Ironman 70.3 Vietnam – Last minute advice, avoid race day mistakes

Ironman 70.3 Vietnam is ready for its second edition this coming Sunday, May 8th. Over 1.000 are expected in Danang, among them some of the world’s best such as Caroline Steffen, Luke McKenzie, Tim Reed, Tim Van Berkel, Sam Betten, Beth Gerdes, Radka Vodickova, Liz Blatchford, Dimity Lee-Duke, Cyril Viennot.

Some of the Pro's racing in Vietnam
Some of the Pro’s racing in Vietnam

Race Day mistakes

Little mistakes an athlete can make in those final days that can derail months of good consistent hard work and sacrifice. The first thing you must understand to avoid these mistakes is knowing that race day is not much different than what you are doing in training, you wont go much faster or much slower, no magic final preparation, or equipment will provide you that much gain, so relaxed and know that the work has been (or not) done and there isn’t anything else to do about it other than enjoying the race. The main mistakes are:

a.Equipment

A classic example is athletes complaining of a bad back yet never experienced in training then report to lowering front end as they saw pics in race magazine and everyone looked much lower than themselves therefore must be faster.

Peter Reid multiple time Hawaii champion even managed to make this rookie mistake at Challenge Roth – seeing the set up of the bikes of his competitors he changed to a behind the saddle water bottle before the race and had a little difficulty getting on his bike resulting in a few falls as he could not jump on his bike the way he had always done in training – it may look funny but could have resulted in a serious injury and ruined the event for Peter, luckily it did not effect Peter in this day.

So remember, no new shoes, no new bike fit, no new trisuit, no new goggles, no new nothing!

b.Nutrition and hydration

This is one of the biggest issues I see and one of the biggest causes of mysterious race day cramping in athletes that never seem to experience cramps in training. Through media and the influence of sports drink manufactures we have been led to believe we need to hyper hydrate the day before a race and the morning of a race. At any event you will still see many athletes walking around with bottles and drinking every couple of minutes – you will normally see them standing outside the porta-loos flushing away all their body salts perfectly preparing them for major race day cramping.

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Our bodies are very good at preserving salts but if you flood the body with huge amounts of water or even electrolyte drinks when its not needed you will leach body salts out of the muscle. If you want to increase salts and hydration it needs to be a long term gradual process during race week and make sure your taking the salts in during and immediately following any exercise which is when the body will be more likely to absorb. If your easing off training before a race, your body needs less fluid and salts not more – think of it another way if you train 20 hours a week and suddenly drop to 8 your going to need a lot less food not a lot more – same goes with fluids.

Liz Blatchford and Caroline Steffen at Ironman 70.3 Vietnam 2015
Liz Blatchford and Caroline Steffen at Ironman 70.3 Vietnam 2015

When it comes to nutrition and ‘carboloading’ This practice is great and has been shown time and time again to boost endurance performance BUT we can very easily get it wrong. Carbohydrate loading should be done in the 2 days prior to the race not just the day before with 1 big meal. Our bodies absorb carbs into the muscle most effectively immediately following exercise and more so following intense exercise. Following this knowledge our pre race big carbohydrate meal should be immediately after a training session with a little bit of intensity. I would suggest a session like this late morning on the day before a race including a short period of around 10 minutes at race pace – during this session take on board an energy drink containing calories not a electrolyte drink and then as soon as possible after the session get a good carb heavy meal consumed.

It amazes me how athletes tend to do a session like this and then eat a salad and consume a big carbohydrate meal later at night. Eating a carb rich meal late at night will increase blood sugar and trigger a stress response without the exercise, it will not lead to storage in the muscle but more a feeling of anxiety and make it very hard to sleep. My tip here is a big carbohydrate lunch immediately after your final pre race training session then a lighter evening meal and try to add in some medium chain triglycerides for enhanced endurance performance on race day – coconut milk and cream are a good choice here!!

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c.Pacing

Pacing and nutrition are critical on any race, especially long distance. Some mistakes I often see:

You change your strategy based on others: You see a training buddy overtaking you and decide to go with him as you know in training you are faster. But who knows what that athlete has in his mind? He could be on a kamikaze mission and both of you will blow up

Unrealistic goals: Most people don’t have realistic goals, they may combine data from their BEST workout done separately, without the stress of the race and the other disciplines combined together and the math here just wont add

Remember, race day nothing magic will happen, so stick to your pacing strategy and do your thing.

Have a great race and see you on the course.

By Alun Woodward, coach at ironguides.net

RELATED:

Ironman 70.3 Vietnam: Best Photos – Pro Race

Ironman 70.3 Vietnam: Course review

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