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6 Tips for your first race back

Everyone is itching to get back on a start line, we all know it. Everyone wants to have their performance of the year on that first race back as well, needing to prove to themselves and to their peers that all the training they have done this year hasn’t been in vain. Well here is a reality check, not everyone will have a perfect race on their first race back. That’s why we have penned our 6 tips for you to maximise the chances of having the best race possible next time you toe the line.

1. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself

·Everyone is itching to get back on a start line and to get a result next to their name this year. Not many people have had the opportunity to race yet in 2020 so they are labelling their first race back as their A-race and setting lofty objectives and ambitions. Whilst this is a good thing to create extra motivation in training, it’s also a risky approach as it’s extremely rare that you can turn up at the first race of your season and smash it. For this reason, it might be a good idea to alleviate some of that pressure by focusing on the pleasure of being able to race, not everyone will get the opportunity to race this year, so make the most of it and try and enjoy it as much as you can.

2. Set some process goals

·An alternative to setting lofty goals for your result in your first race back is to set some process goals that you want to validate as proof of progress since last season. Since it’s unlikely that everything will go perfectly from the start to the finish, a useful approach could be to set 3-4 process goals that you can focus on. For example, this could be a negative split pacing plan, sticking to your hydration and nutrition plan, being efficient in transition if you’re a triathlete or anything that you feel would be proof that you have made some progress since the last time you raced. What you will probably find is that if you complete your process goals, a good result will most likely follow!

3. Have a race plan and a backup plan

·As we mentioned before, since it’s the first race back it’s probably a bit ambitious to hope that everything will go perfectly on race day. For this reason, having a backup plan will be a good approach. This can involve a revised nutrition plan, a revised pacing plan, a run/walk approach, breaking the race down into different increments – whatever you think would help you get to the finish if things don’t fall into place with your original plan.

4. Do a dress rehearsal in full race mode

·If like me you haven’t raced since last August, then there is a good chance you haven’t touched much of your race kit since then either! Doing a race rehearsal during a training session should help you ensure that all your race kit is still in good condition and build your confidence and a positive mind set before the first race back. If you’re a triathlete, doing a small super sprint triathlon at home might be a good idea to practice your transitions as well! Ps. If the kit doesn’t fit, it’s probably because you put it through the dryer by mistake and not because of all that chocolate you ate during confinement.

5. Adjust your taper

·Tapering is a key part of racing, it’s when you rest up and recover in order to feel fresh for the race. Depending on how you have trained this spring and this summer, you might have developed more deep-seated fatigue than usual as you didn’t get the opportunity to taper and recover for any other races. Factor this into your taper before your race, see how you feel 2 weeks out, 1 week out and a few days out, and be flexible with the amount of rest that you allow yourself in order to feel good for race day.

6. Enjoy it

This one is self explanatory really. Make the most of your race, enjoy the pre-race nerves, the pre-race poo(s), the start line, the race itself and of course the finish line. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself and just enjoy the experience to its fullest. Remember how lucky you are to get the opportunity to race and to do something that you enjoy, not everyone will get that chance this year!

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