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ViF - Featured Motivational Quotes

"Ability is what you're capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it."
Lou Holtz - College Coach Great

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Dave Scott - Six Time Ironman World Champion

Rain predicted...make the best of it and train for a rainy (day) race.

The Upside of a Rainy Day
       Jim Rutberg and Chris Carmichael offer some suggestions on how to make rain your ally on race day.
       (Chris Carmichael is founder of Carmichael Training Systems, the Official Coaching Partner of Ironman and Ironman 70.3. Jim Rutberg is a Pro Coach for Carmichael Training Systems, Inc.)

   One of the wonderful parts of triathlon is that races rarely get called for rain. Auto racing and baseball have their rain delays, but a downpour won't stop triathletes from pushing on. Sure, some races get delayed and some have to be cancelled or altered due to lightning, but if you're going to be a triathlete you're eventually going to ride through a soak-you-to-the-bone bike leg. Yet rain doesn't have to be the end of a beautiful day if you know how to ride fast and stay safe on wet roads.

   The Upside of a Rainy Day

   Heat is an endurance athlete’s primary enemy and the harder you work the more heat your body produces. Racing in the middle of a sunny mid-summer’s day just makes it more difficult to keep your core temperature from rising out of control. In these conditions, rain can really help keep you cool. This means it will be easier for you stay on top of your hydration. Better hydration means you’ll stay stronger longer through the bike leg and have more energy left in the tank for the run.

   Of course, the same rain that keeps you from overheating can also cause your body temperature to drop too much, which means hypothermia is not out of the question, even in the summer. Sudden rain storms can drop air temperatures 20 degrees in less than an hour and the rain itself can be quite cold. This is especially true if you’re racing at higher altitudes. If rain is threatening and you’re competing in an Ironman or Ironman 70.3 race, leave T1 with a rain jacket. If the rain is warm and you don’t use it, no harm done. But if the temperature drops significantly and you can’t stay warm through exertion alone, then that jacket may be the only thing standing between you and a DNF.

   Staying Safe

   Staying warm is part of staying safe when you’re riding in the rain. As you get cold you lose focus, or you focus more on being cold than on controlling your bike. Either way, you’re not concentrating on going fast or keeping the rubber side down. But if you can ride safely and manage your core temperature, you can have a great race in the rain. Here’s what you really need to remember about staying upright on wet roads:

   Avoid road paint, grates, and manhole covers: Wet steel and paint are among the slipperiest materials you’re going to encounter on the roads. Ironically, a lot of athletes will ride on top of white lane lines because they’re sometimes smoother than the road surface, but they’re really slick when you make a turn. Also, watch out for painted crosswalks, directional arrows in intersections and railroad crossings.

   Brake early and in a straight line: Some brake/wheel combinations work better in the rain than others, but none work as well as when they’re dry. It will take you longer than usual to slow down and you want the vast majority of your braking done before initiating a turn, so really think ahead. Pulling hard on your brakes in the middle of a wet corner is likely to be the start of a wild ride.

   Test your equipment in training: This tip comes directly from the preceding one, but you’d be surprised by the number of athletes who don’t take their race-only gear out for a rainy-day test ride. Do yourself a favor and get out there with the carbon wheels and your full race setup and make sure you know how your bike’s going to handle in wet weather. If you have to find out your brake pads are next-to-useless in the rain, better to realize it on a training ride.

   Test your apparel in training: Cycling and running in the rain can make for challenging apparel choices, too. Test your eyewear to see if the lens shape provides protection from spray when you’re in an aero position. It’s also a good idea to test your running apparel in the rain because wet clothing is more likely to cause chafing, which is something you want to know about ahead of time so you can apply a skin protectant like Aquaphor during T2.

   Keep the bike more upright through corners: All right, so you have the right brake pads, controlled your speed and avoided the painted crosswalk; now you just have to turn. Since your tires have less traction on wet pavement, you can’t lean your bike into corners the way you can when it’s dry. Instead, keep the bike more upright, focus your eyes on where you want to exit the turn, put your outside pedal down and plant your weight on it. Maintain light, and steady, pressure on both brakes if you need to and be patient. A lot of crashes occur when a person gets overzealous about accelerating out of a corner. They shift their weight and jump on the pedals too early, just after the apex of the turn, which is enough to break what little traction they had. Get through the corner and then start accelerating. It may seem to take forever, but it’s only a few seconds and it’s a lot faster than picking yourself up off the ground.

   A lot of athletes associate rain with misery and automatically assume their performance is going to suffer when the skies open up. In truth, as long as you can manage your core temperature, you can perform just as well – and in some cases better – in the rain. Learn to be comfortable and confident riding in wet conditions and the only thing your competitors will see is the spray coming off your rear wheel.

This article and other training tips featured at Ironman

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