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Thursday, June 25, 2015

Ironman Racing - Key To Reaching Your Potential

Maybe we should start by not calling it a race.  There are very few athletes that actually race this
thing - but even folks like Lionel Sanders have to pay heed to some basic principles.

In my 7 years of Ironman racing and countless interactions with Ironman athletes through nutritional consults and race planning, I have been exposed to some incredible insights.  Along the way - I have heard this:

"Ironman racing is all about conserving energy and nourishing your body optimally through the swim, the bike and the first half marathon so that you are in the best possible shape to run your fastest second half marathon."  Those who run the second marathon closest to their full potential will have the strongest overall finish.  This is really hard to do mentally - often we are trapped pushing the bike pace early on in the race with all the excitement, and rarely does this end well.  My coach for years, Richard Pady used to guide us at the Lake Placid training camps to ride the first loop conservatively - he would tell us to find an easy gear and then go with one easier than that for the first half.  On the second loop, we would look to stay there, he always said the hills are much higher on the second loop. Unfortunately - Perception is Reality!  Close to equal splits is best on the bike.

Yesterday during a nutritional consult and race planning session we were talking about heavy legs and quad muscle cramping.  Almost always when this surfaces it is related to athletes ratcheting the intensity up a notch during the race.  Again Rich's advice to us was that on race day we could never do something that we didn't do in training.  This is true on so many fronts.  One area is that, as we increase our intensity we also increase our sweat rate or fluid loss.  If we were doing a bottle an hour during training at a good, long bike intensity and then our intensity level increases dramatically, now what worked in training with respect to fuelling, may be suspect.  It is really important to know the intensity that you plan to race at and fuel optimally in training for that intensity, so that you can repeat this for race day.  It is important to avoid the temptation to be a hero on the bike - be a hero on the second half of the run. It is so motivating passing all those who haven't at the end.

Race the way you train and reach your true potential.

- Darcy Haggith, President, Infinit Nutrition Canada