Why Athletes Need a 'B' Race

a triathlete running to the finish line
March 28, 2017

Mike Ricci


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Hopefully, by now you have signed up for your A race this season?  It not, get to it!  Your training will be focused toward getting you to race day in peak form to achieve the goals you have set out for that day. So why do another race before that?  The impetus for this article was that I recently raced a 'B' race and did not heed my own coaching advice. 

Call this a “tune up” race and here are some of the advantages: 

  1. Test your fitness. This allows you to see where you are and lay down some solid efforts in a competitive environment.  Most of us can push harder in a race environment. 
  2. Dust off your race gear.  Let’s be honest, many of us raced last fall and may (or may not you type A anal triathletes) have shoved the gear in the race bay and let it hibernate for winter.  Time to get out the gear, go through our bag and check the status of equipment.   For me personally, I did a poor job of storing my gear and thus my cap was dried and partially melted to my goggles, my shoes were washed but jammed in the bag and there were some nutritional items I could not identify that had likely multiplied in my gear.  Even if you are meticulous about your gear, give it a once over. 
  3. Racing is great practice. There is a process for pre-race prep.  So even though this is a B race, put your race wheels on, tune up and clean the bike- a clean bike is a fast bike.  If you don’t get a tune up at least take the time to clean your bike with the chain being the most important. Clean it!  This is a great chain cleaner kit, every triathlete should own. And, my favorite chain lube.
  4. Nutrition. If you are thinking of changing your race nutrition plan or you don’t have one, this is the time to practice and prepare.  I don’t recommend a large dish of brussels sprouts and beets for pre -race, which I may have accidently done. Practice your low fiber/higher carbohydrate dinner and your race day breakfast.  Even if the race is shorter you can try out the fueling plan to see how it holds up. 
  5. Equipment. New wheel, hydration system, helmet… Sure you will practice in training but using this in a race can be different.  Better to realize you cut your aero bottle straw too short in a B race versus when you cannot reach it in your A race. 
  6. Pre-transition practice.  Lay out your gear and give it a practice round or 2 in your driveway. Your neighbors already laugh at you so give them some more amusement.  Run to your bike in your wetsuit, strip down and go through the process of getting your gear on.  In my case I failed to realize my shoes insoles were not in alignment and the Velcro was seemingly glued down- this cost me time on race day.  My point here that as a 10-year veteran of the sport and a coach I still make mistakes and with a few practice rounds I could have saved some time in transition.  After you spin around the cul-de-sac return the bike and transition to run gear.   Go through this a few times and come race day, no surprises. 
  7. Mental. For those with race anxiety, racing prior to your A race can help diffuse that. For those who love racing, more fun in this sport. 

How to select your B race?  Ideally, it is a local race and a shorter distance.  Here are some guidelines.  If your A race is:

  • Olympic Distance - race a Sprint, 2-4 weeks out
  • 70.3 – race an Olympic, 2-4 weeks out
  • Ironman - race a 70.3, 3-6 weeks out 

As a coach, I work with my athletes on their annual training plan which includes A/B and sometimes C races. We strategically choose those races based on timing, location and what works for the athletes.   
Good luck and have fun this season! 

Coach Mike Ricci is the Founder and Head Coach for D3 Multisport.  His coaching style is ‘process-focused’ vs. ‘results-focused.’ When working with an athlete, their understanding of how and why they are improving is always going to take precedence over any race result. Yes, there is an end goal, but in over 2 decades of coaching, experience has shown him that if you do the right work, and for the right reasons, the results will follow.

Coach Mike is a USAT Level III Elite Certified Coach, Ironman University Certified Coach, and Training Peaks Level II Certified Coach. He was honored as the USAT Coach of the Year.

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