Race Fitness–Sharpening the Saw

In the world of human performance, people have goals that they seek after with dedicated passion.  Most commonly people are after a certain “time” or “place” goal and find a key race to try to make it happen. There are many bases that have to be covered before that race.  In most cases, athletes set out to learn whatever they can so they are training in best way possible.  Good workouts are designed to increase fitness as well as skill sets so that what you do race day is automatic.  However, it seems that to be able to achieve 100%, one must consider the aspect of race fitness.  Race fitness is the fine tuning that occurs and brings out the last 2-3% of possible race performance.  We all know that at some point, you will only put together a race effort on race day. And that is wise, since too much racing leads to overtraining. So how do you sharpen the saw without braking the blade?
1-2 races are all you need before your “a” race. 
These races can occur between 2-8 weeks out. 
If you are prepping to race over an hour, then keep tune up races to an hour or less. So you don’t need to run a marathon to prep for a marathon that would do more harm than good and sprint tri’s work just fine for any triathlon distance.
After the “practice race” make a list of what needs to be fixed.  This could be pre race ritual, pacing errors, tactics, equipment problems, clothing, nutrition, outlook.
Pay close attention the mental focus you had and look at where you may need to sharpen it.
Always spend plenty of time focusing on what you did well. Chances are that you really did 97% of it right and you want to not only feel good about it, but keep doing that part right! 97 out of 100 cats are already in the bag, right!
So, just a little bit of tuning up goes a really long way.  A 2-3% performance gain may not seem like a ton, but it may make a huge difference in whether or not you reach your goal.  It also helps prepare you emotionally to handle the stress and mental sharpness required when the going gets rough and the body just wants to stop.  Race fitness will also help you decide how much you really want what you think you want.  If you come home from your “practice race” fired up, kicking yourself over the errors, and foaming at the mouth because you want to give it a better go next time, then it has served its purpose. You will show up to your “A” race much more with the nuances worked out and ready to give just that little bit more. 
Next Monday will be the Hawaii 70.3 race report. A story of the 97% that went just as planned (some great practical tips that worked like charmers) and can bring you a very long way, but how 2-3% of small errors can push you one slot out of your goal.   
It’s a good thing that there a lot of places to meditate by the ocean.

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