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Ironman Langkawi: Final Prep and Raceday Guide to Malaysia

Race Day Nutrition

While very personal and something that should have been tested in training several first, there are some basic guidelines that are never too far off from an ideal fueling strategy:

Carbs

First rule is, do not eat anything for the first 15min on the bike, only plain water. Then minimum of 1g of kg per hour on the bike and 2/3 of that on the run. Maximum is 50% more of the above number. For example a 70kg athlete will need 70g of carbs or 280kcal per hour on the bike and 52g of carbs or 210kcal on the run. The max would be 105g of carbs per hour on the bike and 75g on the run.

Water:

Aim for 700ml to 1000ml of liquids per hour

Sodium:

Aim for ~1g of sodium per hour, you may need to supplement with salt tablets. Your gel and calorie mix will also contain some sodium, account for that.

Related: Ironman Malaysia – New course review

More nutrition guidelines:

If your mouth feels dry, pull back on the sodium and calories and add more plain water

If you mouth feels watery, add more sodium and calories

Race Day Pacing

An ironman race is all about “who slows down the least!” – In fact, until you are on the last 10km of the run, you shouldn’t be feeling you are going ‘hard’ at any moment. If you do, especially on the bike, its guaranteed you will bonk and be forced to a very slow run.

I like to use perceived effort from 1 to 10, 1 being very, very slow to 10 being maxing it out, to help my athletes pace themselves during long events. The below guidelines will make your pacing strategy efficient and minimize the chances of bonking:

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Swim:
First 400m or so (first buoy) 4-5
Then pick it up to 6-7 until the end

Bike:
First 15min 3 (yes, you read that right, very, very slow)

Then to the 60km mark, 4-5

60 to 120k, 5-6

120 to 180k 6-7

Run:

First 1km, 4 (just find your legs)

2-14km, 5-6

14-28km, 6-7

28-42km, 7+ – At this point is likely you will either be feeling in control but already in a lot of pain, then just hold onto your pace until the end, pick it up a little if you can. OR you may be struggling a little, increase the effort to hold your pace.

Related: Ironman Malaysia 2015 – Best Photos

Run Walk protocol, a strategy for beginners & intermediate athletes

Whenever I start to work with an athlete for an ironman race, the first question I ask myself is: “all going relatively well, am I 100% sure this athlete will able to run the run?” – Unless the answer is a very convincing YES, I get him on a RUN:WALK protocol.

This means for every so many minutes of running, there is a minute of walking. The usual numbers is 10:1. But what are the benefits of this strategy?

In training it means fewer injuries. Faster overall running. Faster recovery to other workouts. Enough benefits already.

In racing, it means that we avoid “bonking” on the last third or so of the marathon. The problem is that once you are forced to walk the run, your “perfect” race goes out of the window, and the pain will be so much that you shift into “just want to finish” mode and walk with your head down, without a plan to follow. But instead if walking is part of your plan, you can still hold that “perfect day” mind set until the end, this will give you extra strength and you will be able to tolerate the pain better.

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Picture the two scenarios below:

 

Athlete 1 tries to run it all.

He holds an average of 6’/km for the first 21k, then drop to 6’30/km for the next 11km, then bonk and walks (with a few jogging tentative that don’t go well) the last 10km at 4kph = 4h48’ Total Marathon time 2h18’ running + 2h30 walking

 

Athlete 2 is on a run walk protocol.

He can run at 6’/km but with 1min power walk, it brings the average down to about 6’12/km. He passes the first 21k mark, just over 4 minutes behind athlete 1. Then overtakes him at about km 31, and finishes the run in 4h20 – a good 28min ahead of the athlete who bonked.

Types of run:walk protocol

For beginners: Set your chronometer and ‘lap’ it every 10min and 1min, also walk every aid station for fluids.

For intermediate athletes: You can walk the aid stations only if you have an half ironman run time of below 2h. Start walking 50m before the station and walk another 50m past. This lowers your hr and makes sure you absorb it all

Biggest challenge for both strategies is EGO – from the example below you will see most people ahead of you on the run and it will feel ‘stupid’ to walk while everyone else is running and there is the supporters too (am I going to walk in front of my family/friends? ;-)), but trust me, things changes rather quickly at an ironman and once you are forced to walk, it’s too late. Better to build that insurance of an extra quarter of a minute slower per km.

 

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