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Ironman Week DOs & DON’Ts.

The week leading up to a race is what we refer to as “race week” which depending who you are can mean calmness and relaxation or stress and anxiety.

Having wroked triathletes for the past 16 years has helped me to have a running list of things you should and shouldn’t do on the week leading up to a big event. This can be applicable to any distance, but it’s particularly more important the longer you go (hence the title) and it can help you reduce the stress/anxiety.

DOs:

  • Nail your taper. Don’t do too much nor too little, just do enough each day to keep the body feeling good/rested and the legs “bouncy”
  • Check the weather forecast a day or 2 before to plan accordingly as to what to wear, transition bags, etc.
  • Check all of your gear ( wetsuit, bike, sneakers, etc.) to make sure everything is ready to rock.
  • Your bike should be tuned-up, clean and race ready as early as possible. That way if you need to change anything, you’ll have plenty of time. And a clean drivetrain = free speed!
  • Have an execution plan (pacing and fueling). It can be flexible based on conditions and race day challenges, but a plan will better prepare you to perform at your best.
  • Do a mental race rehearsal. Visualize your execution plan and run through a best, good & worst case scenario. By rehashing this in your mind, you will know how to react if any of this occur on race day.
  • Enjoy the low key training! You have done a lot of work, it’s time to relax, enjoy quality time with family/friends but embrace the laziness.
  • Do race registration and check-in days early. That way you can enjoy the race vibes without spending too much time on your feet or around anxious athletes.
  • If traveling or you’ll spend time around crowds, keep your diet clean, stay hydrated and favor anti-oxidants to help your immune system stay strong to avoid an ill-timed cold.
  • Do some carb “loading” – start 2 days before. No need to go crazy, just add 1-2 extra servings total to your regular everyday diet. The best window for extra carbs is during breakfast the day before the race!
  • Electrolytes – consume foods with plenty of calcium, magnesium, and potassium throughout the week. There is no need to overdo Sodium. Just add a bit extra to your meals the day before the race.
  • Fluids – just stay hydrated the day before. You can’t load, you’ll just be visiting the bathroom often if you drink too much.
  • Smile and have fun. Use this low key week to thank all those who have supported you through your journey (family, work, friend, etc)
  • If dealing with an injury, continue treatment and rest! It’s better to be as healthy as possible before the race starts.
  • Remember your WHY. Why did YOU choose to race? Whatever the reason, it’s what’s fueling your all the way to the end!
  • Believe in your training and yourself. Whether you think you can or can’t, you are right!

DON’Ts:

  • Don’t do panic training. The work is done, you won’t get any useful fitness for race day now.
  • Don’t “race” all your taper workouts. Tapering is meant to dial in your body feel and muscle tension. You must do enough to keep it right but if you “crush” all your taper sessions, you risk peaking too early or accumulate fatigue and have flat legs. Save the best for race day!
  • Don’t panic if you have lethargic/flat legs on the final days before the race. The taper sessions will help to get the “happy” legs ready on race day. Just adjust each session as needed.
  • Don’t get a last minute massage. Unless you get one regularly, a sports massage too close to the race can throw off your muscle tension and leave you sore.
  • Don’t obsess about the weather (water temp, air temp). You can’t control any of that, you can simply prepare for it.
  • Don’t complicate your race bags. KISS it (keep it simple stupid). For the bike/run bags just bring the gear you must have to perform. The special needs bags only pack stuff you may need in case of emergency. Otherwise, you won’t need it to perform.
  • Don’t ignore your bike equipment. An Ill-timed mechanic failure can end your day and even hurt yourself.
  • Don’t wing it with your pacing/fueling. Many fit athletes waste months of training by poorly pacing (especially the bike and early on the run) or by not having a fueling plan.
  • Don’t spend too much time at registration, check-in, expo walking around and on your feet for many hours. You need to rest!
  • Don’t go crazy with carbs all week or the night before the race. Each familiar food, add a bit extra but don’t overdo it.
  • Don’t go crazy with the sodium. Among other things, it can lead to inflammation.
  • Don’t stress about others. Simple stay focused on your own race, and don’t get too caught up in what other people are doing. More so through social media. Focus on preparing for YOUR day!
  • If injured, don’t force any training. Rest will be your best chance to start and complete the race.