If the purpose of “base” is to train you to train more later, then I like to think about using early season racing to race better later. While your peak fitness might not be here yet, early season events are the best training specificity for racing itself. Here are a few ways I like to prepare for and get the most out of these events.
Set expectations - while a win, a podium, or conquering a 200 mile course might be one of your “A” goals for later in the season, your expectations might look a little bit different for an early season race. Setting your goals based on where your current fitness is and what your current training looks like is a more productive strategy. For example, maybe your goal is to execute a strong race start to make a front group selection; or, maybe it’s to improve your pacing strategy to set you up for a strong finish.
Hydrate - when the temperatures start increasing your sweat rate will increase to cool your body. This will be even more drastic when you are working at a high effort during a race. To offset the higher sweat rate, drink more fluids per hour. Because you likely won’t be heat acclimated yet, you may also need to increase your salt intake - a convenient way to do this is to use a carbohydrate-electrolyte sports drink during the race. You can also pre-hydrate with an electrolyte beverage and/or salt your pre-race food.
Carb up - the event will probably be one of your hardest efforts so far this season, so you want to be fueled appropriately. Increase your daily carbohydrate intake during the week leading up to the event and race with the highest amount of carbohydrate per hour that you feel comfortable with at race pace (e.g. 60-90 grams of carbs per hour).
Train through - if your goal is to focus on performance later in the season, you may choose to train through some of the early season events. Reasons for doing this include: not compromising your training progression, getting in high quality race simulation and intensity, and developing fatigue resistance; both mental and physical.
Practice - Use these events to dial in a warm up that works for you, test equipment, pacing strategy, tactics, and your nutrition plan. Keep notes as to what worked and what didn’t, so by the time you get to your goal events you are ready to perform!
If you’re used to always racing under “ideal” race fitness or conditions, throwing some training races into your schedule at this time of the year might be good for you. Plus, it will change up the stimulus and get you even more excited for your “A” events down the road!
- Coach Namrita Brooke