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!

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