Well, it is Ironman week, with many athletes, their families, and friends getting very excited, and nervous!, with the arrival of the big day.
I think Ironman is unlike any other triathlon and if you have witnessed the finish line, either competing or spectating, you will know exactly what I mean. Is it the number of people, the music, the people covered in salt or the announcer?? I don’t think so.
I think the thing that makes this day unlike any other, is the emotion that is sparked by the finish line, which is a symbol of the whole Ironman race day and the year or more of preparation it has taken most people.
It symbolises the early mornings. The hours and hours of training. The Dream that the competitors and their families (usually) signed up for 1 year ago. The healthy eating. The missed social activities. The money spent on the whole process. The emotional roller coaster that athletes go on. The tired days at work. In a nut shell, that line symbolises the SACRIFICES that each and every athlete and their families have had to make in order to cross that painted white line. And while you may only know a handful of people at that finish line, whether you are watching or competing, you feel las though you share something in common with everyone there. Like a big family (as cliched as it sounds!) I feel this is why the Ironman is almost a total different sport to any other.
To those athletes who are racing this weekend, enjoy it. It will be over before you know it. Enjoy the nerves and the preparation of the week. Those nerves are totally normal and in some ways a good thing for the day. Try not to get caught up too much in the hype of the race however, as you wil be tired by the time the day comes.
Don’t over eat. It is a common mistake for the inexperienced. Eat normally and towards the end of the week, slightly reduce your fibre intake. When you reduce the amount of training you are doing, your body will naturally store the carbohydrates that you would normally use to train. It is NOT necessary to increase your intake to ‘Carbo-Load’, as all that will happen is that extra will turn to fat and is also likely to leave you feeling heavy and sluggish come race day.
Otherwise do most other things like you would normally – this is not the time to change anything that you do day to day (sleep, fluid, eating, habits) just because it is race week.
Be prepared early in the week- check your bike, check the list that you have got everything. This will greatly help to keep the stress levels low as the week progresses.
Visualise the day and prepare mentally for things that may (and often will go wrong). I tell athletes to develop a mental list of things that may go wrong during the race: flat tyre, hunger flats/bonking, penalty, losing nutrition etc. Then think about what you would do if this did happen. This will GREATLY help in the race if any of these do happen, to not panic and deal with the problem at hand and then mentally move on, rather than dwelling on it.
Make sure you take the time now to thank those around you for their help during the preparation, as nobody could do it on their own and Ironman athletes are notorious for taking this for granted!
The Ironman will be one of the greatest and most significant days of your life, so make sure you enjoy the journey, as it is the journey we all train for day in day out.
Have a great week and all the very best for the lead up and for the big day on Sunday from AP10!