The triathlete ego can be a very fragile thing.

Are you easily provoked and goaded into racing your friends or people you don’t even know?

We’ve all had it happen. You’re riding with a group. One or two guys suddenly surge. You follow, lest you get dropped.

It’s hard, but nobody acknowledges it. Everybody tries their best. Some get dropped, some don’t.

Or, you’re alone and someone you don’t know comes up behind you and starts drafting you. You try to drop him. Maybe you succeed, maybe you don’t.

Either way, you burn a few matches.

Then, race day rolls around. You and your coach have painstakingly planned your target watts and paces to achieve your very best race possible.

Except on the bike, a guy passes you and your competitive urge rears its ugly head.

You look at the guy and think he’s probably in your age group. If you can just keep him behind you, you’ll maybe get a higher ranking or better result.

Suddenly you’ve shifted your point of reference away from your own power, pace, and heart rate targets to targets relative to somebody you don’t even know.

Somebody that could be far stronger than you, or in a totally different age group.

You’ve committed the crime of racing others, and not racing your own race.

You’re not racing smart.

The only time I would throw all my numbers out the window like this is if I was in my last few km of the run, about to cross the finish line.

I really did write it on my arm

When I raced Ironman Malaysia (full), my friend Andrew Schleis actually told me this, “Race your own race. You’ve done this before. Race smart. Write that on your arm.”

He knew that I liked to talk to others, and get paced by others.

He knew that I may choose to be social instead of follow my targets (See tip #3, Make a Friend on the Run). That tip is all about disconnecting from the pain and taking your focus away from the race and become entertained.

But that’s not what this is about.

That’s a dissociative technique, which is outward looking.

Racing your own race is an associative technique, and is inward looking.

Either way, you shouldn’t be basing your paces and races off of somebody else. They are a different person with a different race plan and strategy (or maybe none at all).

You are racing yourself.

Let that faster guy go, even if you know he’s in your age group.

He may blow up later.

Race smart.

Your ego is not that fragile, after all.

YouTube player
Watch this short video on racing your own race

Related tips:

Tip #3: Make a Friend on the Run

Tip #17: Get IF and VI right (Joe Friel’s Submission)

Tip #51: Use Associative Techniques

Tip #52: Focus on the Numbers