Hobart based Multisporter Jodie Willett, has just returned from overseas, racing the Perskindol Swiss Epic MTB Stage Race where she missed out on the overall win by a mere 33 seconds after 6 days of racing! She is now rested, recharged and ready to take on the Freycinet Challenge in a fortnight. Jodie has kindly written a Race Preparation blog, take a moment and have a read of Jodie’s wise words in the art of preparing to race. Enjoy your taper, see you in less than a fortnight.
RACE WEEK PREPARATION – DOS AND DON’TS! by Jodie Willett
So we’ve all been training consistently, logically increasing mileage and intensity while getting a full 8 uninterrupted hours of sleep per night. Right? That’s the ideal scenario for event training and also includes avoiding the nasty bugs which have swept the country this winter. However, if you’re like 90% of people, you don’t live in a fantasy universe where everything goes absolutely to plan. The sooner you can get your mind around this, and that you are not alone in this situation, the closer you are to having the best race you can, for the life you have.
The final week before the big event is where things can go very wrong. There’s a few common mistakes to avoid and I’ll take you through them.
- Squeezing in ‘last-chance’ training:
The 7 days before the event is not the time to atone for all the missed sessions due to work, family and ‘I don’t wannas’. Time and again evidence has shown the superior effect of the taper. This is a reduction of training volume of between 50 and 80% to enable to body to freshen up and perform at its peak. It’s important that you don’t completely neglect some hard efforts though. You need to keep the body primed for race intensity. While aerobic endurance tends to stick around for a while without training, the ability to work a near maximum intensity declines quite rapidly.
- Not being like a Boy Scout:
Hastily shoving everything into a bag the night before is going to ensure you forget some vital piece of kit. Look at the course, make a list of things you need at each station, and place them in a labelled bag or tub. Consider the most likely things that may go wrong and prepare for them. Being stranded out on the bike course without a spare tube is not cool. It’s important you have the necessary tools as well as the knowledge on how to use them. Mentally rehearse the event – you come off the run leg, into the kayak. Are you changing shoes or paddling in your runners? Will you need to take your hat off to put your PFD on? Visualise what needs to be done.
- Neglecting nutrition and hydration:
The Freycinet Challenge in an ultra-endurance event. You will need to eat and drink during the race to maintain your highest level of performance. YOU NEED TO PRACTICE with the foods you intend to use. I once thought Vegemite sandwiches would be great in a 4 hour event only to find out that under race intensity, I did not have the saliva to actually chew them. Aim for 60 – 90g of carbohydrate per hour. For people who have zero interest in nutrition, sports foods like gels and drinks are the easiest to use as they list the nutrition profile on the label. For an event of this length, I like to have some solid food as well so I’ll have some high energy bars broken into small pieces. Ensure the main source of calories comes from carbohydrates not fats though, or you could be seeing that bar again later. For ultra-endurance events the latest wisdom is to drink to thirst and ensure your drink and food has some sodium content. Low sodium levels due to sweating in conjunction with a large water intake can lead to a dangerous condition called hyponatremia. You can include salty snacks such as crackers as well.
For some of you this may be you A Goal – the main event your months of training have been working towards. I tend to have a more frequent race schedule and will be recovering from a 3 day adventure race leading in to Freycinet Challenge. My lead in will be quite similar though with a focus of keeping the body moving through all disciplines and eating a high quality ‘real food’ diet with lean protein. Carbohydrate loading still forms a part of preparation for an event like this. In the 36 hours before I’ll replace some of the protein and fat in my normal diet with extra serves of rice and pasta. Choosing low fibre foods will help me avoid feeling too full and bulky.
As you can see, there is a big focus on the nutrition side and I believe this is the biggest hurdle for most athletes to get right. The other hurdle is pacing. Your event will not be won in the first hour of the race but it can be lost. Going out too hard will hurt you twice as badly in the second half of the race. You will feel great on the start line. This will not last. Consider what pace you can reasonably hold for the whole day and stick to it, ignoring what your mates are doing.
Finally, remember to look around. You are about to race in one of the most pristine and incredible parts of the country. Take a moment to appreciate it, smile for the photographers and say ‘hello’ to the marshals. It makes for a better day and also helps you to relax into your race rhythm. Good luck!
To follow Jodie Willetts adventures visit: http://jodiewillett.blogspot.com.au/