Whether you hit your goals or not, these early races offer important insights to help you tweak the rest of your season and get the most out of your training.
As the post-race glow subsides, it’s important to conduct a post-race analysis to evaluate your race performance, and to determine what worked and what didn’t, where your strengths lie, and what limiters need tweaking.
After a race, we analyze a series of indicators, among them we include a quantitative and qualitative analysis of various factors including the pacing and fueling strategy, heart rate, power, placement in the field, and how the race felt. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but it hits the key elements you want to focus on.
Within a day or two of the race, write down your thoughts about the race and specific details about the experience. Even if you aren’t going to engage in the analysis right away, it’s a good idea to get these ideas committed to paper.I f you have a coach, share the report with her/him. This will aid in the analysis of the numbers.
The more days that get between you and the race, the easier it is to recreate history. You don’t want to do that. You want a realistic and honest assessment of how the day went so you can make solid decisions about your future training.
Consider the following items in your assessment:
Were you able to hit your pacing targets (based on HR, power or speed)? If not, why not? Did weather, fueling, or sickness play a role? Were your targets realistic based on your training leading into the race?
If you exceeded your targets, why do you think that was possible? What were the factors that led to your success?
Consider both internal and external influences.
For triathletes, consider how your pacing strategy from one segment may affect the next segment. For example, I often hear triathletes say something like this: “I had a good swim, and a great bike. But, my run was terrible.” Here’s the hard truth: You didn’t have a good swim and a great bike if your run was terrible. You had a bad race.
For marathon runners, we hear, “The first half of the race was great, but the wheels fell off the bus around mile XX, and I had to slow down.”
Be honest with yourself about why the race strategy missed the mark, so that you can put together a solid race the next time. This may be due to overshooting your effort too early in the race, a fueling issue, or something else specific to the day.
Was your fueling plan appropriate to the rigors of the day, e.g., too many or too little calories, too much or too little hydration?
Did you experience any GI problems?
If there were problems, how severe were they? Was it due to the calorie counts, the timing of the calories, hydration, electrolytes, something else?
The best way to ensure that there are no fueling mishaps on race day is to practice consistently in your training, preferably in conditions that are relatively similar to race day.
Extreme heat or cold can affect the amount of calories, electrolytes and hydration you need. Be prepared.
The Numbers: Heart Rate & Power
In addition to the qualitative assessment, you can use heart rate and power data (if available) to assess your performance. Were you able to maintain a consistent and appropriate heart rate and power profile throughout the race?
If you find it hard to elevate or maintain your heart rate, that could be telling you something about your pacing strategy or your nutrition strategy.
If you found it hard to keep