Maybe this is your first Ironman, or perhaps you have already completed ten. No matter the distance of triathlon, I see everyone from veterans to first-timers making a few key mistakes. I hope my 10 tips will help you achieve the Ironman time that you deserve.
10. Water Stations Aren’t Just For Drinking.
Use water and ice to cool you down and wash off. Your hands may be sticky from nutrition, and nothing feels better than cold water on your head on a hot day.
9. Race Day Nutrition Must Be A Part Of Your Overall Strategy.
All bodies are different, so do some research and find out what works for yours (consulting a sports nutritionist is recommended). Also, keep the temperature of your race location in mind. Your body has different needs in extremely hot weather.
8. Don’t Forget The Sunscreen!
Like water, it will also help keep you cool and can prevent painful sunburns. Take advantage of race volunteers who may apply it for you. If volunteers are not available to you for your race, keep spray-on sunscreen at your transition area and apply before heading out on both the bike and the run.
7. Know Your Bike And How To Fix It.
Don’t let a flat tire ruin your race! Practice changing your tires before race day so you are confident in your ability to do so if needed.
6. Bring The Music With You.
Remember that amazing scene in Shawshank Redemption? Andy Dufresne breaks in to Warden Norton’s office to play Mozart’s “The Marriage of Figaro” over the prison speaker system and is punished with two weeks in the hole for the stunt. Andy says it was the easiest time he ever did. Tapping his head and his heart, he says, “the music was here…and here.” USAT bans iPods during competition so have a few favorite songs burned in your mind. I pick one that makes me happy and feel the strongest and listen to it over and over the morning of the race. Then, during the bike segment, I press “play” in my mind and it makes all the difference in the world.
5. Nothing New On Race Day, Or The Day Before.
NOTHING! Not a new brand of gel, not a different pair of socks, not even a new pair of sunglasses. If you have not tested each item out extensively during your training, do not use it. Your body and stomach will become very fragile during the long day and it is not worth it to take chances with something you aren’t extremely familiar with.
4. Walk Through Water Stations On The Run.
Not only does this break up the run into doable segments, but it will also allow you to take in proper levels of hydration and nutrition and help you commit to running the remainder of the race. Set boundaries and permit yourself to walk (only) at these planned markers.
3. Why Are You Doing An Ironman?
What’s your “one thing?” Be sure of it, own it and repeat it to yourself when you are certain you can’t take another step forward. Your mind and body will engage in an intense chess match at some point in the day. If you aren’t positive of your motivations to keep going strong, your body will win and you will slow down.
2. Allow Only Positive Thoughts On Race Day.
Negative thoughts won’t get you anywhere and can be destructive to your performance. Think about all the work you have put into training and how incredible an accomplishment it will be to finish.
1. The Race Begins At Mile 18 On The Run.
Keep this mile marker in mind until you reach it. Will you show up at Mile 18 with anything left in the tank? You should expend the appropriate amount of effort prior to this point, so that you are able to finish strong. Chin up and run solid for the last few miles. You are about to become an Ironman!