You've trained for six, nine or more months for this day. The chaos of the swim is gone, you've gotten your cycling legs back and now it's time to get to work, to get down to racing the Ironman bike.
For most triathletes, if you're going to booger months of training and ruin your race, you're going to do it on the bike leg.
Follow these tips to avoid that trap and ride your best Ironman bike leg.
#1. Set Yourself Up for the Run
The difference between a "good" swim or "bad" swim is only about two to four minutes. The difference between "easy" bike or a "hard" bike is only about 10 to 15 minutes. But the difference between a "good" and "bad" run can be measured in hours.
The truth is, your chances of dramatically slowing down happen in the last six to eight miles of the run. Therefore your focus all day is on creating conditions for success in the final six to eight miles of the run, NOT on putting up a sexy bike split. The Ironman run course is littered with the walking bodies of athletes who put up great bike splits. Just think about that.
#2. Ride the Bike You Should, Not the Bike You Could
Your "could" bike split is the one you dream about, the one you told your friends on your last long ride when they remarked how fit you look, how hard you've been working, and ask you what you could ride at your race. In contrast, your "should" bike split is the bike that sets up the run.
The difference between "could" and "should" is about 10 to 15 minutes. Add 10 to 15 minutes to that sexy "could" split and set up the run. If you've made the mistake of riding too slowly, you have 26 miles of running to fix that mistake.
But if you made the mistake of riding too fast, that mistake now has 26 miles of running to express itself.
#3. Do the Opposite of Everyone Else
The majority of the Ironman field doesn't know how to properly execute the bike. Proper Ironman bike execution is then largely a matter of doing the opposite of everyone else.
- Ride easy for the first hour. Are you being passed by a LOT of people? That's a very good thing, trust me.
- Manage your effort on the hills. Setting up the run is your priority, not racing for the non-existant $100 prize at the top.
Feel like you are going backward through the field? That's a good thing; they will come back to you somewhere during the day.