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First Race Of The Season - Balancing It Out
 
By Staff
Date: 3/1/2007
First Race Of The Season - Balancing It Out
 

First Race Of The Season - Balancing It Out
Treat your first race of the year as another performance test. It won't be anything like the tests you do on your own, but the data it provides will be equally valuable...

by Jered Gruber
of FS Concepts

The time is nigh for the first races of the year, and if you're lucky enough to be in the far south, the racing has already started. The mentioning of that first race makes many nervous, as of course, this will be one of the first times your hard work over the winter is really put to the test. You've probably done some group rides and have a decent idea of where you're at, but that's still nothing like that first race of the season, which for everyone, is quite a shock to the system.

Instead of starting your first race of the year with that awful sense of trepidation and fear, and basically lack of enjoyment, try looking at the race from a different angle - a test, and an opportunity.

You've hopefully done a few performance tests over the winter - you've taken measurements to see where you are compared to where you've been in the past, where you were last year at this time. You've calculated it perhaps with a powermeter, or a certain time on a climb as a gauge, or a stretch of road. For those tests, you looked at only yourself and only took note of your own data.

Treat your first race of the year as another performance test. It won't be anything like the tests you do on your own, but the data it provides will be equally valuable - this time though, you'll be able to use how you feel and how you rode to gauge, but also how you measure up to your competition.

Many will say that the other riders don't matter, but I'm just going to go and flat out say that's wrong: if you want to win, you have to beat everybody else in the race, meaning, you have to be at least at the level of your competition, and hopefully, eventually, better.

The first race of the year will of course see differing fitness levels, but you won't know how differing until that first race, and once you've completed it, sit down, and think about where you were lacking. Did you suffer with repeated accelerations? Could you not make that necessary bridge? Was the hill on the course just too much?

After you look at that, you'll probably notice that, hey, I probably shouldn't be all that terribly great at these maximal efforts, because you probably haven't done any just yet!
More than likely, you've done a solid base with a lot of endurance work, built upon that with some tempo, and then built yet again upon that with threshold work, but super-threshold? Probably not. So if you felt like the really hard efforts were beyond you - worry not, some racing and some specific hard interval work will hopefully have you in the driver's seat in these vital situations.

Go into the first race relaxed and excited that you actually get to race and reap the rewards of your hard work over the off season. Treat the first race as another performance test, and do with it what you do with all of your tests - stand back, objectively look at what happened, and factor the experience in how it prepares you for the next step in working towards your goals.

Remember, the first race is the first step towards your goals so enjoy it and have fun out there!

Jered


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