Keep a race day log – learn from your experiences for future improvements

by The Coaches on July 28, 2009

You probably already keep a log of your training as a running record of how you’re progressing but do you keep one for races?  We tend to find that memory plays some funny tricks when it comes to racing – and the longer the race distance, the more susceptible you are to ‘selective memory’.  It’s a similar process to the one that makes you want to sign up for a race the day after you said ‘never again’ as you crossed the finish line.

Q) When should you write your race-day log?
A) The sooner the better – details will begin to slip away the longer you leave it and this is an information based process where details really matter

Q) What should I record?
A) As much as you can.  The sort of information you want to include might be:

  • Pre-race nutrition
  • Weather conditions
  • Specifics about the transition setup
  • Positioning during the swim-start – did you see others in different locations at the start?
  • Swim itself – a bumpy ride or a smooth one?  Any aches or pains?  Good draft or no-draft?
  • T1 – any specifics that were good or bad
  • The bike beginning – did you go out hard or hold back?  How was the mount?
  • Nutrition on the bike – how much, how often and what?
  • ‘Comfort stops’ how much and how frequent (sounds gross but key to hydration levels)
  • Hills – how did they feel – did you spin up or mash larger gears?
  • Incidents / observations on the course – any mechanical issues?
  • T2 – same as T1 – any specifics – e.g. did you need to stretch, did you have all the gear you needed etc.?
  • Run – transition phase – how did it feel?
  • Mid-section of the run – good pace?  Able to hold it?
  • Experience any stiffening during the run or any ailments or injuries beginning to present themselves?
  • How was your run nutrition? Did you take anything on the course and if so what and when?
  • Comfort stops on the run?
  • Notable hills or other course features
  • Finishing – how did you feel over last sections of the race?  Any issues with cramping or other ailments?

If you have a computer device that records your heart-rate then you should combine this with your notes – it can be a good reminder as to how steep those hills really were!

Q)What is the point of all this?
A) When you start to look over your times, you will inevitably begin to wonder where you might have saved some time.  As time progresses, your view will become less objective as you begin to forget the details.   With a set of race-day notes to look over, you won’t be suffering from selective memory syndrome and  you’ll know whether you really could have pushed that much harder on the hill or run 7:30′s when your notes said 8:00′s were killing you at the time.  It also serves as a good data source for where you want to concentrate your training efforts moving forward as well as providing excellent information for those race-reports that your friends are dying to read!

Train safe.

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