Executing a Training Race
Many competitive athletes will add training races to their schedule. These are also known as tune-up or B races because they serve the purpose of allowing the athlete a bit of race practice and experience to dial things in for their big A race. Hopefully they will act as a confidence booster as well.
Here are a few things to keep in mind for your tune up race.
Reign it in:
These races should be shorter and or slower than your A goal. If you want to race a marathon, try a half marathon at marathon race pace to get your legs and mind used to racing, but without putting the stress of a full 26.2 miles on your legs. If you’re aiming to crush a time trial, do a tune up race at 80% effort instead of all out. You want to replicate the effort, without going 100%.
Process not Outcome:
These races are not raced for the win or a PR. Since you’re not going for a finish result, it is important to pick other goals to get you through. Focus on something you know you need to execute for your A race. Maybe it’s even pacing or a negative split or keeping cadence up or making an attack…
Go Through the Motions:
Just because this isn’t an A race, doesn’t mean you need to take it less seriously. Lay out your clothes/ gear the night before. Set your alarms. Stretch. Basically do everything you expect to do come race day. By going through all the motions, you’ll know if you need to modify your plans at all.
Fuel to Win:
Practice races are a great way to test out race day nutrition. Test out your carb load, eat the same meal the night before, have the same amount of caffeine, lay out all your race day nutrition, eat the same pre race meal at the same time you will at A race day… Doing this will let you know how your body will respond to the fueling strategy. Nerves, timing, intensity will all make normal training nutrition feel differently on race day than training. You might need to switch things up or allow for more time to digest and use the restroom.
Don’t just do a tune up race to do one. Make it count by jotting down the details in your training journal. This way you are not relying on memory when it comes to the A race. By having a record of how things went in your practice race you can know what to reply or what to change.