I have no doubt that by now many of you have taken part in your first, or second, event of the year. Whether it is a triathlon, cycling event of running race, it is a time of the year when the fitness you have developed over the past months, gets put to the test in the racing situation.

The Early Race season, should be a time when you develop the fitness and skills necessary to perform in the big "A Races" planned for later on in the height of race season.

Your training should involve a combination of training and racing, with the racing being focused on your C and B events (these events are not high priority, and should be treated as trial runs for the big A race).

If you are a Triathlete, training for a Half Ironman, you might be taking part in a couple of sprint or Olympic Distance events. As a road runner training for marathon, a half marathon would be perfect, and a road cyclist in training for a 100 miler, a 100km event would be perfect.

These events are included in your program to not only assess your where your fitness is at in relation to other your ultimate goals, Sub 4 hour marathon, finishing the 100 miler or a 4H45 Half Ironman, but to give you the the perfect opportunity to practise and fine tune racing skills and strategies such as: hydration, nutrition, pacing and aspects that are required specifically to your sport, such as: riding in a peloton or transitioning from Swim to bike and bike to run.

After your B and C races, you should easily be able to identify thos areas of your fitness profile that require a little more attention. Perhaps it is your ability to sustain a consistant power output throughout the race, or your ability to run up hills is non-existant.

This feedback can be used to make modifications to your training sessions to correct these "performance limiters".

It is also very important that you are realistic about your early race season event selection.

Avoid taking part in races that are going to leave you tired for days after the event. Remember, the primary focus of your training and racing is to maximise your fitness for your A race. Any action, event or race that might impact your training for a few days (running a marathon in the midst of training for an Ironman), should be seen as non-beneficial and potentially dangerous to your training.

Taking 7 to 10 days to recover from a hard race, puts your training behind schedule, and can, in the long term, have an enormous impact on you realizing your ultimate goals.

Do not race to much and to hard, and select events that paralell your current levels of fitness and conditioning. This will allow you to get the greatest benefit from your "racing" and your training at the same time.

From a training stand point, you should be focusing on maximizing your outputs (Power, Speed), for the Competition phase of the season.

Special attention should be given to further developing your:
  • Anaerobic Threshold using Threshold intervals
  • Maximize your ability to generate Power using, for example, hill repeats
  • Speed work
A good rule of thumb is to follow a hard training session with a session that is not as intesnse, thus allowing a window of recovery for the body and your mind.

Recovery is a vital component of your training and close attention should be gien to your recovery to ensure you are recovering optiamally between training sessions and races. Avoiding the dreaded overtraining and chronic fatigue so common to so many athletes, should always be a priorirty.

Every ounce of energy expended during training and racing should be seen as precious, and if you are not sure whether you are sufficintly recovered from a hard session, take a recovery day.

Recovery sessions should always be at a very low intensity, should almost no stress on the body (muscle tesnion), and should leave you feeling better than when you started the session.

Activities such as stretching, Yoga and easy spinning are perfect for a recovery session, and remember, a recovery day should be included at least once a week.

The magic of training takes place when you are recovering.

James Greenwood is a competitive tri and multisport athlete currently training for Ironman Canada 2009. A level 1 Triathlon Coach, he holds a post graduate degree in Exercise Science, and is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist through the NSCA. James is also currently the resident health and fitness programs expert at MyPypeline.com, and has starred in a number of multisport specific fitness videos.
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