The Early Season Race

We’ve had an uncharacteristically wet winter in San Diego, but we can feel spring on its way. Pretty soon students will be on Spring Break and your winter workouts, or lack thereof, are about to reveal themselves. Race season is back baby! We are just as excited about racing as you, but before we dive into finishers medals, post race massages and the beer garden, there’s a few things we want to share with you about the early season races.

Lots of athletes approach their early season races with lofty goals. Too often the goals are too lofty. When we near the race and our Garmin data isn’t what we hoped to see we panic a bit. We start checking the confirmed athlete list to see who will actually show up, and the night before we stay up thinking about how our March race is going to play out. We don’t want you losing sleep and we definitely want you to keep the mental aspect of your race in check. So here’s our guide to the early season race and how you can get the most out of it.

Ease Your Expectations

Everyone is in the same relative fitness as you, and that means most of us are not near our peak fitness. Most triathletes are targeting a mid summer or late summer ‘A’ race. Very few athletes will actually make IM Oceanside 70.3 or Super Seal their ‘A’ race.  We are all coming in at the same phase of our training and some of us are using race day as a training day. Keep that in mind if your legs are not turning over as fast as they did last August. You’ll get there. Be patient.

Practice Your Transitions

Look, we get it. Setting up a transition in your garage and going through the motions isn’t what you look forward to the most on your training calendar. But it better be in there. It’s been months since your last transition. Don’t fumble your way through the transition during your early season race. Take some time to lay out the gear and practice, practice, practice. Want to spice it up a bit? Time yourself. And then try and beat that time with each transition practice.

 Swim More

At SBMS we have noticed that far too many athletes think their 2-3 swims per week are enough to propel them to race day glory. Some even have the mindset that they just want to “survive” the swim. That’s definitely one of our biggest pet peeves as we’ve seen talented cyclists and runners learn the hard way that surviving the swim also means surviving the bike and run. No one will appreciate your talent on the bike and run because your swim fitness is way under trained. Unfortunately for you, we don’t have a clever solution for you. Fortunately for you we do have a classic solution; consistency and hard work! We obviously recommend you hire one of our coaches, and if that’s not an option, start swimming more and put together a real plan for your swim workouts. A simple way that we look at swimming improvements is this; 2-3 swims per week will help you maintain your swim and 4-5 swims per week are required in order to improve your swim. With some time left before your early season race we think your swim likely needs an intervention. Get on it!


Setting goals for your races is something that you should be doing, and that includes the early season race. Just because you aren’t going to be at peak fitness in March or April doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be measuring your progress. In the off-season you should have been tackling a weakness head on. Set a goal based on that and go after it! No goals in a race could take away a lot of the fun in racing. There’s usually only 3 podium spots up for grabs so set smaller individual goals for yourself and reward yourself for that accomplishment.

 And… Race Like Crazy!

Just because you are not at your fittest for a March race does not mean that you should show up and dog your race. Race day is race day. We show up and we toe the line and race to the very best of our abilities. Yes, those abilities are not as far along as we want them to be, but race day is for racing. No matter where our athletes are on their race calendar race day is always 100% effort. You may surprise yourself and put up a great performance. More importantly, now that you’ve laid it all out there, you have a real idea of where your fitness is.