BodyEditors’ pick

Lessons from my first year of Time Trial racing.

I’ve been racing bikes forever now, how hard could TT racing be?

Right? Wrong! Dead 100% last level wrong.
Welcome to the harsh reality of time trialing JL, welcome a-freakin’-board

They say ‘you learn more from losing than you do winning’, honestly, that couldn’t be truer! So here are the 2 key things I’ve learnt from a year or TT racing and what I think through in my pre-race routine of narrowly avoiding punching myself in the face while pulling on VeloToze!

#1 Start conservative — Don’t. Go. Out. Too. Hard

Ahhh the oldest rule in the book and probably the easiest one too. But bear with me and in case you’re a serial full gas from the gun type of human the theory goes a bit like this: Solid acceleration out of the blocks, settle below your race day power number, allow your body to adapt to the load and build into the full gas life before storming home.

Like I said, in theory → EASY. In reality → not so much!

I get it, I really do, it used to happen to me nearly every race. I’d be excited, want to crush it and balancing that pre-race adrenaline induced stomach churn with logic and rational thinking was like taking a knife to a gunfight.

But work on reigning the adrenaline in and learn to pull this one off and the pay off and gains you’ll see in terms of sustaining (and building) power for the entire race will be absurd.

The (my) rational here is our lungs take a few minutes to react to what our legs are doinh, especially when you’re doing all of the hard pedalling. Still not convinced? Go dig out your most recent effort or race data and look at how your heart-rate maps to your power output. Likely it will lag behind power output, increase to match it and then stabilise.

I find this approach gives my cardio system a chance to catch-up, to wake-up, to get into gear and help everything operate efficiently so I can stomp home.

It might take you a few races or race simulations to sort out what works or what is too conservative but once its down, you’ll be fire!

If you want to get super geek level get into Aerobic Decoupling and Efficiency Factor metrics which build off Power/HR data.

#2 Focus and Pacing

A conservative start that builds you into full flight is not much help if, once you get going, you go so hard that you enter catastrophic melt down mode with 3km to go.

Sound familiar? It’s cool though, we’ve all been there, so zero judgement! Much love.

Having the ability to focus in and actually execute a pacing strategy through each race is the crux of this one. Bear with me as we get a little more grown up for the next minute or so!

How does this one work? Well, I label it the avocado theory..

You’ve got one half that is all about trusting the process and the other half that is all about training, training, training and then you’ve got self awareness being that solid core in the middle that brings the whole thing together.

The first half: Trusting and believing in the process and in your ability. This is where its handy to have your coach keeping you grounded and focused on the task at hand. But coached or self coached do yourself a favour and read these two books Inside Sports Psychology and The Art of Mental Training they will give you the tools you need to implement this when you’re there on the start line and the starter is counting you down!

The second half: Time on the bike, training to your numbers, pushing the limits and knowing what works and what needs improving. Once you know your limits, naturally, you’ll know what you can push for, twenty minutes, half an hour, an hour … you get my point.

So get a pacing strategy going, work with the number range that gets you the best outcome for time, distance, course and conditions. Start a little conservative, build into that number range and then crush that back end and run to the line.

A good ‘start conservative / build through the mid section / crush the run home and empty the tank ’ strategy is worth its weight in gold. It means you’re able to break the race down into segments, knock them out as mini tasks and then throw everything into the finish and roar home.

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Thanks !

Thanks for sharing this, you are awesome !

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