What to Do When Things Go Wrong at an Ironman

After standing on the sidelines of Lake Placid and Louisville this year, I am reminded of two contradictory things. First, how easy my job is. Second, how important it is that I am there. My advice ranges from the profound to the mundane, but on race weekend, it's always timely.

But what do you do when a Coach can't be there at the bike mount line or at Mile 18 of the run? Here are some tips on how you can bring a little Coach P along for your next race.

Almost all of my advice will revolve around helping you make a decision you are most comfortable with. Ironman is a long day and you have to have confidence in what you are choosing to do. So side with comfort and you'll be okay. Here are some common pre-race questions and concerns I hear from the Endurance Nation athletes.

Should I use those fancy race wheels for Sunday's race?

If you haven't trained with them in the last few weeks, or weren't planning on doing it, I usually say NO because it adds a new total level of stress to the day that's not necessary.

More: 3 Easy Ways to Ruin Your Race

My leg, hip, back, shoulder or arm hurts; what should I do?

Get thee to the ART tent (massage tent) and have it worked on?daily, if not two times a day. The resource is free, so stretch out your problem areas, baby them. Also, make your family carry/do stuff. You should have alternate plans in your head should the problem not go away on race day.

I broke, fractured or tore my whatever; what should I do?

A lot of bad stuff happens in the 14 days before the race. If you have seriously injured yourself, and racing could place you or your fellow competitors in more danger, I will tell you not to race. You can go, spectate, support, and register for next year. You can find another event in a few weeks. I just don't see the allure of doing an Ironman at 50 percent capacity in a seriously injured state. I will defer to you, but I don't recommend it.

Common Swimming Questions

My goggles just got bumped off my face! Or, my goggles are fogged up, now what?

Just keep swimming freestyle, and on one of your strokes roll over into backstroke and keep kicking as you adjust your goggles. Swimmers are looking for bubbles, not for swimmers sitting still or worse, doing the frog kick. Make bubbles, get right, and get back to swimming.

More: 6 Worst-Case Scenarios for Swimmers and How to Avoid Them

I swallowed a lot of water on the swim; how can I fix it?

If it's salt water, you'll want some regular water at the swim exit or T1 to help dilute the mixture in your gut. Regular water will (hopefully) just come out with excessive peeing.

My calves or hamstrings are cramping; how can I resolve this?

Slow down and ease up on your kick. Try to isolate and relax the muscle, or provide alternate tension. If your calf is cramping you can flex your toes and foot up towards your knee. Try to keep your rhythm with your arms and figure out how you can adjust your stroke so you don't have a flare up again. Worst case, find a kayak.

More: Dave Scott's Advice for Foot Cramps During the Swim

My wetsuit zipper just broke and there is no time for warm-up; what should I do?

Don't worry. Fix the zipper and then just start swimming. The swim is the warm up?a few minutes lost fixing or getting a new wetsuit just won't matter in your whole day.

What should I do if I have a panic attack?

Find a kayak. Or don't start swimming. You are your own worst enemy on the swim, so if you are prone to panic, make sure that you have resources nearby.

More: Secrets to a Successful Ironman Swim

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