There’s a Gold Mine in Your Notebook

The post-race report is one of your most important tools for nailing your next race.

It documents everything that you need to have in your next race plan for your best chance of perfect race execution.

The more comprehensive your post-race report is, the better.  It’s amazing when we can sit down and review our plan-to-actual, make adjustments, implement them, and improve.  That being said, some athletes do prefer to have a loose plan and light post race report. Here’s an example.

Here’s a general overview of a post-race report:

  • What you did in the days leading up to the race, during your race, and after your race.
  • Everything you ate and drank in the days leading up to the race, during the race, and after the race.
    • When you ate and drank, and how much
    • Carbohydrates (and types), Water, Electrolytes, BCAAs
  • How you slept
  • Issues that came up during the race (i.e. flat tire, random calf cramp, rain)
  • How you dealt with those things – what you tried that worked/ or didn’t
  • Subjectively how you “felt” before the race, during the race, after the race

Because the post-race report is most valuable when it’s comprehensive and detailed, I recommend writing it within 24 hours of a race – it’s best to record it when the race is still fresh in your mind.

Post-race reports are helpful to review the things that went well, but they also help you see what went wrong and, more importantly, show you how to correct them.  Proper measurement and review helps you move closer to your perfect race.

We have race plans because we know how our body should perform based on rigorous testing in training.  When you race according to plan, you should have a perfect race every time… Right?  Not quite.  If race conditions deteriorate, or something goes awry, the post-race report allows us to delve into the why.  Generally, there are two culprits that can mess up a race.

The primary culprits that mess up a race are nutrition and pacing. Nutrition isn’t just what you’re eating during the race, it’s what you eat the morning of, the night before, and even two days before the race. During the race when you have your fuel, it’s what types of fuel you have, how much and when, and the details within (i.e. different types of carbohydrates).  It’s also hydration status (including electrolyte ingestion) throughout the race. If an you push too hard you may not have been able to absorb as many calories, maybe you went too hard at the beginning and bonked and had a really long day, and became nauseous or started porta-potty sampling (not fun).  Pacing and nutrition are incredibly important and must be precise. The post-race report compares the race plan to the actual race execution, and when we review the results, we can make changes to try for better results.

The weather also plays a factor in your hydration status, nutrient absorption and pacing. A hot race can increase core temperature forcing the body to work harder to keep the internal organs cool.  It then has a battle for where to send blood: the gut for metabolism, the muscles for forward motion, or the skin for cooling.  The body will try to cool itself first, and will force you to slow down if there isn’t enough blood to propel you forward, keep you cool and digest calories.  Knowing how your body responds in these conditions is important so you know how to hydrate and use electrolytes in hot conditions.  Weather factors can really goof up a race, so having a plan and testing it if something crazy comes up (28 degree windchill in Ironman Florida 2004 when I came out of the water???) can be what allows you to persevere over your competitors in any given race. The post-race report then let’s you know how that strategy worked.

In addition to all the numbers, it’s important to review how you felt. Pre-Race stress, anxiety, travel, work stress, family issues, and hotel drama are all sorts of things that can go wonky and affect a race. For some athletes, even their expectations of themselves, fear of the start, or not believing they can reach their goals can self-sabotage before the gun ever goes off!  Granted, with a good coach you should know exactly what you can do in a race given certain circumstances.

My coached athletes go into a race with a plan. They know how hard they should be working, when they should be eating, what they should be eating, and how much they should be drinking. They know to constantly keep checking in with themselves and to stay focused.

Following your pacing plan, controlling what you can control, and rolling with the rest will enable you to have your optimal race day on any given day. Therefore, knowing what works, what doesn’t work and what could work are invaluable.

Write your post-race report, and let’s plan your next successful race!