This is a photo of Scott Molina, Mark Allen and myself entering the transition area of the Chicago Triathlon in 1985. (Photo: Seth Goltzer, Triathlete Magazine). Throughout our race seasons leading up to the IRONMAN Championships in Hawaii, we all raced a variety of distances and didn’t just specialize in IRONMAN or 70.3 distance racing.

Nowadays, with a host of IRONMAN and 70.3 events to choose from throughout the year, it’s easy to get caught in a routine of racing these distances only. However, I’ve always encouraged my athletes to race at least two short races during their season—even if their “A” races are an IRONMAN or 70.3 distance events. Racing shorter distances could be comprised of two sprint distance events or two Olympic-distance races or one of each. There are also a number of shorter races that could be included in your race calendar.

The benefits of racing shorter distances are immense! It proves to be great practice and training for your longer events. With the intensities being harder, you are able to better recognize your muscular overload, breathing rate and elevated heart rate. This is a great time to practice calming your brain and will help when you may surge in your longer races, recognizing that you’re not going to fail but merely adapt to the workload, manage your physiological stress and move on.

Without experiencing the high intensity races and maybe not including High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) in your workouts, you haven’t played the right adaptive game to truly manage and succeed at racing longer distances.

Lastly, you’ll be able to recover from these short, fast races and the training benefit can give you a nice little kicker for the following week.

I always encourage my athletes to race an early season and late season short race.

What shorter races in your area can you add to your 2019 calendar?