These tricks alone might not get you six Ironman championships but they will get you one step closer to racing like a pro. Here are six secret practices that Dave Scott has come to rely on for training and racing success.
1) An Adequate Warm-Up on Race Day
"You rarely do a workout with the vigor and intensity that you have when you start a race," says Dave Scott. Yet you give yourself time to warm up on training days. Whether you start a ride by catching up with your buddy, or you ease into your run with a slow jog, you're giving your body time to adjust.
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Without a proper warm-up, you end up producing higher levels of muscle acidity, your breathing rate elevates and that feeling of heaviness gets exacerbated quickly. Also, your blood wants to go directly to your core when you're cold, which results in poor circulation. Cold, heavy and out of breath is a rough way to start a race.
Be sure you warm up for 15 to 20 minutes, with seven to eight minutes spent in your aerobic zone. If you can't get in the water for a swim, go for a run or a ride—if you have access to your bike.
If you get in the water, don't just do freestyle; it's important to do backstroke in your warm-up—in both training and racing. Backstroke helps stretch out your rotator cuffs in all directions. Also do breast stroke with a wider kick, if you've run or ridden before your workout, to stretch out the muscles on your inner legs.
2) Quick Leg Speed
If your arms go faster, your legs will go faster too. Set the tempo with your arms: Get your legs moving in a race, by shortening the swing in your arms.
Keep your elbow flexion a little tighter (don't open more than 90 degrees). Get your arms rocking faster, by stopping at 45 degrees as you swing back: It's a shorter, faster movement.
Also, when your foot makes contact with the ground, think about reducing the amount of time it spends there. Literally think or say words like "touch," "lift" or "quick" to help. Part of that floating feeling that comes with running is getting your feet off the ground quickly.
Triathletes tend to get increasingly tense as the race progresses. Your upper traps and scapula can get tight on the bike, especially if the course if technical. And "if they [the traps and scapular] get tight on the bike," Scott says, "they will likely stay up on the run."
Bring your shoulders down during the run. Scott recommends minimizing the shrugging motion by running like a waiter. "Imagine that you're carrying two small cocktail trays with your palms up," Scott says. Your shoulders will drop when your palms are up.