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Triathlon Racing Principles
Posted by: Simon Ward
Posted on: Friday 12th September 2014


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Coach Simon Ward will be racing Ironman Wales on Sunday. While he'll have a whole host of 'coach-related' thoughts, plans and targets going into the race, he also has wider thoughts on approaching triathlon racing - particularly if, like him, your 'racing' is just one element of your life.

Here are his 'Triathlon racing principles' which may ring true with many of you.


Triathlon racing principles

This weekend I'm getting ready for my 10th WTC Ironman event.

I'm down in Tenby for Ironman Wales and I have to say that the location is spectacular.

Ironman always used to have a policy of taking a big event to a small town. My understanding is that this meant the whole town would get behind the event by closing roads, providing vocal support and in return they get an influx of ‘triathlon tourists' at a quiet time of year. In short, everyone is a winner. From an athlete perspective this certainly works because everyone you meet in Tenby asks if you are here for the race and they will either be doing the race, have friends or family racing involved with the race as volunteers or just spectating.

In contrast, races that are located in big cities such as Frankfurt or Zurich sometimes get lost among big city life.

It's a formula that seems to be working in Tenby and I'm looking forward to Sunday.

While triathlon provides me with a living, participating in events doesn't, so I have a different set of values. Of course, I'm competitive with myself and will always look for ways to improve my performance, but I can also see the big picture. I have some training and racing principles that I use to shape my actions and today I want to share a few of them with you and also how I'll be applying them in the context of this weekend's event.

  1. Treat every race as an adventure and enjoy the journey as much as the event. Make training and competing fun. I've had a fantastic 2014 not only with my training and racing but also watching events like the Tour de France come to Yorkshire. I currently feel fitter and healthier than I have ever done. In the small world of Ironman Triathlon I may not be top of the pile but as far as humans I am in the top 0.001% of fit, healthy people…and so for that matter are you if you are a triathlete
  2. Set challenging but realistic goals. Be absolutely clear on what you will realistically get at the end of each race in terms of result compared to preparation time, health etc. I may not get a Hawaii qualification at the end of this event but if all goes well I think I've moved on from Lanzarote
  3. Always have more than one success goal for each race - for me in Wales it's being in the top three in my AG for the swim, pacing the bike (which isn't easy with the short sharp climbs) and doing my run fitness justice in the marathon
  4. Pay attention to areas where you can get free time - T1, T2, kit, bike set up, nutrition strategy, mental strategy - My kit makes me as aero as possible. I'm using a power meter to manage my effort on the bike and I'm lighter than Lanzarote by about 2kg which means about 5s/km on the run..as long as I'm running. It also means being a bit faster on the hills on the bike
  5. When training & racing, think and act like a true pro - So I'm not racing for money but I just try to act professionally all the time during the race. For example I've been to many race briefings so there's not much new to hear…but there might be one thing that's crucial
  6. Plan your travel to the race realistically - I've been here for two days. Plenty of time to get over the long journey and much less stressful than a six hour drive on a Friday afternoon
  7. The perfect race and the perfect fitness hardly ever happen so deal with it - lets see what happens
  8. Get a life If you are an age group athlete your life doesn't depend on racing to pay the mortgage - see above and principle #1
  9. Prepare as if this is the only race that will ever matter - basically I wont be holding anything back for next week
  10. No complaining or whining. No one forced you to enter or race. Just be grateful that you are able to be here. Look around and soak up the energy - There are a lot of people I know who would love to be able to just run again and can't. We are all lucky so I'll try to remember that when my legs are hurting on that run. Chrissie used to dedicate 1km sections of her run to people who have inspired here. I have my own list. I might need it on Sunday. I'll also take some energy by high giving some of the spectators on the run. I haven't asked them to come out but they will and its worth acknowledging them.
  11. Be aware of the contribution of mental strength - This is a BIG ONE for me. The Chimp won't crack on the run so I'll have to be stronger than him
  12. Always be happy with a finish whatever the time - No finish is a bad finish. It could be my last ever Iron distance event. Who knows what might happen so I'm here to get every last ounce of enjoyment. Even if its painful I'd be much more miserable if I could never race again
  13. Aim to have helped at least one fellow athlete and thanked one volunteer at least once in the day - No matter how bad I feel on race day I can guarantee that there will be someone having a worse time than me, and if I see them I'll give them some words of encouragement. And I will be saying thank you to more than just one volunteer
  14. Take time at the end of each race to enjoy the "win". It's too easy to just move on to the next event - I have a whole winter to enjoy not just the accomplishment of not just this race but the whole of 2014
  15. Always rest well after races - four weeks to “Get out of shape” and go diving

So that's 15 principles that I'll carrying with me on race day. I suspect that you'll have your own so feel free to share them with me and all of the other readers.

Triathlon is a lifestyle which I'm lucky to have turned into living. The only way to maintain my passion is to approach everything with a balanced perspective and to have fun. I hope you can and do the same.

Stay healthy and have fun.

Supported by the following brands

Hawaii Sponsors Sketchers Impact CT FondriestLe Beau VeloAMP Vekta Velosport

Ironman Wales Coverage


Simon Ward About the Author

Simon Ward is the founder of TheTriathlonCoach.com, the most experienced group of coaches in the UK. You can contact him on 08700 418131, by e-mailing simon@TheTriathlonCoach.com or by visiting www.TheTriathlonCoach.com


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