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Ask the Coach - What about the Win?

I got a post from Ty on facebook asking if I had any tips on winning your age group.
As endurance sports are growing in popularity, it is also means greater competition, right? So if you are the competitive type and want to win, what do you need to do? As a coach, I recommend to most age group athletes that they simply compete against themselves and measure their own personal improvements. But as we get more experienced and see our race times improve, you may very well set your sights on an age group victory. Here are some tips.
1) Know what it takes to win. Most race results are available online, so check them out for the last few years to see what the winning times have been. Keep in mind weather and course changes can alter finishing times from year to year.

2) Make sure that performance is realistic for you. Not all of us are blessed with the elite or even top age-group genetics. But we can all improve our performance by working on efficiency and economy.

3) Choose an event that suits your strengths. Are you better on hills or flats? Are you better in shorter races or can you maintain a strong pace for a long time?

4) Hire a coach. (and listen to them!) A coach is going to help you identify weaknesses that might be holding you back from reaching your peak performance. They will help make sure you are training properly and getting adequate recovery. There are a lot of coaches out there, so make sure to do some research in order to choose the right coach for you.

5) Be patient and disciplined in your training. Unless you are part of the few genetically blessed mentioned in #2, you need to take time to work towards your performance goals. This time is often measured in years. You also need to be focussed in your training to make sure your workouts are moving you towards your goals. (See #4).

6) Race often. I’m not recommending that you race every weekend, but race often enough to learn race strategies and what works for you. We often have to experiment with pacing and with nutrition plans in a race environment as well as in training sessions. The more experience you have racing, the better you will race.

7) Have fun out there. Often we have our best races when we’re enjoying why we’re out there. Sure, it still might be a “suffer-fest” but if you are relaxed (relative term here!) and enjoying the race, you might very well pull out a winning performance.

Coach Nicole is the author of The Triathlete's Guide to Race Week. She is also the founder and head coach for NEO Endurance Sports & Fitness, a Colorado-based endurance sport coaching company. She is a USAT Level 1 Certified Coach and also coaches triathlon for Team In Training. Learn more at http://neoendurancesports.com/. You can contact Coach Nicole with your questions for the Ask the Coach column on facebooktwitter or via email at nicole@neoendurancesports.com.

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