The Pre-Race Habits and Practices of our Pros: Andy Potts
by Chris Bagg and Andy Potts
Ed. Note—on Tuesday we took you through what "Give me Five" means to Andy Potts, and today we take a deeper look at what the Colorado Springs-based professional triathlete does to prepare for races and difficult events.
Pre-race routine—do you have a set schedule you do every morning before a race?
Believe it or not, I have tried everything in my pre-race routine. I think that trying new things gives you the chance to experiment and figure out what works. The catch-22 here is something that works once or twice, may not work again.
A few things that I always do include eating a full batch of muffins and getting a proper warm up in. I am a big fan of getting in the water before the race. If that isn’t possible, you will usually find me with my stretch cords and stretching. I also have a breathing routine that I like to follow, you can check it out here:
And one thing I don’t recommend!
Years ago I was watching all of the swimmers slapping themselves in the legs, chest and arms to get muscles activated and primed. Well, I did this and was actually visibly ‘red’ in those areas as I went down to the start. Quickly into the race, I realized I actually hurt myself and was sore/could not perform. It was a painful lesson learned: no pre-race slapping.
Is there something you do in racing or training that you view as sacred but someone else might think of as strange? Would you mine sharing it with us?
I am a big fan of giving everyone five and encouragement at the races. I also love it when my competitors are racing great. It means we are all bringing out the best in each other and we can really push our potential. My preference is that I am just a bit better, but I love the push :)
Something you wish all age-group triathletes did or understood:
The two biggest things I wish AG triathletes understood are:
1 What works for me may not exactly work for you. Folks ask me all the time about what I do and I think a better question is what would I recommend that they do. The equation or ‘math’ behind what I do is very different as the stresses of my racing are different and the stresses of my life are different. I do not go to work on a daily basis, I do have to respond to different stimuluses or ‘attacks’ during a race, and the demands of my daily training are different. These things make a huge impact in how to properly prepare. At AP Racing(www.andypottsracing.com), we spend a lot of time developing training and racing techniques for AG racing success.
2 Consistency is your greatest factor for success: Contrary to my point above, whether you are a pro or Age grouper, being consistent is the #1 determinant for how well you will do in this sport. It is the day to day, week to week and year to year consistency that will truly make you a better athlete; it is not a single session, product or device.
Piece of gear/purchase (other than big ticket items such as bikes/wheels) that you couldn’t live without—doesn’t have to be racing/training related:
My slant board and my Marc Pro. I build my own slant boards and I use it as much as any other piece of equipment I have. I use it pre-training and always post training. It’s normal for me to stretch for 30-50 minutes at the end of the day and I will spend a ton of time on that slant board. As I age, stretching and self-care is critical. Coupled with stretching and proper nutrition, I have found that using the MarcPro device really helps with recovery, travel and getting me ready for my next sessions.
Book/movie/music you have recommended most to others and why:
I read a ton, probably more than I do anything except for train; so I will give you a little assortment. For a classic, go with Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged or Fountainhead. For a long series of books with a lot of action and an easy read, pick up the Jack Reacher Series or one of Harlan Coben’s Series.
For music, I am actually really into podcasts these days. My go-to is Michael Lewis, Against the Rules or if I want some sports talk radio, I usually listen to The Herd with Colin Cowherd.
The most important thing you’ve changed in your approach to the sport in the last eighteen months:
As an athlete, I am always learning as the demands of the sport are changing and I am changing. For me, in the last 18 months, there were two things that I have worked really hard at changing:
1 What’s happening between the ears. If you are not mentally engaged or excited for racing and training, you can not be successful. I have found motivation and excitement in my racing by doing more with my AP Racing team, doing different races, and training more and more with my training partner, Daniel Brienza, who constantly brings excitement and a challenge to the day.
2 My cycling: I have been known throughout my career for training exclusively indoors. I think there is immense value here and is a big reason for my longevity in the sport. With that, I have transitioned to riding outside three to five times per week now and have incorporated a lot of over-distance/time work into my training. This has paid dividends and I can say that I am unequivocally better now at 42 than I was 5 years ago.