Race With Heart

In a world full of devices, gadgets, social media, and over exposure to all of our lives it is really easy to get caught up not only in what other people are doing but what you believe that your “data” should be.  As we get further along in the sport, we find ourselves becoming more entrapped in our data from our watts, heart rate, to our CTL and TSS on training peaks we are overwhelmed and over consumed with data everywhere.  While I am a firm believer in data and the benefits that come with it I am finding as a coach and athlete that because of the data we are straying further and further away from what this sport really is about, from why we got into it.

Too often I come across training peaks comments from athletes or see posts on social media after races where training days or race blew up because someone was so worried that their heart rate number was totally accurate or that they couldn’t push the power that they thought they should be able to push.  How, is that helping anything?  We’ve become so ingrained in our numbers that if we don’t follow our numbers to a tee we panic and totally derail our day.  Nothing is ever going to be perfect out there on a race nor is it going to be perfect on race day.  But the only question you really must ask yourself is are you giving 110% in that moment? If you are than no matter what the data says you are doing exactly what you should be doing. 


It is time to change that. To get back to the basics and remember why we do this, for a feelings, not for data.  Look back, when you did your first race did you have a power meter? Did you even where a watch? I know for me my first race I didn’t own a wet suit, my bike for sure didn’t have a power meter, and I only wore a watch for the run.  I didn’t think twice about how many watts the person next to me was pushing or whether their CTL on training peaks was higher than mine on race day.  The only thing I cared about was racing fast, racing hard, and doing everything I could to beat the person in front of me.  I raced with heart.

Again, don’t get me wrong I love data as much as the next person and I am known for getting really frustrated when my numbers don’t match what they should, or I can’t even remotely hit the numbers I am shooting for. However, that is in training. When I am out on the course, I do everything I can to only focus on pushing 110% out on the course and whatever the numbers are because of that that’s what they are.  Over the last year I have started to not focus on numbers at all especially during 70.3 races, which I have worked on training towards racing as if it was an Olympic – basically all out, which means that I rarely glance at my power on my Garmin Edge and even on the run I don’t pay much attention to my watch.  For example, most recently at Ironman 70.3 Chattanooga I didn’t even look at my Garmin watch to determine my run pace, every ounce in a while I glance at it to keep me on track but mostly, I just ran.  Focusing all my energy on keeping forward, if I had focused all my energy on my watch, I would not have kept it as steady and the run wouldn’t have seemed to go as quickly as it would have.

Letting go of the data isn’t always easy especially because as we grow as an athlete our splits, power, and paces are what help us to structure our best race plan. Allow yourself to be guided by guts and glory;  let the desire of the outcome and the want that got you into triathlon to push you to new limits.  When you let your heart guide you, and not let the data limit you, you really don’t know where it’ll take you. Check out the video below for a video I gave my athletes on racing with heart.

Choosing to let go of the data isn’t the easiest thing to do but I promise if you let your heart guide you throughout your journey you will find yourself not only feeling more free during your races you may find that you are faster because you are less hindered by the panic that can choke you when you’re not right on your paces.