Do your friends call you bonkers for the sports that you do? Sarah is our resident ‘bonkers’ athlete – she has completed an Ironman, and this year ran both the London marathon and an Ultra Marathon, clocking up 50 miles in her ultra.
From one ‘bonkers’ athlete to another, here are Sarah’s top tips for prepping for your Ironman (or, for the less adventurous among us, these tips can also be used for other triathlon distances as well)…
1. Don’t Use Anything New
To avoid any nasty surprises on race day, only use gear you’ve tested/worn-in thoroughly in training. This includes trisuit, socks, goggles, trainers, nutritional products…
All those shiny new things at the expo may look great, but that fab new trisuit may not be so comfy at mile 90 of the bike leg.
2. Have a Fuelling Plan
“Bonking” (tri/cycling speak for hitting the wall) due to inadequate fuelling can mean the end of your race, or make it impossible to achieve the time you’ve trained so hard for.
To avoid this, have a tried-and-tested plan for what you will consume when, and stick to the plan (with products you’ve used before).
3. Use a Checklist for Packing
Make a checklist for what you need well ahead of time, and pack everything the night before.
You can’t rely on your memory when pre-race nerves are kicking in on race morning, or when your brain struggles to get going after a 4am alarm.
Handy hint: If you need to take the wheels off your bike, don’t forget to pack them in the car (yes, I know people who have actually done this!).
4. Pack Two Separate Bags
This tip will save you loads of time on race day.
If your event has a split T1 and T2, pack everything you need for each leg into separate bags.
This way, when you get to the venue it’s easier to sort everything into the bags you get given, AND you’re less likely to put something in the wrong bag by accident.
5. Use a Landmark for Transition
Transition can look very different when everybody has put all of their kit in it. Stumbling to find your kit can lose you precious minutes from swim to bike and bike to run.
You can count the number of racks to your area from swim in for a landmark. If possible, look for something outside of transition that won’t move to help you remember where your kit is.
Often, kit can get knocked and moved slightly when people are unracking and racking their bikes, so a landmark will help you find your kit fast.
6. Double Check Your Swim Gear
Most races shut the transition area a certain amount of time before the race. If you discover 5 minutes before the start that your goggles are in there, you won’t be able to go back in and get them.
On the flip side, make sure that you’ve left everything you need in transition so when you get back from your swim, it’s there.
7. Give Yourself Space on the Swim
If you’re a slower or nervous open water swimmer, start to the far side or the back of the swim start to avoid the chaos of a mass start.
Things will start to calm down a bit after the first 400m or so, and you’ve got 3.8km to make up the bit of time lost.
Finally, and some would say most importantly, try to enjoy the day. Ironman is a long day at the office. Things may go wrong and it will hurt, but it’s an experience you will never forget.
As one of my favourite quotes says “Pain is temporary; glory lasts forever.” Reaching that finish line will be one of the best things you’ve ever done (although your legs might not think so the next day!).
If you try these tips, let us know how you went in the comments below. Have any to add to the list? Add yours below – we always like hearing new ideas to pass on to our clients.
Note from Katherine: many of our clients report significant benefits from a post-event massage, a 30-min light flush to help with recovery about 12-24 hours after the event. It may be worth seeing if there are any recommended massage clinics where your event takes place and book ahead – or, just see us when you come back!