Completing smaller races on the way to a big race can help with mental preparation. These races teach you how to push through the pain. While you may be more likely to give up or back off when you are doing a workout alone, tune-up races help to train your mind to endure.
Familiarity with racing also helps in eliminating anxiety, which can otherwise severely impede performance. Tune-up races serve as dress rehearsals for that goal race by exposing you to anything and everything that can go both right and wrong during competition. In knowing what to expect, anxiety can be dampened and performance improved.
Consider the many elements of race day that can go awry. Remember, practice makes perfect.
- Equipment malfunctions
- Nutritional blunders
- Strategic racing errors
- Hydration problems
- Issues with race numbers and timing chips
When you sit down to put together a race plan, look at the date of your goal race and work backwards. Avoid racing anytime within three weeks before the big race. If it's an Olympic-distance triathlon you're training for, sign up for a sprint triathlon about a month before your goal race.
If it's a half marathon you're training for, think about signing up for a 10-mile or 15K race about a month beforehand. Schedule a 10K and one or two 5Ks early on in your training routine to get your legs accustomed to speed.
The most important aspect of this process is to enjoy the racing. As you become more confident in the race environment, you'll surely see jumps in performance. Grab your training log and get some tune-up races on the calendar. Why put in all the miles without picking up a few extra race T-shirts along the way?
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