Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Racing to train or training to race?

Planning my race calendar for this year it occurred to me that the longer I have raced and the more ‘into it’ I have become the more complicated my planning gets. 5 years ago I simply decided to race the national XC series and a few local races. Every race was a race, every ride was training. Simple. Now planning a race season is an art-form in itself. I travel further afield, canvass the opinion of my coach, my boyfriend and various riding buddies about where to go and when. Then on top of all that I now categorize races too!
There are still those which are races; full blown, seat of the pants, races. Try as hard as you can to get the best placing you can. Goes without saying really these are the main aim of the year. 

'Racing' with obligatory gurn
Then there are the training races; like a horrible turbo session, but on the trail and with competitors – and so infinitely better and easier. I’m usually tired from training during the week, I’m probably not going to win anything (and I have all the excuses as to why this is ok). The only aim of these is to get a good workout. Spend as much time as possible at threshold, in the conditions I’ll probably race properly in at some point.
Getting the effort out is easier when there are people around you
Lastly there are the races where I plan to train a particular thing; a new skill, or trying out a new eating regimen, piece of kit or pacing strategy. These tend to be low priority races to start and then as the season develops I decide I need to try something before I need to use it in anger  and so throw in a practice race to try it out.
Wrong bikes - but some skills still need practice!
Combine all this with planning the logistics of getting to races, where we’re going to stay and for how long* and suddenly you’re spending days just working on the plan.
Sometimes I pine for the days when we just threw the tent and bikes into the back of the car and headed down the A14, but then I remember how much fun it can be when you have put the effort in, and get it right. 

*Thanks to everyone who takes most of the headache of this away from me due to my lack of ability to remember what I need to do!

Monday, 25 February 2013

New stage

In 19 days time (perhaps less by the time most people read this) I will be embarking on a new adventure. I'm racing the ASBA Cape Epic with Collyn Ahart. This will involve a number of firsts for me:
  • my first stage race
  • my first race in a team
  • my first race in South Africa
  • my first visit to South Africa

I can't work out how I feel about it at the moment. I'm excited and nervous all at once. I've been asked what specific preparation I've been doing and the answer to that is not much. To train for multiple marathon races does not involve much more than training for one marathon and since that is my focus for the start of this year I've definitely been doing that.

I have also collecting experience from everyone I know who has done a stage race. Here are the best bits so far:

"On one side of the medical tent is the queue for rehydration drips and on the other side the queue for the bum doctor - you want to avoid both"

"Always take earplugs if you're staying in the camp"

"After a while it just become like posting food into your mouth"

" If you need laundry doing, or bikes fixing remember everyone is open to bribes"

" You will hate your partner at some point during the race, so try to remember this and move on"