TRAINING FOR RACE DAY

Triathlon Coach

Every training session and race day is a learning event for coaches and athletes alike. Here are a few key points that I have picked up over the last few weeks from watching and listening to the Davey Black crew.

POWER TARGETS

The targets that are set for you in training are quite specific and are met easily in interval style training. When you are set a target (swim, bike or run) for an extended period, or a race day target, then that target is for your instant reading when settled in and moving in a straight line. This set target should not be tracked using your average power as the average decreases for every corner or bend you take as well as any traffic congestion and exiting and reentering transition.

SPEED TARGETS

As with power targets, speed targets should also be used as instant feedback and not as an average. The difference with using speed, however, is that it is a lot more variable both on race day and in training intervals.

Speed targets can be affected by the incline or decline of a course, wind, heat, humidity, and road surface. If you have a set speed target, then that target is designed for a flat course in perfect conditions, so you need to be able to adjust slightly up or down accordingly. This is why it is important in training to know what your threshold and tempo paces feel like, so you can try to replicate those intensity feelings to adjust the speed correctly.

CADENCE

Cadence is a very unique parameter to each individual. The general rule of thumb is that for longer events or rides, you should aim for 80-90rpm, and for shorter events aim for 90+rpm. Given that it is such a unique thing, you need to find somewhere in that range that feels comfortable and is still efficient for you as an individual.

One rule that can be applied to every athlete on race day is that you will want to increase your cadence slightly for the last 1-2km as yo are coming back into transition to help fire up the leg muscles for the run leg.

LEFT – RIGHT BALANCE

With most power meters these days you will get a metric for your left leg compared to your right leg’s power output. This is called the Left/Right Balance. This is a metric that I would not advise to spend too much time looking at. It is ingrained in human biology that one side of our body is going to be stronger than the other side. Given this, there is always going to be a difference in the power put down by your left leg compared to your right leg. The differences can easily be anywhere up to 40:60, and there is no cause for concern. The only time you would need to address this metric is if there is pain, discomfort or injury being caused by a large difference. These differences can be addressed via strength and conditioning if they become a problem. In general though, correct pedal technique is enough to correct the balance to as even as your body will naturally allow. You can read more about pedal technique in a past blog here: PEDAL TECHNIQUE BLOG

TYRE CHANGING

If you are unfortunate enough to get a flat in a race, you need to decide early if you are going to change it, or just walk back to transition and have a pie. If you, like most of us, are just out there for a good time and not to pay the bills, then it is a good idea to have the gear required to change a tyre. It’s always better to have it and not use it than to not have it and want it.

Another thing you need to do is train for it! Get yourself an old broken wheel from a bike shop or off the side of the road and practice taking the tyre on and off. You will also need to practice using a mini pump, or CO2 canisters. Davey Black’s Melbourne Triathlon club will be running a maintenance night in September when we will go through all of this.

BIKE SET-UP

To ride comfortably and efficiently, you need your bike set up correctly to suit your body shape, flexibility and cycling experience. There are a lot of expensive ways to do this, and there are a lot of equally accurate and cheaper ways to do this. The one thing that counts the most in either option here is the experience of the person doing the set-up.

Davey Black’s Melbourne Triathlon club recommends the highly experience Just Pedal bike store in Fitzroy St, St Kilda. They have highly skilled and experienced bike set-up experts who have been involved in triathlon and cycling for well over 20 years.

HYDRATION

How much you should drink during a triathlon could be a whole blog series on it’s own, so let’s keep it very simple. In any race over 1hr in duration, you need to drink approx. 750ml, or one bottle, per hour. This is going to change based on your height, weight, sweat rate and the temperature of the day just to name a few variables. To gain the best result from your hydration strategy, it is ideal to include electrolytes in your hydration to aid with absorption into the body.

To get the highest return on your hydration strategy, you can use an individualised hydration product such as Infinit Nutrition that will tailor your hydration to suit your specific needs.

NUTRITION

What race day nutrition you should consume is also a big enough topic to fill a book on it’s own. Once again, I’ll keep it super simple. The golden equation is that at race pace, you should consume 1g of carbohydrates (CHO) per kg of your bodyweight per hour. So if you weigh 70kg, then you should be consuming 70g CHO/hr. If your stomach can handle more, then take on more. The biggest thing that you need to do as an athlete is to practice taking on this much nutrition. Focus first on practicing what foods are easy to eat and do not upset your stomach. It is also important to select a range of foods that you actually want to eat. At times it is hard to force yourself to eat during training or a race, so having something delicious makes it easier. Once you have selected your go-to foods, it is then time to increase the dosage until you are comfortable knowing you can eat your 1g CHO/kg/hr on the bike and the run without any discomfort.

Another nutrition rule is to only use what you have practiced with. If you are doing a longer event that has on-course nutrition, then look up what nutrition they are going to offer and start training with it. If you don’t like the options the race os offering, then plan on what you will take, and how you will carry it all.

If you wish to get a professional opinion on your daily or race day nutrition requirements, then you can contact Melissa Laity Nutrition in Melbourne or Christie Robson in Brisbane.

CARRYING NUTRITION

If you do choose to carry all of your nutrition into a race, then you you will need to have a plan. Obviously, the longer the race, then the more nutrition you are going to need. You can get after-markets parts for your bike such as bottle cages, bento boxes and nutrition bottles. You can also get accessories for yourself such as tri suits, tops and shorts with multiple pockets, fuel belts and hand bottles. There are also a few race day hacks that I will expand on in a future YouTube video. These include cutting and sticking bars or taping bars to your top tube, Killer Python wraps & toilet roll jelly bean dispensers just to name a few.

REST DAYS

You can read an excellent blog from Coach Nestor next week about the importance of rest days. But as all the coaches at Davey Black will tell you, do your hard days hard and your easy days easy. Make sure you rest on the days you should be resting or doing recovery sessions, and that will allow you to produce the quality you need in the hard sessions. Training isn’t all about pushing the body at the sessions. Daily tasks such as kids, work and relationships take a lot of energy and can produce a lot of stress. Make sure you are open and honest with your coach so that they can plan your training load around your life and not just around your ideal training schedule.

I’m sure there are a lot more questions out there so feel free to drop Coach Steve an email at steve@daveyblackfitness.com or message and ask all you triathlon questions you have.

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