Not even close.
One of the most important things I learned when researching the story for this month’s Triathlete magazine, “Top 10 Rescues When Your Race (or Workout) Goes South,” is that you can almost always work back into your race.
Pro triathlete Torbjorn Sindballe, 3rd place winner in the Ironman World Championship in 2007 and chief performance officer at Advitam Sports explains that you can always find a sweet spot — even when things seem to be going wrong. How’s that? Here, he offers even more detail:
“I think the most important aspect is that you need to let go of pre-race expectations and time targets when things go south and create new goals based on your situation. If you get caught in a negative thought spiral when things deviate from the pre-race expectations, you have to let those expectations go before you can turn things around. So rather than being frustrated that you cannot run any faster, accept that you need to lower your goals, lower the pace a bit, regroup and possibly assess whether you need more or less fluid, energy, or electrolytes, and then build back into the race. Your body is extremely intelligent and can tell you where you are in balance if you let it. [See how it worked for one coach and athlete.]
“If you compare early race rhythm to the rhythm late in the race, it brings in a pacing aspect. Early in the race it is easy to find a sweet spot and it is important that things feel easy in the first half of bike and first half of the run. From then you will have to fight and adjust fluid, energy and pace by your feeling rather than will.
The final aspect is to gain perspective and apply a dynamic understanding of the race and believe that it is possible to build back. Sensations in a race are rarely absolute and can change over time if you make the right choices. Often we need to accept the bad before we can move on to create a new positive mindset on the remainder of the race.”
Don’t have any more races to test this in? It works in workouts, too. Go and see where your mind and body can take you. Especially on a “bad” day.