Wednesday, October 28, 2015

3 Reasons To Race Short When Going Long

In my neck of the woods, off season is officially here as evidenced by my first indoor trainer ride last Sunday, boohoo.   Although if the reports are true, we could have a nice mild winter, which may actually mean some outdoor rides if we're lucky!  But we shall see.  For now I've come to terms with the fact that my basement Pain Cave will be put to good use once again this winter.  

This is also the time of year that I start thinking about and planning for 2016 races.  So far I've registered for three races:  The Robbie Burns 8km in late January, The Around the Bay Relay at the beginning of April and my "A" race of 2016, Mont Tremblant 70.3.  I would have registered for more but the 2016 race schedule for my favourite race series isn't out yet.  Just like the last 2 years, I plan on peppering my race schedule with several short course triathlons. 

I know so many triathletes that turn their nose up at short course racing because they don't feel it's beneficial when they're training for a half or full Ironman.  I don't understand that.  Racing is racing.   There are several benefits to adding some short course racing to your racing schedule.  Here are my top 3.

 1. Speed Work

Short course racing is essentially a speed workout.  It's like racing a 5km when you're training for a marathon.  These races are generally done at threshold pace while most of your long course training is done at aerobic pace, so you're utilizing two different systems.  Threshold pace work tends to get neglected when training for distance but if you want to improve at long course, then you should consider adding some short course racing into the mix.  Short course racing teaches you to move quickly, not only out on course but in transition as well.  Fast transitions equal free speed and who doesn't love a bit of free speed?

2.  Brain Training

I know that some people just don't like short course because you race hard and it takes people out of their comfort zones.  That is precisely why I like it.  You get comfortable with being uncomfortable both physically AND more importantly, mentally.  I find in short course racing, I have a laser sharp focus - all I think about is how I'm feeling and how I can keep pushing through.  You develop the mental skills to convince yourself to keep moving forward.  This sort of mental toughness is also important in long course racing.  If you can suffer through a hard 90 minute race, there is no reason you can't make it through a more moderately paced one. 

3.  Recovery Time

Because of the shorter distance of all the legs, the recovery time after a sprint is generally quite short. Most people are actually able to go back to training the next day.  I've had some of my best training days the day after a hard sprint race.  And, if you're looking to light it up on the course, a short two day "taper" (easy workouts) would leave you well rested enough for you to really go hard.

Do you do sprint races?  If so what do you like about them?

Tri Talk Tuesday is back next Tuesday and we're talking about indoor cycling!  

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