Preparing for the Ironman World Championships was always a massive undertaking, not only for me, but more importantly for my family and friends. Recognizing the inherent pressures of traveling, preparing for the event, and family personal commitment, having the perfect race can be difficult. However, you can easily relieve the anxiety barometer by controlling a few Ironman variables.
So here we go with 20 Ironman Hawaii pre-race tips:
- Anxiety and a bit of self doubt are normal—for amateurs and pros alike. Decide what you can control on race day. Your nutrition, breathing, pace, bike cadence and running stride are all within your power. The heat, humidity and wind aren't. Channel your thoughts as you tell yourself to be smooth and efficient, and accept the cheers from spectators.
- Write down three words that describe your physical state or skills during a perfect race. Read them daily.
- Memorize the course, making a mental map of both the difficult and easy sections.
- The start of the swim is challenging. Concentrate on slow inhalations, and exaggerate your roll to allow for a longer breath.
- Look at the sky when inhaling, not your competitor's swim caps.
- Occasionally alternate sides when breathing to relax your neck and shoulders.
- Sight with the right tower of the King Kamehameha on your loop back to the swim finish.
- Do not over-stride when running up the exit ramp after the swim. This abrupt movement can "grab" your hamstrings.
- Don't guzzle your fluids in the transition or try to stuff down any leftover breakfast in search of final calories. Replenish in moderation.
- On the first little incline—Palani hill, about a mile into the ride—stand up for a few pedal strokes. Stretching your back and legs is a good idea early in the race.
- Five miles into town and eight miles to the airport are difficult. Settle in to a rhythm as you pass the airport.
- Maintain a steady, fluid, caloric intake following the first 15 to 20 minutes of the bike. Avoid taking in too many calories too early! On the first hour on the bike, consume 15 to 30 percent less calories than in each of the remaining hours.
- Humidity is higher through town at the outset of the run. Anticipate possibly drinking more during the out and back section.
- Concentrate on short strides to begin the run.
- Palani hill is steep! Remember to breathe and take little steps.
- Divide the run into segments to make it easier to conquer mentally.
- The Natural Energy Lab is hot. Surprisingly, there is less wind to cool you on the descent and ascent back to the Queen K Highway. You may need to increase fluid intake.
- Limit your walking time. A slow shuffle is faster than walking.
- When you feel good in any of the three legs, go with it! Pacing is important, but racing is the objective.
- You are going to have a good race—you just don't know how good until the race unfolds.
This check list should help enhance your months of preparation and make for a positive Kona experience. Good luck!