Taper and Race Prep

In my opinion it is important to not overlook the mental component of training and racing. Positive mantras can go a long way in your race. Find ones that work best for you.

My blog articles with components related to motivation

What does it take?

After reflection from Ironman St George I have identified a number of core Ironman Training principles that I feel that are important:

First endurance anchor type workouts – in preparation for Ironman I think you need at least three long continuous swims of 4500m or greater, three long bikes 6 hours/180km and at least two 32km plus runs in the last 2 months before the race. These are critical to mental preparation and confidence and in building the endurance base. Beyond that I also feel a number of 3-4 hour rides with an hour or longer run brick session is also critical. None of these need to be intense and can be done at IM heart rate.

Second intensity based workouts – I feel that some longer and harder rides in the 60km range is key for me as well as a few swims that you go out hard to model the swim start and then learn to settle in to an appropriate pace

Third, unique workout considerations – Nothing has bothered me more than facing something at the race I wasn’t used to doing. As a result I feel some bike workouts need to be on rough roads, forcing myself to stay in profile and wherever possible riding in more extreme both hot and cold conditions. Through all of this maintaining good form on the bike and the run. Weights and core have become more important to me as a result of this. Where possible a few practice races that can match the coarse are nice as well.

Finally for me getting enough sleep and removing unnecessary distractions is a big part of a good preparation, along with ensuring no large breaks in the planned training cycle.

In addition to some general principles which I think apply to most everyone I have some specifics that are key for me personally:

- Really focus enough on fluid intakes, The longer I stay hydrated the better I am and also keeping my weight as low as possible.
- Second time on a course I am so much better so for me doing races in consecutive years works well
- With my knee the way it is practice, train and race in my knee brace and do technical work to help keep the knee good
- As I am aging I need to bike now at 125-130 HR and run under 140 to be effective in races but I need to train at 5 bpm above that
- Also with age and knee I need to max my long run at 35km to keep healthy and use more water running with bricks as the terra firma run.

To sum it all up I like one of the slogans on the Ironman Australia T-Shirt below:

Beyond the mental part there are a few basics in your preparation. Periodization, a good taper and a well prepared race gear list all count for a lot.

Training Plan Periodization
There are a couple of models of periodization but one of the most common models is a 3:1 week cycle in which the rest week includes up to 3 days completely off.

Similarly there is a periodization of hard:easy days and in triathlon it is easy to think you can go hard each day as long as it is in different disciplines. Current knowledge is that its better to go two hard workouts in the same day followed by an easier day instead of one hard workout on consecutive days.

Racing and Training Plans for Triathlons
A couple of links to ironman training plans that have given me food for thought

Minimalist Ironman Training
Coach Gordo
Heart Rate

An important part of any race preparation is the tapering or reducing of workout volume leading up to the race. As a general rule of thumb any endurance specific training within the last two weeks before the race is ineffective and may, in fact, be counter-productive. In that second last week you can have some limited fine tuning with speed workouts as long as you have adequate rest, reduced workout volumes (60% of regular volume or less) and long breaks between interval sets. Make sure you also stretch sufficiently. In the final week leading to the race your workouts should be limited to 30% of your regular volume or less and focused on range of motion, stretching and technical drills. The key is not to cram in extra workouts in close proximity for the race, cramming for races just does not work so don't do it.

A good taper link Dave Scott taper program

If you are traveling for a race it is key to know how much time you need to setup without feeling panicked. I personally like having lots of extra time to set up leisurely and then take some time to meditate and/or decompress. If flying I like to have critical gear in my carry on baggage. With ever changing rules on the airlines that is getting harder so having an extra day so if you have to buy something before the race is a good safety precaution. I often will wear the back-up shoes on the plane - just in case.

Ironman Race morning preparation list

Stretch and put in contacts
First set of race bottles out of fridge
Sunscreen on before trisuit and again before wetsuit on
Body glide everywhere
Transition out of the traffic areas in the change tent

Ironman Race week preparation list

Cut nails 7 days before race
Register at end of the registration period (less line standing)
Use color identifiers on your transition bags if you can
Strategically package your bento box
Pre-label all your gear
If no change tents go trisuit, if change tents consider a full cooling/compression top and changing shorts between bike and run

Triathlon Race Checklist

Bike Pump
Body Glide
Pre-race Food
Spare Bag
Old Shoes
Warm-Up Pants
Warm-up Shirt

Swim cap
Wetsuit Booties
Wetsuit Hood/Beanie
Race Chip
HR Monitor Strap

Bike Helmet
Bike Shoes
Bike Short
Bike Shirt
Race Belt and Number
Water Bottles
Emergency Glasses
Tire Levers
CO2 cartridges / Bike Pump
Spare Tubes

Extra Socks
Running Shoes
Long Sleeve
Salt Tabs

Special Needs
Salt Tabs
Sweater (if Run)
Spare Shirt (if Run)

What to focus on during the race

Effective use of Aid stations
Keep the shoes dry
Focus on technique
Re-apply sunscreen
Salt tabs