing under control.
  • Follow the visualised T1 routine - Race belt, Helmet, Glasses.
  • Brisk pace to the mount line, every second counts.

The Bike: My bike times are good compared to those around me so it's easy to get complacent. It's not that I don't put effort in, but I don't push it that extra mile. There's a 7-minute non-compete zone in-between the bike and run, so I can burn some more matches and have a few minutes to recover.
  • Start fast - don't idle down to the first turn, can definitely make time here.
  • Get breathing and rhythm settled on the 1.5km to first roundabout, be ready to push it on the way back.
  • Push hard from the roundabout, and focus on the far turn - it's only 10km.
  • After far turn, burn a match and really push for the village.
  • After village there's the smooth sewerage works road to come, last 1-2km, give it everything.

T2: Again, transitions normally good, so more of the same.
  • Use the 7-minute non-compete zone to gather breath and visualise T2 and run start.
  • Run over the timing mat, don't start after it.
  • Brisk pace out of T2.

The Run: My run is much better this year, but again lacks strategy.
  • Get a good high cadence start down to the park gate - don't worry about speed yet, feel my legs and settle in.
  • In the park focus on getting holding a good pace and cadence.
  • Take the most direct routes across to the turn, straight lines apex to apex.
  • Give a push from the corner down to the feed station.
  • Hold pace round the rest of the first lap.
  • Focus mentally on the final 1-1.5km.
  • Push again down to the feed station, and hold it across the trail section to the grassy bit.
  • Work to hold the pace across the grass.
  • As soon as I get to the path, empty the tanks and give it everything right to the final corner.
  • After the corner, sprint for the line.

Nutrition: Worked well last time - historically I've eaten too much but the last race felt good. Same again, please.
  • Porridge and a cup of tea before we leave.
  • Nothing else apart form sipping a carb drink before the race.
  • No need for food or drink during the race.
  • 90g Recovery XS with 450ml skimmed milk as soon as possible after finishing.

That's the strategy. I don't know if it's too much or too little to remember, I haven't tried this before.

Let's find out!

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