5 Tips – Making the most of your Ironman Prep by Kristy Hallett
20ish weeks to go until Ironman New Zealand. You’ve received the first few weeks of your Program from your Coach. The weather is getting more favourable for outdoors training. The mornings are getting lighter, the evenings longer, and you’re rearing to go (I know I am!)
Preparation is key to training and racing Ironman distance triathlons. The sooner you can control the ‘controllables’ the better. Here are 5 tips to start practicing from the beginning of your Ironman preparation. They may seem basic but it is amazing how many people I’ve spoken with who have only started thinking about these things when they start packing for an event.
- Practice your nutrition and hydration strategy for race day on every long ride and long run. If you’re doing a 20 week Ironman program, doing a lead-in race (or 2), then allowing for recovery/taper weeks where duration isn’t as long, you may only have approx. 11 or 12 long rides and runs to practice and fine tune your nutrition and hydration. Each week you practice your nutrition, record somewhere what you took out to training with you, what you consumed and if it worked so that you can improve upon that in the next session.
- Enter a race at least 6 weeks before your Ironman (so you’ve got plenty of time to recover, particularly if it’s a 70.3/half distance). Use this as a practice for your Ironman race from start to finish. Test your equipment, wetsuit, goggles, bike set-up, race wheels, race kit, socks, race runners, race number belt. Test your nutrition.
- Practice your racing skills in training. Fluid’s motto #traintorace is so true and will reduce the stress of race day. Skills to practice are:
- Swim Start, e.g. IMNZ is a deep water mass start. Practice with lots of other people in deep water to, a) learn deep water starts, b) get used to physical contact in the water.
- Transition - Practice having your bike shoes on the bike and putting your feet in while rolling. So much time can be used up in transition when it doesn’t need to be.
- Ride and run on similar terrain to that of the race course. At Fluid, this will be taken into account for you and locations will be put on your program to train at. I.e. IMNZ bike course is quite hilly and the road surface very coarse and windy.
- Bike position – if you’ve got any questions about changing your bike position, do it at the start of your Ironman preparation and try to have it nailed at least 8 weeks prior to race day. This will allow you 6 training weeks and 2 taper weeks to get used to it. Also make sure adjustments of new bike shoes/cleats/ cleat position are taken into consideration.
- Get a massage/treatment schedule set-up from the beginning. Don’t wait until you’re sore. I call my fortnightly Myotherapy treatments ‘maintenance’. At this frequency they keep me going and niggles are caught before they become anything more serious. 2 weeks is a very individual timeframe but it is one that works for me. Also get into the habit of becoming very familiar with your foam roller/ spikey ball, self-massage etc.
Once these things become routine in your training for Ironman NZ, the less stress you will have in the final weeks leading into the race. On race day you’ll be confident that you did everything you possibly could to prepare for your race. Enjoy the training. Train safe. Train smart. Train to race.