Question: I'm a very strong swimmer, but mentally don't go all out as I know I still have bike and run to come. How do you know your limits?
The fact that you're a good swimmer means you know where you actually are fitness-wise. How do you know if you’re pushing hard enough to get the maximum out of your strength? Through training. It's about understanding your numbers and knowing, ‘Okay I can swim ten 100s coming in off the 1:15, I shouldn’t try to go 1:13 because I will blow up.”
You learn that from your training, and then you need to have the strength of character or the confidence in yourself to implement that in a race when everyone else is starting off hot – the complete opposite. Have the confidence in implementing your own race strategy.
Question: In training I'm bang on the numbers and can push myself to the limit, but when it comes to a race the wheels fall off! Any help in how to replicate what I can do in training in a race?
That’s the magic question. If you’re getting the numbers right in training with the right parameters, then there’s no reason why you can’t execute on race day. So I’ll ask you this question: what are you thinking on race morning? What’s going through your head? Is it a nerves thing? Is it anticipation? Anxiety? Is it second-guessing yourself when things are getting tough? Usually when an athlete is not executing on race day what they’re showing in training, it’s a mental thing.
The other possible cause is a disconnect between your target training numbers and your desired outcome on race day. Always go back to the drawing board and be honest with yourself. Look at the numbers you’re aiming to hit in training and compare them to what your goal is. It’s like me saying I want to break eight hours for an ironman – but I’m only training at 240 watts. Sure, I’m hitting those particular numbers in training, but to attain my goal I actually need to put out 420 watts on race day. So are those things aligned?
Getting it right for all of us – pros and amateurs alike – is not a guarantee and that’s what makes racing so special and this sport so cool. There’s always something you can improve; it’s just a matter of being confident enough to ask the questions like you’re asking now.
Chris "Macca" McCormack is a four-time triathlon world champion with the biggest winning percentage in the history of the sport. He is a co-founder and partner in Super League Triathlon, CEO of the Bahrain Endurance 13 team, founder and executive director of MX Endurance, and CEO of MANA Sports & Entertainment Group.