WITH triathlon season underway and the Tour de Yorkshire just around the corner, we spoke to our some of our experienced athletes for their thoughts on how to get raceday ready when gearing up for a cycling or triathlon event.
Hopefully, their tips and tricks will help you to compile a comprehensive checklist for the big day and ensure you give your best performance possible.
CurraNZ ambassador, Halliday Cross (left) is an expat Brit living in Australia who underwent a massive fitness and health transformation in his 40s to go from a couch potato to a fiercely competitive amateur athlete in Ironman triathlons.
Now also a traithlon coach, Hal shares his advice on how to get your head in the game:
“Getting race ready is all about trusting the process (your training) and being in the moment for each discipline. Don’t get caught up with what other people are doing, what they’re wearing, the type of bike they are riding or their flashy new running shoes. It’s all about you and only you. Enjoy the race and don’t let fear or anxiety ruin it. Befriend the open water and remember to breathe often which will calm you.”
Hal rightly highlights the great importance of fuelling your body properly:
“Nutrition also plays a major part in having a successful race. Make sure you get the right number of calories in and that your hydration includes electrolytes. Practice your nutrition in training to prevent any GI issues and don’t try anything new on race day.”
Alice Tourell North (left) is an experienced strength and conditioning coach and elite age-group triathlete who has been a CurraNZ ambassador for three seasons. Here, she provides some essential training moves and tips on how to get yourself ready ahead of race day.
Three key exercises for bike-specific conditioning:
- Romanian Dead Lifts or Stiff Leg Deadlifts
The RDL is a great exercise for hamstring, glute and lower back strength. If you are in an aero position on the bike for a long time then you need to make sure these muscles are capable of producing force under fatigue.
The RDL works through the entire posterior chain and relies on you maintaining a neutral spine position throughout the lift.
Keep the chest up with shoulders pulled back and down and make sure you are hingeing from the hip (pushing the bum backwards). You should not be rolling your shoulders forward or collapsing through the spine and you should feel a stretch coming through the back of the leg.
An oldie but a goodie! Squats work on the same muscles that are used in cycling; they involve a triple flexion movement which uses the ankle, knee and hip joints, exactly the same as in cycling. Squats are also a great posterior chain exercise and provide a really simple way of getting some sports-specific strength into your training programme.
- Swiss Ball Plank
Maintaining an aero position on the bike takes a lot of core control and a swiss ball plank is a simple but effective way of improving your core capacity. Using a swiss ball requires the body to be "lifted" higher than a traditional plank engaging both the core, upper and lower back muscles that surround the spine. Improving the endurance capacity of these structural muscles will result in less back pain and fatigue, and a stronger core for cycling in longer events.
Alice’s Race-Ready Tips:
- Land-Based Warm Up Routine
Chances are in a triathlon race you will not have an opportunity to perform a swim warm-up before the race begins. Therefore, create a land-based routine that works best for you that includes a heart-rate raiser, muscle activation and mobility and then finally a "potentiation" exercise - getting you all fired up for racing!
For example, I go for a short jog to raise my heart rate, followed by some dynamic (moving) stretches for my shoulders, upper back, hips, glutes and hamstrings. I then finish my warm up with two sets of three explosive jumps to make sure my body is ready to go! To avoid pre-race fatigue, make sure your warm-up is low in volume with only a low number of sets and reps of each exercise.
- Race Plan
Give yourself enough time on race day morning to get to the venue, register and then get set up in transition.
Create your race plan based on things like your racking position - where is swim exit, bike out, bike in, run out in relation to where your bike is racked?
Are there any landmarks that will help you find your bike?
Go and take a look at the swim route - where do you want to place yourself especially if it is a mass start?
Do you want a straight line to the first buoy or do you want to avoid the fighting and start to one side of the pack?
It's also essential that you know the race format - how many laps for the swim, bike and run?
Getting to the race venue early enough to make all these decisions just means your race day will go a little more smoothly!
- Transition Kit Set Up
Practice your transitions! Decide before the race how you want your kit to be laid out and which order you need to put on things like sunglasses, helmet, bike shoes etc. Having a routine for T1 and T2 will save you time and will prevent you from getting flustered on race day. Never try something new on the race day itself and this includes things like new nutrition products, new shoes, new transition routines - make sure everything is tried and tested.
If you are looking to maximise the effect of these various exercises, taking CurraNZ in the weeks leading up to your race is a handy (and legal!) way to accelerate recovery of your muscles, which is key when undertaking strenuous training programmes.
In turn, this will help you to go harder in your training sessions, allowing you to make improvements on your race time.
To all of our ambassadors and customers taking part in competitions over the coming months, we wish you the best of luck.