Train like you Race or Race Like you Train
Should you race like you train or train like you race? Is it a binary choice?
There are many ways to approach this age old question that has challenged every athlete and coach. The actual issue becomes much more clear when you substitute the words for training and practicing with learning (the goal of training) and substitute testing for racing (what a race actually is). Learning and testing (Racing and training) have two very different goals and approaches when you see them as a binary. There are really 3 phases. For this example we will use practice and training as 2 separate approaches.
Practicing. Learning and developing skills to be better. This where your goal is not to just do something faster. You must focus on doing it better and more efficient. It’s about fine-tuning the execution, and looking for additional ways to ski even better while we are skiing slowly enough to monitor and think about the little details. This is where you live in the reach zone. Slow things down and take the time to learn. (Check out the Reach Zone) 50-70% of the time
Training. Learning to compete. Schools teach how to take tests. Billions of dollars are spent every years on students test them how to handle the SATs. Some time should be taken and given these skills. Timing and speed and key factors that need to be addressed here, but you should address race day routines and mindset as well. Build your start house and warm up routines. Create the mindset, intensity and focus that you would wish to duplicate in a race. Mental approaches, routines, starting, finishing dealing with stress and expectations. 10-40% of the time
Racing. Nothing magical happens in a race that has not happened in practice. An athlete’s race performance is the direct reflection of what the mind and body can produce when under pressure. To achieve a specific race result, an athlete must be prepared to learn and practice the skills to get the results. 5-30% of the time
“I’ve always believed that if you put in the work, the results will come. I don’t do things half-heatedly. Because I know if I do, then I can expect half-hearted results.”