Less is More: the Case for Fewer Races

Less is More: the Case for Fewer Races

Spend time with triathletes for long enough, and you’ll no doubt be involved in a conversation that goes something like this (or exactly like this, since this is an actual post on the X3 Team Forum – redacted for sake of privacy):

17 reasons why we should do 70.3 Florida in April 2018:

Athlete 1 will be pleasant and cheery for her 4am wake up call and won’t tell her roommate to F Off!

Athlete 2 will make his triathlon debut. Yes, he will swim. Note: Elmo floats are not permitted

Athlete 3 needs a reason to update the team racing chart

Athlete 4 will attempt his first 70.3 shirtless

Athlete 5 will race her new shiny tri bike for the first time

Athlete 6 ……did someone say race!

Athlete 7 first race as a Canadian after I adopt him.

Coincidentally Athlete 8 has a family property in Florida and can’t miss this race

Athlete 9 wants to start an Avocuddle movement south of the border

Athlete 10 wants to unleash his 6 pack after a long honeymoon break and eating like he was at Mandarin everyday

Coach needs a “business” trip to get some sleep

Athlete 11 wants a longer road trip than Chattanooga

Athlete 12 is tired of being fast & furious and wants to show he is skilled in long & slow……wait are we talking triathlons!

Athlete 13 has dominated the Olympic distance and wants to high step into 70.3 field

Athlete 14 wants to get out of Montreal in April when it’s still -30C!

Athlete 15 will prove that red goatees are aerodynamic

And finally…….I need a reason to train for and did I mention I love trips!

Are … you … in?

Forty-two comments followed. The cool-aid flowed freely.

Racing is fun! Racing is the raison-d’etre for many triathlon journeys. Racing is playtime. Racing is the cherry on top of that sweaty sundae.

I get that. I do. Yet convincing our athletes to race less is one of the most common negotiations I conduct.

There are reasons to be more selective with your competitions. Here are five.

  1. Save money

Once you buy your bike and your wetsuit, race fees, travel costs, and accommodations are the fattest line items in a triathlon budget. Racing less equals spending less, or – looked at a different way – allows you to race higher-profile events in more interesting locations.

  1. Train more

When you’re racing, you aren’t training! As a coach, this one’s a biggie. Even a ‘C’ sprint means a missed weekend of training – or at best a compromised weekend. Racing necessitates recovery too, again reducing the time available for quality training.

  1. Burn out less

The intensity of short course or the duration of long course racing is taxing on the central nervous system in ways that are not often readily apparent. Dig that hole deep enough, and your whole season suffers. We often talk of overtraining, but I believe that over-racing is at least an equally likely risk.

  1. Perform better

More quality training equals better physical fitness. Not burning out equals better psychological fitness. Both are key to optimal performance. So less racing equals better racing.

  1. Less is more

Racing is special – or I think it ought to be. Do it too frequently, and it begins to lose that lustre – that magical quality. It starts to be less of a big deal, less special, less memorable. I’d rather have one or two bright spots in a season, than a blur of half-hearted events.


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