Most athletes prefer training to racing. Racing brings stresses and performance anxieties that training does not. Training, in general, is a much more controllable environment.
At races, we face new challenges that workouts do not have, from OMG I still have not been to the bathroom and the race starts soon, the bag check was not where I expected, transit delays, and the demand to make decisions in real time, before, and during the event. In a race, you go in with an expected pace and effort and during that race you find yourself making decisions about that pace/effort throughout.
Athletes tend to see every race event only in terms of the final result, but should view races in a broader way. A healthy race schedule should have a limited number of “A” performance expectation races, and a judicious dose of races that are preparatory in nature. Preparatory “B” & “C” races, allow you to baseline your performance, practice race strategy, and stay mentally sharp and relaxed. In this context, success can be defined in a broader and more productive way.
Executing a race well takes practice. It is important that each athlete develop a toolkit of skills and experiences to optimize their races. Race practice/experience is the best teacher.
Be sure preparation for your “A” race this year has a few races along the way to help tune/refresh your race execution skills. Develop the ability to be intentional in your approach, but flexible with circumstances as they unfold.