"how tos"
race schedules
event reports



Make Ironman a Success!
By Tom Demerly

You've put in the miles and done the training. Now it's time to focus on the race. These tips will help you get through an Ironman, whether it's your first or your tenth.

Make a race plan.

Write out a timeline to understand what will happen when. Be ready with a "plan B" also.

On a big piece of paper draw out a time line representing the entire event. I make mine like the profile of the course, just like they do for the racers in the Tour de France. On the time line make notes at the appropriate locations about what you will eat when, where it will come from, projected times, etc. It is critical to race with a plan. Going into the race not knowing what to expect is a major source of anxiety and waste of valuable energy especially for new athletes. Plan your work and work your plan. At the same time it is important to be flexible. If your plan doesn't work out perfectly it is important to be adaptable and have a plan "B" or "C". What will you do if you miss your special needs bag pick-up on the bike?

Rehearse your nutrition plan.

Know what you will eat and when you will eat it from training.

Be sure you rehearse your nutrition plan with the exact foods and drinks you plan to use in the race. Practice using the things provided by the race at the aid stations. Can't stand Powerade? Too bad, you better use it in training if that is what they are using at the aid stations. The aid stations become your "Plan B" if you miss your special needs bag. You may miss a bag pick-up or your special bottle and have to rely on the aid stations more than you thought.

Try using Enervit Enervitene.

The secret of Tour de France cyclist: Enervitene makes gels obsolete.

Perhaps the most revolutionary nutritional product for endurance athletes since water. This stuff is incredible. It has made energy gels obsolete overnight. Enervitene is a highly concentrated liquid calorie source that packs 480 calories of primarily simple carbohydrates in a calorie dense 2 ounces of fluid in an easily carried (an opened) package. You would have to carry over 5 oz. of thick, gooey, harder to digest gel to get the same calories. Try Enervitene (from Enervit in Italy) before race day. Becasue Enervitene is a liquid (not a thick gel) is digests much faster and has longer lasting effect. It is likely you will never buy another energy gel. Enervitene can also be used mixed in a bottle of water to make a powerful energy drink, enhancing its versatility. When you hit an aid station on the bike simply dump a "cheer pack" of Enervitene into a bike bottle of plain water and you have a 480 calorie, 16-20 oz. sports drink.

Make lists and be organized.

Write everything down. Develop a checklist mentality. Leave nothing to chance.

Prepare an equipment checklist. Sew the little reflective thingys on your race clothing well before race day. Be sure you have adequate spares for your bike. Buy extra swim goggles. Get all your energy food before hand- it will be sold out the week of the race. Pack ahead of time. Using a checklist and developing the checklist mentality will ease your mind on race day. It helps to transfer concern and anxiety, getting rid of the "Did I forget something?" feeling that drives athletes nuts.

Don't try anything new on race day.

Practice with your race belt at least two weeks before race day. Get used to using new equipment well before race day.

If you haven't done it in race preparation, don't do it for the first time on race day. Practice everything you'll do in the race prior to race day. Try on what you will wear. Be sure your food fits in the pocket. Be sure the energy belt you use will not rub you raw while you run. Race day is not the time for trying anything new.

Know how to change a flat and assemble your bike.

Be responsible for basic maintenance. Know how to assemble yur bike and spot problems.

Nothing is more tragic than wasting months of training over a flat tire. For the price of an inner tube and a couple CO2s you could save your race if you've practiced changing flats. Bikesport offers classes in changing flats. Take one if you are unfamiliar or unpracticed at it. You should be able to change a flat tire in well under 8 minutes.

Learn how to do basic assembly of your bike out of the flight case. Don't rely on mechanics at race locations. They are often over-worked and unskilled at servicing race specific bikes. They also may not share your enthusiasm for the event or understand how important it is your bike works perfectly. It is best to be your own mechanic.

Get your bike tuned up- really tuned up.

After months of long training rides your bikes needs a lot of TLC. Get a real tune-up and replace ALL wear components before race day.

