Ironman preparation is long, and it gives you plenty of time to screw things up. Alas, I seem to manage to get myself injured with great consistency before my ironman races. Before my last race of the season -- Ironman Florida -- I kept true to myself and managed to crash three weeks before race day. I was not happy.
When I talk to others about big goals I’m often surprised that people don’t necessarily know what they are up against. What does it take to qualify? Where are you relative to that qualification standard? What do you need to do to get to the standard it takes? These are all important questions you should ask yourself early on when you are formulating your plan for how to reach that coveted goal.
The last days before a big race are hell. I dread them. The training is in the bag, tapering has me edgy and wanting to move; ironman preparation is very long, making the stakes high; getting it wrong really stings. It seems it’s the same for everyone, though, and unfortunately that tends to show. Smiles are few and far between, people size each other up, and ironman racers are generally not the friendliest bunch in the days before the starting gun goes.
My recipe to dealing with the stress of race week comes down to four things: planning, routine, withdrawal, and a healthy dose of fun.
As a tall and relatively heavy (85kg) guy I need to produce a lot of power to get around an ironman course, which means a big energy need. Due to my size, my energy stores are likely bigger than average, but like for everyone else, they are far too small to get me to the finish line.
I will start a race with somewhere around 3,000 calories in my stores, but will need around 9,000 calories to get to the finish line. This means I need to get 6,000 calories from other sources -- either fat or race day nutrition intake. So when I look at fueling, I look at energy production and fuel intake during the race.
As dedicated long-distance triathletes we spend a lot of time, energy, and money in realizing our goals. I believe that one of the key ingredients to success is how well your training program works for you.
A good coach is important to a strong and consistent training program for those of us who are not going the self-coaching route. In my brief time as a focused triathlete I have found that there is more to it than just how good your coach is. In the first two years I worked with two coaches before joining Alan Couzen’s roster and losing my “coaching wanderlust.” Having finally found something that works has helped me realize what’s important to me in a coaching relationship.