Monday, February 1, 2016

Getting Ready Early

by Dave Latourette

Now that we are well into April and some of the early races have begun, I wanted to share some experiences and approaches for early season racing I have used with success. Most recently I had a large group racing at Oceanside 70.3 and although everyone was 100% motivated and fitness looked good across the group, I always have apprehensions about how “race” fit athletes actually are. Then again, sometimes early season racing opens a window to what needs attention for the remainder of the year.

Early season racing can be an attractive deal but with the upside comes complications. The good part about early season races -- assuming one has taken a nice break at the end of the previous season -- is that motivation tends to be relatively good. The downside is that we don’t want to do so much for one early race that it derails later season races which likely have higher importance. So my deal with the crew for Oceanside was pretty simple:

  • We spent time doing what we normally did in December, January and the beginning of February, regardless of the fact that there is a race on the last day of March. This meant different things for different folks but essentially we established a foundation of training and muscular endurance that supported not only the race prep but it the rest of the season.

  • Some of the group did their normal half marathon or 10k late in January or early February and some of the group did a three day overload block that they usually do in the winter.

  • In the final six to eight weeks I added more structure to the long rides and some of the long runs, prescribed specific shorter workouts that addressed each athlete’s needs and what the race would demand, and finally inserted specific pacing sessions to make sure athletes had picture of what they might tolerate on race day for effort.

  • Then we raced with what we had in the bank.

One of the biggest concerns that I addressed with everyone was that they needed to make sure they raced the first few hours with our March 70.3 fitness, and not try to race with the memory of our peak 70.3 fitness from the previous summer. Then, if things were really good they could use their best judgement to build effort across the remainder of the race. Once the dust had settled on race day I realized there were some great races and more importantly we didn’t have any “poor” races. By any standard, and at worst case, we had a few average races, but by early season expectations those were actually darn good!

For early season races I think it’s important that you don’t sacrifice late season objectives to go a few minutes faster. In fact, I am finding that going into the early season races strong, with solid fitness, and a clear awareness of how to execute the race will more than get the job done!

Happy racing!

Dave Latourette is a full time triathlon coach living in Santa Rosa, California, who works with athletes from newcomer to elite. His top athletes have won USAT Age Group National Championships and raced in World Championship events that include the ITU World Championship and the Ironman World Championship. You can learn more about Dave and follow him at:, his blog, or on twitter @dklatourette
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