To all the Purple Patch performance enthusiasts out there: if you haven't noticed, we're well and truly in the race phase of baseline training now. I was reminded of this on a recent bike class as we hit the session with the goal of leaving "no leftovers". For everyone who has been training on Squad baseline for the last several phases of training, you have heard that the ongoing message and focus of workouts are preparing the body and laying the foundation. NOW is the moment you've been putting all that work towards - high-effort and race-focused sessions that help to lift your fitness to the next level while practicing race-specific skills that you need. Challenge yourself to see what you can do for the next ~9 weeks of training, and apply those increases to your race performances.
On races, this is also the time of year that offers many athletes the opportunity to join smaller local events as part of the summer season, which is highly encouraged. As you aim to manage your training around these "B" or "C" type events a few things to think about:
Even if you're treating a race event as a "training day" you still need to be sure to take enough recovery following that you don't set yourself back. For most, any race event is harder/higher intensity than even a key session would be.
Aim to avoid heavy SE work on the bike for the 1-3 days prior to the event. This will leave the legs a bit heavy and impact performance. You still want to have a good day out there and the race will provide plenty of fitness stimulus to keep you moving forward.
Don't miss the opportunity to practice some of the very race-specific skills and techniques you need to hone! Even if you're out for a fun day, the chance to practice your transitions and transition zone logistics, bike mounts and dismounts, and the ever important hydration and fueling are not to be missed.
Of course, these low key races are also a potential opportunity to test yourself with different racing strategies that perhaps you've been thinking about but are afraid to commit to on the "big day".
Finally, don't forget to make some post-race notes for yourself following the event. Tracking different lessons learned from the day, as well as notes around how you felt going in and coming out of the bigger effort, can help you put some context around the effort as you build towards your A-race.
And a final thought for those using these events as primers for an upcoming A-race. These efforts can be wonderful set ups to boost fitness and fine-tune those race skills, but just remember that the goal is always to show up at the main event feeling fit AND fresh, so don't let the lure of stacking additional racing on top of all of the training in the plan pull you in. Give yourself the recovery sessions required before jumping back into your build.
Now let's get out there and race!