This weekend I will be “racing” the Rev3 Half Full (yes, the same one as Lance Armstrong) in Ellicot City, MD; however, I have sworn on my aerobars not to race it. How is this paradox possible? How can you enter a race and not race it? Doesn’t that defeat the point? The purpose of a race all depends on what you want to get out it.
There are many reasons to do a race, and as athletes we have to pick and choose which ones we want to focus on. If it is an “A” race then you may want to focus on beating your personal best, make the podium, or to qualify for a championship. However, not every race has to be nor should be an “A” race. If you race often, it is hard to have multiple A races simultaneously. Therefore, some races should be downgraded to “B” and “C” races. “B” races have goals like “I want to focus on getting a faster transition time” or “I want to practice perfect pacing on the bike” while “C” races usually focus on having fun or enjoying the scenery. Both types require little rest/taper or recovery, which is why they are beneficial. You can train through them and treat them as long workout days, which is why it is so important not to race it. If, in the middle of the race, you suddenly decide to go all out, you will interfere with the rest of your training because you will have to spend a few of your precious training days after resting instead of getting in more quality workouts.
Not racing a race is hard. It requires a lot of self discipline to maintain a certain heart rate or power and not get caught up in the heat of the race. Having been always told: “It is a race. RACE IT” I have to override my internal desire to beat the person in front of me and go all out no matter how hard it hurts.
To help me achieve my goals of a) not racing b) maintaining a set heart rate of 157 and C) having fun, I am employing several tools:
1) Be self centered: Instead of always looking our for who is in front of me or who is behind me, I am not going to focus on anyone else but myself. In my mind, I will be the only one on the course this weekend.
2) Use my Heart Rate monitor and Power Meter: I usually go off feel when I race instead of trying to hold a specific output, but since this is NOT a race, I am doing the exact opposite and going to use only my heart rate monitor and power meter to set my exertion. If I go over my set zones, then I am defeating the purpose of the workout and have to adjust no matter how many people pass me.
3) Enjoy the scenery: Every so often I am going to take a moment to thank the volunteers, which I normally do but will make and extra effort to do son, and maybe stop at an aid station “to smell the roses.” After all, races are supposed to be fun!