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Train your race day weakness
I guess I will volunteer some info for the crowd. Today I raced the Vineman 1/2 IM in Santa Rosa, Ca. I trained through it to some degree as I am prepping for IM Canada. My goal for the day was to really push the bike and see if I could hold on for the run. I was pretty successful overall and averaged the most watts ever for a 1/2 IM.
-->The point is that you can have very specific goals that are process oriented rather than place oriented.
For your next race, think of your race day weakness and execute a plan to turn it into a strength.
Long course nutrition
No matter the distance of the event, even pacing is the key to a strong day. Starting conservatively to steady and building your effort allows you finish strong. In my opinion the biggest limiter for most athletes in long course racing is their nutrition. No matter how fit you are, if your nutrition goes sideways your race will be compromised. Not only should you practice your nutrition during your rides, but you need to practice it also at race pace.
I recommend starting with around 250 to 300 cal/hr and getting that via liquids, gel and even bars. Liquids and gels are easiest to digest, so if you use bars I recommend using them early on when you can digest them better, then switching to mostly liquid and gel calories. Mix up the flavors as well to avoid palette fatigue.
Follow your RPEMore words of wisdom! For your 1st Ironman I recommend going mostly by RPE. Certainly use your HRM/Power Meter to monitor your effort, but your RPE will be your best guide. This is especially true as the race goes on. By the time you hit the run you are experiencing cardiac drift and it's all about finishing strong, not hitting a certain HR, Watt or pace.
A successful marathon means a good day on the bike
In an Ironman, the marathon run is a function of your bike pacing. Those athletes that pace themselves well on the bike usually can finish the day with a solid run. Those that got a bit carried away pay for it down the line. Think about the finish line of the race, not the finish of the bike!
I hope my recommendations help you in your training. Train hard and train smart!
USAT Level 1 Coach
"My coaching philosophy can be summed up in two words: listening and balance. By combining these two elements I feel I can help each athlete achieve their full potential."