Not long to go until ironman Wales and challenge Weymouth for all those goalspecific, tripurbeck and many many other athletes who have signed up! So, you have been training hard, and should be feeling strong now, and the nerves will be kicking in every time you think about your event. However, take stock, don’t be tempted to add in extra training sessions because you are feeling fresh, and take a bit of time this week to visualise your race day. You will be out there for a long time, so you need to make sure that you are prepared for it. Keep an eye on the weather forecast, and make sure you have the appropriate gear, whether its gilets, or sun cream! Half way through this week, its a good plan to move away from the high vegetable / fruit unrefined diet, as together with nerves, the fibre wont be helping you race day, and can cause some gastric stress. Its the time that eating pizza and white bread etc. is fine! Also you have decreased your training load, but don’t decrease your food intake, that way you are stocking up your glycogen stores nicely for race day. Also, don’t be tempted to eat a really big meal the night before, as this can leave you feeling a bit bloated race day. You are better off having a bigger meal on the Friday evening if your race is on the Sunday
Most of you will need to rack your bikes etc. the day before, so if possible see if you can get an early short spin in, with 5 x 2min race pace lifts (that’s ironman pace, not 10mile time trial pace!) just to make sure the legs are ok, get them ready, but not fatigued! Some athletes like to follow this with a short 5min run off the bike, personally, being someone prone to running injuries, I do not run the day before. Short sea swim is great, especially if you can get in where the start is, so you can line up some land markers with the buoys, also so you can see what the beach is like where you will be running in (is it shallow for ages, or suddenly quite deep?). Get all of this completed early, rack the bike then stay off your feet and keep well hydrated! Avoid walking miles around the expo as tempting as it is, it will only tire out the legs!
Also, before Sunday, try to spend sometime planning out your race day. Work backwards from the start of the race. You will need to eat breakfast at least 2 hours before you start, you make sure you leave yourself time to get there, park, check your bike, sort out last minute race nutrition (remember to check your tyres), go to the loo (might be worth taking some spare loo roll!), then probably go again before the race begins! Then get to the race start. (remember if you are doing Wales, you will be walked down to the start at about 6:30, so you need to be ready by then). Keep yourself warm! Its September now, the mornings can be cold, so take an old pair of shoes you can leave on until the last minute, and a hat, the last thing you want is to be cold before you start! (In Wales you have extra racking for trainers, as you have a rather long run back to transition) Then remember that plan in your head, (the one you have been visualising all week!); you know the first part of the swim will be messy, so plan for it. Think about where in the pack you will start as well, if your swimming is weak, I wouldn’t advise you start at the front, but if you are strong, then make sure you get to the front! Remember to relax and sighting is very important on a long distance course. Its a long way, you don’t want to make it any further by keeping going the wrong way. Then continue to follow that plan in your head, as you make your way into transition onto the bike. This is the section that you really need to make sure you fuel yourself well, and don’t go out too hard! – every 15-20mins is a good rule of thumb, and if its a two lap ironman, sticking to solid food initially, then swapping to gels, etc on the second lap is a good plan. You will be lining yourself up for a horrible run if you don’t fuel well on this section (and that also includes rehydrating lots as well)
Finally, the run! Again, take time in transition to eat/drink something, get your socks on so they don’t rub, then head out, and remember to keep eating! Usually the aid stations are well placed out, about every mile or mile and a half, so you can use these as your targets – run to aid station, walk through taking on fuel, then run again. You will no doubt hit some walls on the way, but think how far you have come, and how you will feel when you get to that finish, and every step, is always that little bit closer! . Also, as much as you visualise, and prepare, things will happen that you haven’t planned for, just remember not to panic, think about the situation and your solutions, and then solve them to your best ability.
Lastly, but really important, ENJOY THE DAY! I know for most of my athletes its their first or second ironman, so remember to look up, smile at those around you, thank the Marshalls, laugh in the face of adversity, and get to that finish line!