So, you're doing an Ironman?

Whether it’s your first or your tenth, clicking the enter button for an Ironman is ridiculously nerve wracking. First of all it’s a lot of money to spend on a hobby. But let’s be honest, swimming 2.4 miles, cycling 112 miles and then running 26.2 miles is pretty bonkers-even many professionals will tell you they still think it’s crazy!

However, once you get into the swing of training over winter, slowly but surely, your confidence builds week on week. Gradually, the idea of being able to cover the distances becomes more plausible.

That is until about ten days out from race day, just as you’re getting excited, those little voices start to creep into your head, questioning your sanity, making you doubt your ability, your kit and your body.

Having recently witnessed this first hand as a Race Force Race Host at Ironman Copenhagen, I thought it would be useful to share some top tips for doing a long distance triathlon abroad.

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  • Use your nervous energy: It’s good and it’s natural to feel nervous ahead of a race, it shows you care! But when the nerves become crippling, that’s when you need to have a word with yourself and try to turn any negative thoughts into positive ones! Think about how you will deal with different setbacks during the race. Channel your nerves into excitement instead of worrying about not getting a particular time or finishing in a particular position. Try to think back to why you started triathlon in the first place, quite often it’s for a bit of fun, so embrace that feeling.

  • Have some you time: If you’re surrounded by fellow nervous athletes then their doubts may rub off onto you, so make sure you have someone around you who can think straight, keep you calm and talk about something other than jellyfish, rain, punctures and swim-bike-run!

  • Remember you’ve done the hard work: Come race week focus on getting to the start line in one piece and as well rested as possible. If you don’t do a final bike recce or you can’t get a swim in because you’re travelling or you’re not allowed on the course, don’t panic, it won’t make or break your race.

  • Learn the Basic skills: If you’re worried about getting a puncture, then teach yourself how to mend one. Or get your friendly mechanic to show you. Practice it every so often until you’re confident you know what to do if you get a flat on race day.

  • Have a Nutrition plan: You can’t blag nutrition when it comes to a day-long race. Plan your strategy ahead of race day and make sure you pack the products and food you and your stomach like and you’ve used during training.

It may be colder than you had expected

It may be colder than you had expected

  • Eliminate as much stress as possible. I’ve raced abroad and taken my own bike on the plane. And I’ve travelled as a customer with Race Force. I know which experience both me and my nerves preferred! When it comes to logistics, plan ahead. Make things as easy as possible for yourself, from ensuring your bike arrives in one piece and mechanically sound with Race Force, to choosing accommodation which isn’t a nightmare to get to. You’ve got enough to worry about!

  • Know your kit: Download my FREE Race Day Checklist. Print it off and laminate it, then keep it your triathlon box, bag or drawer so every time you do a race, you can tick the items off as you pack and you know you’ve not left anything behind.

  • Pack for all conditions: You can’t control the weather, but you can certainly prepare for it. So when you are getting your kit together pack all options, just in case the weather turns out to be vastly different from what Google predicts. And remember it’s out of your hands and everyone is in the same boat.

  • Remember your team: If you’ve travelled with your own cheerleading squad just take a quiet moment to thank them for being there for you not just on race day, but also when you’ve had meltdowns about training or you’ve snapped because you’re shattered. I’ve supported at an Ironman and I’ve raced a few. Although it’s hard to believe until you’ve done it, supporting all day is knackering too!

  • Don’t despair: If you didn’t have the race you had hoped for, assess where it went right and where things went wrong. Then take some time to chill out, rest properly and switch off from triathlon... Before looking up the RaceForce calendar for the following year and getting booking on!

If you’re a novice or improver or you’re looking to do a middle or long distance triathlon next year and you want some coaching or guidance then get in touch. I offer 1-1 coaching, training plans and mentoring.

Helen MurrayComment