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A time trial or TT is any event where you test yourself for a distance. Many athletes use time trials to simulate race day stress, nutrition, skills, fitness and even their outfit! It’s kind of like a controlled experiment, where you set up race day conditions, without the race.
Think of it as a dry run, a good practice for runners and walkers and a chance to experience what a distance feels like. This includes practicing starting the day before with your nutrition, a good sleep, and breakfast, what to wear, when to show up, using the bathrooms, as well as how to pace yourself for the distance. While many events are virtual this year, you can use TT’s and Virtual Events as a way to prepare for success at future in person events.
For a first time participant there are a lot of factors to take care of, so please be sure to preview everything. Getting a chance to practice all this stuff before race day is HUGE in both physical and mental preparation.
If you want to perform your own personal Time Trial, here are some tips:
Do the TT as a key session in your week. Choose your distance and do it on a day that you think you will probably do a virtual event on. If in doubt, Sundays are good days to choose because most events fall on a Sunday morning. And we hope to be doing these in person events in the future!
The TT should be considered the week’s biggest effort. Your other sessions will be easy efforts.
You are doing the TT as a way to practice for other events, either virtual or in person. Remember that a TT is simulation of an event type effort, without the nerves!
Pacing –Depending on how long you have been training, those with GPS/Garmins will know their paces as well. For people unsure of their ability to pace, the TT is a perfect way to learn.
Start out very conservatively for the first half. After halfway, you will either be able to stay at the same level of exertion or pick up the pace (if you have started very conservatively). See if you can time the first half and the second the half of your distance. These are called ‘splits’.
If you ‘even split’ (get the same time for both halves) you have paced yourself well and will have a pretty good idea of your pace for event day. If you were significantly faster over the second half (faster by 1-2 minutes or more), this is called a ‘negative split’, and your second half pace, might be more of a realistic pace for you. If you are significantly slower (over 2 minutes), this is called a ‘positive split’ and then your pace is likely what your pace was at the middle point just before you started to slow significantly.
After you complete your TT, take a cool down period of another 10 minutes of easy jogging or walking, and then replenish your energy with some nourishing food and more water. Later that day stretch some more and get some good recovery. Give yourself at least 48 hours before you train again, although some easy walking, cycling or swimming will be good recovery.
I encourage you to approach a TT seriously but also lightheartedly. Put some serious thought into preparing, and show up calm and optimistic about it. Approach a TT with a logical and practical sense of it being a ‘dress rehearsal’. You are going to practice everything you want to happen on race day, including nutrition, hydration, mental preparation and physically practicing walking and running a distance. The more you can prepare before the event, the more likely your event will be successful, and also, stress free.
Racing is a game but it is also a commitment. By the time you arrive at the starting line, you have signed up, you have prepared, you have increased your skill level, and all that’s left to do is to enjoy the scenery, the people and the brilliant feeling of completing what you set out to do.
Run For Joy!