Athlete Stories , Training Tips , Wildflower Add comments
By: Ben Greenfield
Welcome to the first episode of Wildflower Course Tips! Here's what you're going to get in this three-part series that will be released over the next three weeks:
Part 1: 7 Tips To Execute A Perfect Wildflower Race Week
Part 2: Critical Race Tips For The Wildflower Long Course
Part 3: Critical Race Tips For The Wildflower Olympic Distance
So let's jump right in (and be sure to check out the end of this article, where you'll learn how to get a free video entitled "6 Wildflower Race Day Domination Secrets").
7 Tips To Execute A Perfect Wildflower Race Week
Whether you're racing the Mountain Bike, the Olympic distance or the Long Course, there are specific steps you can take in the last days leading up to the race to ensure that your body is performing optimally. While the last 2 articles in this series will focus on race day tips, over the next few minutes, you're going to learn 7 essential training and nutrition tips for Wildflower race week.
#1: Eat Familiar Foods.
Your gut grows very accustomed and comfortable with the food that it experiences in your normal, day-to-day training. So if you're used to fresh foods, fruits, vegetables and home-cooking, and you show up to camp at Wildflower with beef jerky, canned foods, and energy bars, then your body is not going to perform ideally on race day - and you might also find yourself making one-to-many porta-potty stops. Instead, on your way into Wildflower, stop at a grocery store for fresh vegetables, fruits, potatoes, eggs, deli meat, whole grain wraps, and as many "real foods" as possible. Try to bring a big cooler and make as many "ice trips" as you need to the convenience store. If you need some help with Healthy Grocery Shopping tips on-the-go, then watch this video I made. And for heaven's sake, don't try to comprise breakfast, lunch and dinner of free and new supplements and bars that you find at the Tri-California expo. Save most of that for after the race.
#2: Stick To Your Plan.
There are many, many people exercising, swimming, biking and running at Lake San Antonio resort in the days leading up to the race. It's easy to feel like you're being lazy when you're staying off your feet and letting your body rest. Most good race tapers should only have you exercising at 40-60% of your typical training week's volume, so stick to that plan, and don't get caught up in the social pressure to go on "just one more" bike ride, run or dip in the lake. Remember: it's better to go into the race 10% undertrained than 1% overtrained!
#3: Focus On Intensity
When you actually do go out and shake up the legs to get them ready to race, inject several short bursts of energy at race-pace intensity, and always stop every workout before you are fatigued. For example, a typical race week workout day might consist of a morning bike ride of 20-30 minutes, with 4-6 short 60-90 second race pace efforts, followed by a quick 10 minute run with a middle section during which you pick up to race pace. In the afternoon, you might swim for 10-15 minutes, with a focus on form, and a few short efforts similar to the bike. You're not going to get any fitter during race week, so there's no need to go ride 25 miles on the course, or run more than just a few miles of the run course.
#4: Know The Course
You can make up lots of extra time on proper swim sighting, technical descents, twists, turns and gathering energy for hills, so if you have the opportunity then A) swim 400-800 meters out, then swim back in towards where you are going to be finishing the swim, looking for sighting markers on land that you can use to swim straight; B) drive the entire bike course, making mental notes of technical descents and significant hills (especially "Nasty Grade" about 42 miles into the Long Course bike!); C) study a map of the run course or if you have access to a mountain bike, bike the run course. You can print all course maps off the Tri-California website.
#5: Get Your Sleep
As you probably know, the body performs best on about 7-8 hours of sleep. Elements that can disrupt sleep include: hunger, cold, uncomfortable sleeping surface, light and noise. While these may seem unavoidable while "camping in the wilderness", they are actually all within your control. Here's how: 1) before bed, eat a snack that will stick to your ribs, like protein powder stirred into coconut milk with a handful of almonds, and for extra sleep aid, bring my 2 favorite sleeping helpers - magnesium and melatonin; 2) bring long sleeve pajamas, and if you want an extra recovery advantage, long sleeve compression top and compression tights; 3) pack an air mattress if you're sleeping in a tent; 4) pack a sleep mask; 5) bring ear plugs.
#6: Stay Hydrated & Salted
Wildflower gets cold at night, but hot during the day. Drink extra water, and try to get through the equivalent of a standard-sized water bottle every couple hours. In addition, unless you're ignoring the healthy grocery shopping tips from tip #1 and eating high-sodium canned or preserved foods, then salt your food and dissolve an electrolyte tablet in at least a few of your servings of water during the day. All these measures will make you less likely to cramp or become severely dehydrated on race day.
#7: Pick Up Your Bike
When you're cruising around the Wildflower campgrounds, it's very easy to pick up small pieces of sharp gravel or thorns that collect on your bicycle tire. The last thing you want is for one of these objects to eventually puncture the tire when you're several miles into the bike course on race day. When you're not on pavement, pick up your bike and carry it - or if you decide to keep the bike wheels down, then brush all the debris off the outside of your tires, and then check them again race morning to make sure there's no foreign invaders waiting to sabotage your race.
If you found this article helpful, then you must check out Wildflower on Facebook, where I will be releasing a video to Wildflower Facebook fans only, entitled "6 Wildflower Race Day Domination Secrets". The video will be released in just a few days, so make sure to get over to Wildflower on Facebook now!
About The Author: Ben Greenfield (pictured right) is a sports nutritionist and triathlon coach. Check out his helpful websites below, and look for Ben in the Athlete's Lounge at the expo from 2-3pm Thursday through Sunday!