Race tactics are made on the fly during a race. Race tactics can be discussed and scenarios thought out but during a race you must act and react constantly to a changing situation.
Preparative tactics are less elusive and can be organized, practiced and perfected during training.
Preparative tactics involve decisions and actions that you have control over. Preparative tactics include:
There are no excuses for making preparative tactical mistakes. Spending three hours inspecting the course the day before an event will take the snap out of your legs on race day -- and is a stupid tactical mistake.
Racing with no water or sports drink leads to dehydration and a sub-optimal performance -- and is a preparative tactical mistake.
Don't put yourself in the position of saying "I knew better than to _____." Perfect your preparative race tactics until they are second nature and become a prerace ritual.
Successfully repeating this prerace ritual gives you the confidence that you are perfectly prepared to race each time you toe the start line.
Lynda Wallenfels raced professionally as a cyclist garnering multiple championship titles. She currently specializes in coaching mountain bikers and Xterra triathletes and counts top 5 nationally ranked athletes among her current clientele. She is a certified coach through USA Cycling and USA Triathlon and can be reached at email@example.com.