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Ironman Langkawi: Final Prep and Raceday Guide to Malaysia

Race Day

What equipment to use:

SWIM:

No wetsuit swim means either you swim with a speedsuit and your trisuit underneath, or you go only with a swim suit and get changed in transition. Don’t use slow trisuits, especially the ones with pocket for this swim.

BIKE:

Go with a vented helmet, the comfort of airflow in a 40 degrees heat is worth the minute or two an aero helmet will save you. Take all your calories on the frame of your bike, NEVER behind the seat as you will lose it (aka bottle launchers). Make sure you have at least 3 bottle holders on you.

RUN:

Consider taking a water bottle on the run with you and refill at the aid stations, the extra hassle and weight is nothing compared to the comfort it will give you by having water on your at all times. A hat can be useful at aid stations to put some ice inside. Also throw ice inside your top and shorts.

Race Day Mindset

Stay Confident

Maintaining confidence in your training and race strategy in the final days before Ironman can be a challenge. As soon as you arrive at the race venue you bump into all those sponsored athletes walking around with the latest equipment, showing off their lean and vascular legs. Such sights can be quite intimidating to the first timer or beginner athlete. Remember “before a race everyone looks like a champion” – don’t let this hurt your confidence. Race day is a different story.

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Another common thought on race week is: “I should have trained harder!” – You have already done the best you could. Perhaps you had to take a week off training due to work, family or health issues but those are situations we all face. Every single triathlete on the start line of an Ironman had to overcome some sort of challenge during their preparation so don’t worry, you are not alone.

Rational vs Emotional

Keep your emotions in check on race day: don’t let them take over your race strategy. Adrenalin released in the first few hours of the race, with the type-A and competitive personality of each triathlete, plus the fact that everyone is well-rested and tapered is a perfect recipe for disaster.

The main mistakes happen in the cycling leg, especially during the first hours, when athletes are excited and forget a very long day is only just beginning. As a result, people start to race each other or just ignore their nutrition plan.

Another common mistake that results in an emotional, rather than a rational, approach is after a setback such as a flat tire or a penalty is that athletes tend to “make up for it”. Don’t. Stay calm and be patient in those situations instead. Ironman is a long race and you can slowly, over the next hours, catch up on the missed minutes. Please do not try to do it within the next 60 minutes.

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Positive attitude

it takes between 8 and 17 hours to finish an Ironman. That is a lot of time for everything to go as planned, especially considering the myriad of factors the athlete can’t control. It is very likely that something will go “wrong” at some stage during the race.

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After I wrote an article about the mental attitude towards the race day challenge last year, several athletes came to talk to me after finishing their Ironman and mentioned that already in the swim leg their race wasn’t going as planned: they couldn’t see the buoys and went off course.

Ironman is all about overcoming obstacles. The challenges start with your training routine, how you manage your work and family commitments with those long sessions that take a lot of your time and energy. The training is 90% of the Ironman experience and is the biggest challenge. Race day is only the celebration of getting to the start line. You will still be tested during the event, be it physically or logistically, but with your Ironman determination you will find a solution and make it to the finish line.

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