by Cherie Gruenfeld October 28, 2016 3 min read
Training for triathlons and marathons, whether it be Ironman or otherwise, requires a great deal of thought and effort into crafting a program and training schedule to adequately prepare yourself for race day.
For some people, this could be a strict gym schedule with a trainer, consisting of different phases of development that gradually builds up the difficulty level to prepare you for your big race of the season. Others opt for a combination of traditional training and a select circuit of training races in order to prepare them for their main event of the season.
Below, we have outlined some of the benefits and drawbacks of incorporating the training race strategy into your triathlon and marathon preparation efforts.
It is recognized that solely training in the gym is not a realistic marathon or triathlon experience. On race day, there is a different level of intensity in the air, participating alongside a group of competitors and new, unfamiliar course features that may affect your performance. These factors push your limits and make a tune-up race a good way to prepare yourself for the mental and physical stress that you experience during an actual race.
Participating in a training race helps you better gauge your progress and preparedness for your upcoming races. Your performance in the gym will likely be much different than your performance on the course due to the variety of factors that affect you during an actual race. These factors include the presence of your fellow competitors and the adrenaline experience with the excitement of the race. Completing a training race allows you to get a more accurate gauge of your strengths and areas for improvement in order to maximize your performance on race day.
Potential for Injury & Fatigue
Unfortunately, you have a higher likelihood of injury while you are pushing yourself in a race environment. If you have been following an aggressive training schedule, this race could push you over the edge and result in not being able to compete in your goal race. This is why some runners even advocate “deliberate undertraining.” Needless to say, if you have a nagging injury, or specific areas of weakness, it may be best to avoid the training race strategy and maintain a consistent training regime to strengthen these problem areas before your main race day.
Loss of Confidence
If you participate in a training race, and for some reason do not perform to your expected standards, this can serve as a huge blow to your confidence level, and hurt your mental outlook going into the rest of your training and your main race. If you decide to participate in a training race, be sure to go into it with the understanding that there are a variety of factors that can affect performance, and uncovering any weak areas in the training race will only propel you to be stronger and better prepared for your main race.
Whether you decide to incorporate training races into your strategy or not, we recommend consulting with a qualified fitness trainer to help you safely and effectively achieve your goals.
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by Dr. David Minkoff
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