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Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Race Like an Olympian

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By Grace Chen

Whether you are a cyclist, runner or swimmer, preparing to be competitive is not something that should be entered into lightly. In order to be successful in the race, you will need to build up your strength, endurance, and speed. If you are just starting out, the longer and harder races might seem impossible – but with time and effort in your training you can be a serious race contender.

  1. Go!

    Deciding when to start training for a race is up to the individual. There is no "set time" that is right for everyone. A large part depends on your current level of experience and training. If you have only gone out biking or jogging on occasion, then you will need more time to practice than someone who actively participates in races.
    If you are a novice when it comes to racing, plan on at least 16 weeks of training before you will be ready to enter. This allows you to start slowly and increase your speed and distance gradually, enabling you to work with your own body’s strength and endurance. It will also give you a chance to build up your confidence when it comes to competing. Remember, half the race is a strong mental attitude. Starting out slowly will also help to eliminate some of the risk of injury that can occur if you try to push yourself too hard.

  2. Start Small

    The basic thing for you to remember while training is to start out small, then  set gradually increasing goals for yourself. If you are planning on biking for 100 miles, for example, you can’t start out doing 50 the first day if you haven’t ridden the bicycle for 10 years. Instead, you will need to start out with a smaller goal, say 10 miles, and gradually increase it as your training progresses. The same goes for running and marathon training. This steady increase in speed or distance will allow you to achieve your goals without putting your health or muscles at risk.

  3. Setting Goals

    Since setting goals is so important, it is necessary to access where you stand today and what your goal is for the future. To assist with these, Garmin devices are often very useful. They allow you to monitor your current progress – such as how far you have gone, how fast you are going, or your heart rate. They can also help you track your progress, set your goals by allowing you to race against previous times or an imaginary opponent, and keep track of your different routes, among other features.

  4. Planning the Terrain

    Another aspect that Garmin devices can help with is planning different routes, taking into consideration the type of terrain that you will be running or cycling on. For instance, if the race is going to be in a hilly area, it would be more effective for you to train among hills than on a flat track. That way you can be adequately prepared for the taxing efforts that a race can lead to.

  5. Investment in Time

    The last thing to consider is the amount of time that you can devote training to a race. If you are only able to put in an hour or two a week, then you might not be ready for the big marathon or triathlon. Keep in mind that just like anything else you hope to succeed at, the more time you can put into training the more successful you will be.

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