IRONMAN Race week
Finally! Race week is here. Along with the chance to race, you also have all the extra energy from the taper, the nerves, the extra eating, the hydrating, the mood swings, and maybe even some tears! You get to travel to the race location, where suddenly everything becomes very real when you’re looking at the course, the commentators and the red carpet. You can easily get intimidated by the distance, the climate, the competitors and everything else which adds up to racing a long course triathlon event!
What are the important things to think about?
Firstly it is important to arrive rested. There is no point getting to the event tired and stressed. So make sure you arrive on location in good time. If you have far to travel, you will need to consider the effects of flying on both your hydration and oxygen levels as well as jet lag. Generally speaking arriving to a local event within a couple of days is plenty.
If rest is the most important thing to do, then clearly sleeping well is also important. Race morning will be very early, so take the time before hand to build a surplus of sleep. Keep your wake up time (if you can) more or less the same, but try napping in the afternoon or look at going to bed a bit earlier.
This means you need to have a clear race week plan. Make sure you know your flight times, your accommodation location, how to get to the race village, how to get to the transition zones, how to get to the briefing, times of (e.g.) swim practices if you want to do them, or nearby pools, how to get to the restaurants – if possible, book the restaurants. For minimal stress, make a concerted effort to plan as much of this out in advance, while of course allowing time for your afternoon nap! Put all this into your weekly plan and remember to stay off your feet and out of the heat in the last couple of days to ensure you are fully rested. If you need to train, train. Otherwise, you have no reason to be on your feet! All too often, people end up walking everywhere. Use a step count to see how much extra walking you suddenly do when you arrive and then stop it!
We have put together a helpful kit list here. It is worth reviewing your own and make sure you have everything that you need. It is also worth taking some time now to make sure your travelling companions are organised. If you are going in a big group, you will need to either wait for the one person faffing or you just do your own thing and don't let them interfere with your preparation. You will need to be somewhat selfish, but if you are open with this to people from the beginning, then everyone will most certainly understand!
Finally, you need to be eating! This is often overlooked as to just how much it needs to be. In general this could be 10g/kg bodyweight of carbohydrate to load yourself in the few days before the event. This is usually best done through low bulk energy drinks and bars, with a normal athletic diet around that. This means wherever you go make sure you have enough bars etc. to keep you fuelled. You also need to ensure you are electrolyte loading as well as staying hydrated (The two must go together). It is better that you need to be near a bathroom for quick "pee stops" than it is to be dehydrated. Make sure you are taking on electrolyte drinks or salt tablets with plenty of fluid. If you are unsure on how much you should be taking, we suggest taking a look at our partners in Precision Hydration to see how much you should be taking. Only if you are in a very hot location, it may be wise to buy a set of throwaway scales. Not to get your absolute weight, but rather to see how much change in weight you have before and after sessions to see how much you are sweating. This can help you realise just how much you need to stay on top of your fluid during your event and avoid you dehydrating come race day. Again, as with all things nutrition, you need to keep an eye on what works best for you and you should have been practicing before hand at lower key races and in training!
At the end of the day, the main thing in the run up to your race is that you need to remain unstressed. You have done the training, you know what you need to do, you know what you signed up for (when you did), so as long as you focus on the moment, what you can do (see above) then you will be setting yourself up for a fantastic race. Trust us when we say, no race will go perfectly, so be prepared for the fact that you will have some hurdles. In the mean time though relax, and enjoy the experience!