The XTERRA World Championship brings together the best off-road athletes from around the world. It’s an exciting time for all who are racing, but it can also be stressful. With less than two weeks to go it’s easy to start to second guess your prep and make poor decisions that will affect how you perform on race day. We’ve come up with a few Do’s and Don’ts to help you realize your potential on race day.
Stick to your training plan. Execute your workouts as prescribed. That means nailing your hard workouts and your easy workouts. Remember those easy days are just as important as your hard days.
Plan ahead for your packing and training. The days before you travel for a big race can be very stressful as you try to get everything in order and packed before you leave. There have been numerous races where I missed 2-3 sessions the week before a race because I was running around trying to get my bike fixed, put new tires on, buy new goggles, or set up my pets with home stays, etc. Do these things 1-3 weeks before you leave so that you don’t have to do them all at the last minute.
Pay close attention to your nutrition leading up to race day. Make sure you are getting the needed calories especially after workouts and stay hydrated. Electrolytes are especially important in Maui because of the heat and humidity.
Make sleep a priority. We all know that sleep is vital to recovery yet many of us arrive to Maui exhausted from scrambling to get everything together. Try to get your workouts done early in the day and keep your bedroom cool. Both will help you sleep better at night!
Start your packing early and use a checklist to help you. Starting early allows you time to find everything and make that extra run to the bike shop if needed. The checklist lets you know exactly what you’ve already packed so that you don’t have to go back and check for your goggles seven times.
Make a race plan and write it down. It can be hard to establish clear goals since XTERRA racing depends a lot on the course, other people, and Mother Nature. Times are less relevant, but you can still put together some goals for pacing and nutrition. Plan your effort and plan your nutrition either based on time or distance. Coming up with a race plan also forces you to think about many possible scenarios that could occur on race day. Your race likely will not go as planned, but you will be more prepared for whatever is thrown at you on race day if you’ve thoroughly thought it through.
Make sure your bike is in working order before you leave for Maui. Once you get there you don’t want to spend a day trying to get your bike working and miss a valuable day on the course.
Practice getting through the shorebreak. For many athletes that don’t live near the ocean this is one of their biggest fears heading to Maui. Getting through the shorebreak takes timing, but you have no control over the start of the race so your swim start can be tricky. In general, you want to run out until you are between knee and waist deep and then dolphin dive. As a wave is about to break dive under it until you find the calm spot under the wave. As the wave goes by dig your fingers into the sand and pull yourself forward and up. This may have to be repeated several times, but keep moving forward, and do not try to take on a wave head on. If you are running out and are only ankle to knee deep, dive over the wave instead of under.
Don’t pre-ride the entire course 1-2 days before the race. Riding 2-3 hours at moderate to somewhat high intensity one or two days before the race is a bad idea. If you arrive 1-2 days before the race consider riding just a portion of the course or not at all. Another strategy is to be very well rested before you arrive so a pre-ride of the course will be easier to recover from. I often place a complete day off 2 or 3 days out from the race, usually coinciding with travel. Remember the Maui course is long and taxing even if you go easy. It could take 3+ hours to complete at an easy/moderate pace and many of the climbs will push you into zone 3-4.
Don’t try to shed weight a week or two before your event. You want to execute quality sessions and your glycogen stores topped off. Running at a caloric deficit the week before a race is a sure way to perform poorly.
Don’t sabotage your race. The biggest pitfall I see is the sabotage, which usually occurs about a week out from the race. It is the lack of confidence and the unnecessary urge to complete one final confidence-building workout. Save it for the race.
Josiah Middaugh is the 2016 XTERRA Pan America Champion and the 2015 XTERRA World Champion. He has a masters degree in kinesiology and has been a certified personal trainer for 15 years (NSCA-CSCS). His brother Yaro also has a masters degree and has been an active USAT certified coach for more than a decade. Read past training articles at http://www.xterraplanet.com/training/middaugh-coaching-corner and learn more about their coaching programs at http://middaughcoaching.com.
Suunto builds the tools to help you reach your goals. With an award-winning line up of GPS sports watches, heart-rate monitors, and mobile apps, Suunto helps athletes train smarter and perform better. Sophisticated design and rugged construction ensure each Suunto watch is ready to tackle whatever you (and mother nature) throw at it.
Learn more at www.suunto.com.