Training and Racing Tips

Wednesday, May 6 2015 11:30 AM

I participate in a variety of sports each of which requires training for that particular sport. When I was doing ultra-running, I was also racing short 5k’s and road triathlons. When I was training for Ironman, I was also racing off-road mountain bike triathlons. Currently, I am only participating in running races here and there but, training for Stand Up Paddle board race season and will have to train in swimming, mountain biking, and trail running for September’s Team USA cross-triathlon World Championship in Italy. That is a lot of training especially considering the lack of trails and hills in my area!

This leads me to the first tip on training for the race with terrain or course profile that you anticipate for your target race. Although it is optimal to train for hills if they are in a race or the climate change or what have you, it is not always a readily available option. There are ways to get creative to still do well in your race. I live below sea level. Zero hills. But, I finished 12th overall at a trail run world championship with killer hills in the middle of my cold winter in a tropical climate without leaving town to train. My solution? I “made” hills on the treadmill starting at 4% elevation at a faster pace and increasing every 2 minutes the elevation until I was at 12% grade with a slower speed for a 10 minute long uphill run.

This requires a lot of dedication because it is both tedious and painful but, it got the job done! I also have one bridge with some elevation so I ran hill repeats over that bridge, the longest of which was 15 miles worth. For the climate preparation I gained access to a sauna and did step ups, box jumps, and jumping jacks to get used to the heat. If you live in a windy area this can supplement somewhat the lack of elevation as far as working cardiovascular harder however, you still have to account for the different muscles that are recruited for hills. If you live in a city you have plenty of staircases to run up and down. SUP ocean racing is one of those exceptions that you may want to travel to an ocean to get the feel for all the technical skills that are required for not only entering through the breakers and trying to surf in but, the instability that the open ocean can have verses paddling in a flat body of water.

No matter what sport you are racing in, it can be beneficial to do strength training outside of your sport. Some more sport specific exercises are helpful (those that mimic a part of your sport) as well as weight or body weight training. As a personal trainer I have not only trained myself in my sport but, trained a wide variety of athletes in other sports and can confidently say that core work for everyone is crucial and not just a fad. It is indeed the powerhouse behind anything that you do. The core is basically everything but your arms, legs and neck/head. Not just your abs. I have seen males that stay away from the inner/outer thigh exercises and females who stay away from chest so make sure you are hitting all of those areas whether male or female. Functional movements will have more impact than isolation for racing purposes. Keep in mind your goal of performance while racing and do what works for you; not just following what the crowd is doing to avoid injuries. This will help you to not compete with yourself or others during your strength sessions.

Nutrition is another important factor for athletes. From nutrient timing to fueling as you race, to what you eat when not training. I studied nutrition for the endurance athlete after completing my nutritional consulting certification. Nutrition is not a one size fits all categories as some may think. You may try a way of eating that works for a fellow athlete only to find it wreaks havoc on your gastrointestinal system during a race. A solid piece of advice in this area is to always train with the nutrition supplements, food, or hydration you plan on using in a race. You can practice to see what gives you the most stabilizing energy while digesting well. Eating fad diets come and go. What was once low fat and popular may now be high protein and paleo. You can try various eating styles and see what works for you as long as you listen to what your body is telling you and not just jumping on the bandwagon. Go ahead, be a food rebel! Whatever type of diet works for you in the end, just make sure the basics are the underlying cornerstone. Check that it is natural and nutrient dense. Meaning that the majority is unprocessed and you are getting a high amount of natural vitamins and minerals from your diet.

If you are new to a sport and looking to get into racing the last practical tip I have is taking the time to find help perfecting technique. In most sports a few minor adjustments can have a big pay off on finishing times. In running it may be to remember to keep your shoulders relaxed so that you aren’t wasting energy in your upper body. In biking, it may be learning how to counter balance during a turn so that you don’t have to slow down as much. In SUP the angle and placement of your paddle in the water can make a huge difference. In triathlons learn how to be as quick as possible in transitions. Be excited about your new sport and see if you can hook up with some one more experienced to help or look for a coach or club for that sport.

For more information on any of my personal training, nutrition, coaching or life coaching services please visit: www.b4lfit.com

Content provided by Sports, Nutrition & Supplement Guide.

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