People bring bikes to us before Ironman and say "It just needs to be looked at quickly, it seems to be fine…" These bikes frequently need replacement of wear components such as tires and chains, cables, brake pads, etc. We frequently find cracked stems, rims and frames. You need to allow for enough time for these items to be serviced, repaired or replaced. Don't wait until the last minute. You should have a major tune-up two weeks prior to the race and another check-up before you leave for the race.

With all the time, effort and money you put into preparing for your race losing the entire day over a $4 cable or a $35 chain is a waste. Get your bike checked out thoroughly by someone who understands how to prepare a bike for an important event.

Visualize your race.

Set aside time to visualize how your race will develop in a quiet environment
. Mental preparation always pays dividends.

Athletes often say the worst time are the few days and hours before the race itself. The training is done and you just want to get going. This time can be nerve-wracking. Stack the odds in your favor by mentally rehearsing your event in your event. When uncertainty or concern over how the race will go begins to surface go to your race plan on paper and in your mind. Remember your plan, memorize it. If you spend enough time concentrating on visualization and do it effectively the race will seem as though you've already done it on race day.

It is important to set aside time specifically to do this mental preparation. Find a quiet place with no distractions. Practice concentrating on your entire race plan from start to finish. Almost all athletes ignore it and pay a price without even knowing it.

Listen to your body and don't panic.

1500 athletes and only 15 of them aren't worried. No one feels 100% ready on race day.

If you talk to 1500 athletes the morning of Ironman 1485 will tell you they don't feel like they've done enough training. Remember, it is better to be under trained than over trained. Don't change your training at the last minute, even if you don't feel it was adequate. It takes the body a long time to recover from a long workout, but even longer to assimilate that training and experience the adaptation that makes you stronger. Remember, you are not looking for just recovery- you are looking for improvement. If you are super hungry the week before Ironman, eat. Don't put on eight pounds (unless you need to), but eat what you need to so your energy is adequate and your body can adapt.

Do what works for you.

You came here for a reason: What is it? Getting in touch with why you put yourself through this can get you through the tough times.

On the day of a huge event like Ironman it pays to go back to the reasons you became an endurance athlete. Everybody who has completed an Ironman before you has advice (like this!) and words of wisdom, but doing a race (or ten) does not qualify them as a coach. Ultimately, you have to do the race on your own. Your motivation needs to be clear. Why are you doing this? What attracts you to it? In the eleventh hour when everything hurts you better be pretty clear about your motivation. You'll need it. Return to your roots as an endurance athlete to get you through.

In the 24 hours before your race be sure your environment is the way you need it to be. I don't like to be near anyone, especially other competitors. I don't like to talk to anyone, I don't even want anyone touching me. I just want to think about what I have to do on race day, check my equipment, walk the transition area, rehearse my race plan in my head and on paper and stay focused for the event. Some people need the support of others before race day- be sure the right people are with you if possible. Make your surroundings and environment the way you need them in the important 24 hours before the race.

Never give up.

Sometimes the race deals you tough blows.
It's what you do with them that determines your quality as an athlete.

Endurance sports are a microcosm of life. Tough times don't last, but tough people do. Learn a lesson from Lance Armstrong, Mark Allen, Bernard Hinault (5 time Tour de France winner) and Paula Newby-Fraser. All these athletes have faced adversity in endurance competition. All of them have risen above adversity through their inner resolve and strength. The biggest reason finishing Ironman feels so good is you know at some level you did it on your own. It all came from inside you. When things are bad during the race remember they will get better. They always do, it's the law of nature. You're never beaten until you quit. If medical reasons dictate abandoning the race, well, they have the same thing next year. Come back and kick its ass.

In the grand scheme of things, very, very few people can ever consider attempting an Ironman distance race. Even starting is an accomplishment. Good Luck!

© Tom Demerly, Bikesport Inc.
Site Designed and Maintained by: Intuitive Business Solutions.