Race week brings on all the feelings of excitement, anxiety, and everything in between! In honor of the IRONMAN World Championships on Saturday here are 5 basic race week tips.
Race Week Tip #1 - Sleep!
Get Plenty of Sleep, period. After training for an endurance race like an Ironman (or marathon), you want to get at least a few extra hours of sleep the week before and especially two nights before the big day. Find a hotel or Airbnb away from airports, amusement parks, and hot spots. Most of all, practice going to bed early. Staying up late every night except the one right before your race will ensure a night spent lying awake in bed thinking way too much.
Race Week Tip #2- Swim the Swim, Drive the Bike, and Bike the Run.
If possible, we recommend familiarizing yourself with the swim, bike and run course in the days leading up to the race.
There was an especially enchanted part of the Ironman Muskoka bike course we call the groundhog hay day. Why? Because somewhere around the 40-mile mark, when you take a tight turn and bomb down a fairly steep hill. It can best be described as a groundhog play day, you get surprised by hundreds of small mounds built up all over the road. That knowledge in hand, I wasn't caught off guard when all these mystery objects popped up in the middle of the road during the race.
Race Week Tip #3- Never Try Something New Before the Race or On Race Day.
Don't even think about switching to a new type of running shoe, race supplement for your nutrition and hydration, or pre-race diet. The best thing you can do is the exact same thing you have been doing in the weeks and months leading into the race.
When your friend suggests trying the new Indian restaurant down the street, just say "no thanks," make yourself a peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich and call it a night. After the race feel free to go nuts and try all the amazing restaurants in town.
Race Week Tip #4- Visualize Victory!
The week before your race, find 15 minutes each day and get yourself into a quiet place with no distractions. Try to remove all the daily clutter from your mind and visualize the race.
See yourself in the water swimming with a strong and steady stroke. Visualize yourself running out of the water and putting on your helmet, biking shoes and sunglasses, and heading out onto the bike course.
Did you notice what just happened?
Completely forgot to visualize removing the wetsuit. That's why you do this, so that on race day you know exactly what you will do and how you'll do it. It's a lot easier to go back to transition for gel in your mind than it is to do it in a race!
Race Week Tip #5 - Chill!
Probably the best thing that you can do before your Ironman or any race is just chill out. Whether it's your first Ironman or your 10th, many athletes get caught up in the moment.
There are a million different things that can go wrong; most easily solved. That's just part of the Ironman package you signed up for a year ago. When these things happen--and they certainly will--take a deep breath and chill.
You have trained countless hours and given up mornings, lunches and weekends to be there, but freaking out before the race won't help. Save that energy and adrenaline for the race. You can buy almost anything at the typical Ironman Expo. Doctors are standing by, along with bike mechanics and race officials, ready to sort out these problems! Take a deep breath and simply chill.
Happy training and race on!