IronTips is back for 2017 and each week we are going to give you our expert advice, regarding preparation for your Ironman triathlon training.
This week we're kicking off with 'The Long Ride', here's our key points:
1. You need to ride over 100 miles on a regular basis. On race day you will have to ride 112 miles and have enough energy left to run a full marathon. Anyone who tells you that 80 miles will be far enough in training is most likely making themselves feel better because they don't want to ride further than 80 miles either. If 80 is your longest ride, on Ironman day you will still have AT LEAST 2 hours of extra riding to go in uncharted territory, to complete the full 112 and then you'll have to run a marathon. Does that sound like adequate preparation?
2. If you're struggling to complete rides of 100 miles, it's because you are riding too hard. The answer to this problem is simple: If you normally ride at 16mph, then slow down to 14mph if you have to, but complete the distance. Don't try to justify riding only 60 miles by saying "but i rode it hard". Slow down (ride on your own if you have to) and spend 7 hours on your bike, so you're mentally and physically ready for race day.
3. Don't slip into slow plodding by becoming overly focused on distance and endurance. The above point regarding slowing down to cover the distance is very important, but your other rides during the week MUST be harder. By completing a high intensity interval session or similar, your Ironman pace will feel so much slower and more comfortable by comparison. If you only ever ride slow, you will become slow and slow will become hard.
4. Ride at a constant intensity and learn how to do it now. The biggest mistake you can make is to attack the hills and then recover on the down hill and flat sections. Large fluctuations in your heart rate burn a lot of fuel and you'll suffer later in the race. Slow down on the hills and hold a similar heart rate for flat sections. You'll need to learn it in advance, it's not as easy as it sounds and needs a lot of practice!
5. Stop blaming nutrition, it's your fitness and your pacing which is to blame. I get tired of people who struggle to ride 100 miles and struggle in Ironman, pointing the finger of blame at nutrition. "If only I'd nailed my nutrition" or "I got my nutrition completely wrong". It's really important to understand that NUTRITION IS NOT A MAGIC WAND. If you struggle and slow down, you've gone too hard and your fitness level is not capable of maintaining that pace, it's not your nutrition and nothing you eat will lead to a miraculous recovery in pace. You need to understand that fact NOW or you'll do the same again and scratch your head wondering why your nutrition was wrong again. Your fitness and pacing are 95% responsible for your performance and nutrition is responsible for the other 5% at most. It's the nutrition companies job to make you think those stats are the other way round.
6. Ride on your own and be specific. A lot of people are at the stage of riding 80-100 miles with a group and generally with a cafe stop. Whilst there's nothing wrong with that approach initially, you are going to have to get more specific in the final 8 weeks.Get used to riding long, get over the 100 barrier a few times, then switch to specific in the final 8 weeks.
You need to ride alone, with no cafe stop and use your race bike / position / fueling / pacing strategy. Use the group to get up to 100+ miles, then start to integrate some solo rides. Your mates won't be there to keep you company and shield you from the wind on the day.
There's still plenty of time to make a difference before your 2017 Ironman event, so integrate these changes right now!
If you'd like more help, we offer coaching services for as little as £40 per month, including sports science testing. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.