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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Pacing for triathletes




Learn to try & do things as easily as possible in races at race required intensity – so often, especially at altitude, the way out of a hole in a race is not to push hard into the limitation, but to back off & then, once recovered, build into it again. In the short races, often athletes go out too fast, blow up & then push as hard as they can, in a sort of survival mode, to the finish, where they could have gone much faster overall if they had backed down, recovered (patiently) at a lower intensity & then, once recovered (heart rate, breathing), slowly built back into pace. This pace would be much higher than the “survival” pace & the overall result, though not as good as the one that a realistic pace from the start would have brought, will bring a better result than the hanging-on-for-dear-life after you’ve popped, would have brought. This is tactically & mentally also a much better idea as athletes that passed you now come back into your sights & you are more in control. You are doing the racing – the race is not doing you!

To this day, my best Olympic distance triathlon result was achieved in a race where I flatted & had an enforced rest for about 2 minutes as I repaired my flat. When I got back on the bike I was able to realize that the frantic pace out of T2 that I maintained (I was a really poor swimmer) was highly inefficient & put me in an anaerobic state which I just hung onto for the duration of the ride. The rides were typically characterized by a breathing rate & power output that showed a clear “decoupling” – where I was working too hard for the power I was producing.

I then normally, being a much more experienced runner, knew to back off out of T2 till I achieved steady state & then could race from there. Thereafter I was able to recognize that the swim & T1 had put me into a state of fatigue which would, if not readjusted, give me a slower bike time & run. I figured out that by getting into a more balanced rhythm & a perceived effort that felt somewhat easy initially, I was able to maintain better power throughout the ride & transition into a run that far better reflected my ability.

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