Categorized | Blog

Do the Math For Your Race

Posted on 19 August 2014

Recently, I met Billy Beane, General Manager of the Oakland A’s – famous for the movie Moneyball, staring Brad Pitt. I highly recommend reading the book or seeing the movie as it illustrates how math and statistics can change an entire sport.    Evaluating players and competing in the high salaries space of baseball within a small market to remain competitive by the use of mathematics is the premise of the movie. So what does this have to do with your next race?

do the math in your race

As endurance athletes we all love looking at the numbers. Split times, transition times, elevation gains, temperature, power ratio, average speed, RPM’s, turnover on the run, etc. It’s science and driven a lot by the math. What numbers will be the most impactful to overall race performance.

I am not suggesting that you over-analyze every potential mathematical equation and statistic for you pre-race preparation; however it’s important to look at the numbers with respect to your race plan.

Have you looked at the numbers of what average pace you need at all the various disciplines including factors that will increase time such as sleep, walking, time off your bike, etc? Over the years, I have used the numbers from a broad level to assist with long races lasting multiple days.

Top 8 Ideas’

  1. Use a GPS watch to make sure you hold you pace whenever your tired running, what’s the impact if you have to walk at a slower pace or your cycling average pace.
  2. Determine a plan with sleep included for a long event then determine what average pace you need to maintain either biking or running.
  3. Add in a “hedge factor” – things not always go according to plan.  Add time to the equation.
  4. What pace do you need to maintain if you’re struggling to meet the cut-off times and more important if your behind how much faster do you need to go to make the cutoff.   Plan it in advance so it’s not a panic situation and especially if you are using a crew.
  5. Plan you calories with the “hedge factor” – what and the exact amount will you eat/drink during times when you are way down
  6. Create 3 Race Plans for a long event – A, B, C.  Each one broken in detail of paces, times, etc. based on various performance targets.
  7. Use the free tools online for pace calculations for all the various distances if you not an excel/math wiz.
  8. Always have a plan to get to the finish line and the worst-case scenario of pacing times, splits and laminate it to ensure you and your crew know the exact numbers.

We can never plan for every potential hurdle during a long race; however by outlining in writing with the numbers you will have a guide to keep you on pace especially when the focus is just to get to the finish line. Use a simple 8X11 sheet and laminate the various race plans.

Remember:  “Not finishing is not an option.” Happy calculating.

Leave a Reply

Categories