I hope you all enjoyed the last article about the ‘Bolt round the Holt‘ and my first experience racing over the longer distance of a Half Marathon.
Before I start writing I would like you to watch the You Tube clip below. This is a very famous clip from the 1997 Hawaii Ironman World Championship race. The race shows how you can push your body to the absolute limit and if you get your nutrition wrong, or hydration wrong or your PACING wrong!!!!
What did you think? Quite something isn’t it, and no matter how many times you watch it, it never gets boring.
Anyway, I wanted to talk to you about Speed. I like speed, I like to see how fast I can run, swim and cycle and in my triathlon life to date I have been able to keep pushing harder and faster. If I blew up and had to walk the last few kilometres of the run then it didn’t matter. I was racing for 2 – 2.5 hours in an Olympic distance race and I raced so often the odd bad result or ‘Bonk’ didn’t matter.
But now I am doing an Ironman. An event that I have trained solidly for, for the last 8-9 months and to go too hard or too fast on the day and ‘bonk’, when I have been preparing for so long would be a complete disaster!
You must be concerned with your fitness, not your speed and speed is never an indicator of fitness. Speed will distract you from evaluating the actual benefit or shortfall from your training session.
Speed is for your computer. It is typically used as a measurement for everyone else to understand, an easy way to provide others with a gauge of how you have performed and possibly compare. You must assess all the facts rather than concerning yourself with just speed.
Let say you average 18 mph for a cycle ride and your friend averages 20 mph – are you slower?
Were you on your training bike or racing bike?
Were you working to a heart rate?
Was your ride a recovery session and your friend doing the same session, on the same course, was he doing a recovery session or not?
How much elevation did you climb compared to your friend?
All of the above factors are just a few things that could explain why your friend’s average speed was quicker than yours.
If your average speed increases over a series of weeks while you freewheel down your local hill – what have you improved your fitness or your skill? Or was it just the weather?
Speed may be good for confidence, but conversely when your speed drops and you go slower this can knock confidence and distract you from identifying the real reason. Athletes that always concern themselves with speed are far more likely to lack confidence come race day.
Those who are hung up on speed often reduce warm up and warm down so as not to affect the average speed of their workout. These athletes end up being single speed athletes with no change of pace.
Pace judgment is the key in racing and Pace is not speed.
If you concern yourself with speed you will not be working efficiently and will typically be using the wrong energy systems and lacking good form. Your aim is to know your body better than anyone else. You cannot do this while just focusing on speed; you will fail to listen to your body.
I have written this for my own benefit as well as anyone else’s and and if you can take just one thing from it then it has been worthwhile reading?
Speed is something that you can use in conjunction with everything else to make yourself a ‘complete’ athlete. The longer the race the more speed becomes less important and then nutrition, hydration and pacing all become as, if not more important than ‘speed’!
I learnt my lesson last weekend at the Half Marathon and it was a lesson that I am not in a hurry to repeat, and especially repeat at the Lanzarote Ironman this May!
See you all soon, John