10/9/17

IM Kona race week - Mistake #1

DON'T CHANGE THE WINNING FORMULA


Almost every athlete that competes at the Ironman World Championship has received a spot to the starting line by performing well at a qualifying event. Rarely does an athlete earn a spot to this notable triathlon event on a whim. The triathlete who qualifies for IM Kona typically invests a lot of time, money and energy into the craft of preparing the body and mind for a 140.6 mile event. Thus, it's the commitment, consistency, flexibility and goal-focused mindset in training, along with the understanding of the right gear, nutrition, mental skills, pacing, training and taper that contributes to athletic excellence on race day. This is the winning formula that helps an athlete qualify for the Ironman World Championship. 

Far too many athletes enter race week in panic mode and begin to change the winning formula. Rituals that once helped an athlete build confidence for race day are replaced with worry, fear and self-doubt. Sure, the Ironman World Championship is a big-deal race but if you think about the distance, it's just another Ironman distance triathlon race. While you should certainly respect the distance and the island, don't abort the approach, method or formula that worked for you in the past. While it's ok to change certain aspects of your gear, nutrition or pacing plan to better manage the course or conditions (ex. ventilated helmet, depth size of your wheel, etc), it's not ok to change your plan because you think you'll be faster, perform better or because you saw that someone else (top age grouper/professional) was doing something similar.

As you enter race week for the Ironman World Championship, don't get distracted by focusing on what everyone else is doing. Be attentive to your own needs and do not make drastic/extreme changes as it relates to what worked for you in the past::
  • Fueling/hydration plan
  • Pacing strategy
  • Taper training
  • Race morning routine
  • Sleep regime
  • Daily diet
  • Daily rituals
  • Mental skills
  • Gear/equipment 
Avoid the tendency to change what was familiar to you in an effort to try to gain the competitive edge.

Additionally, any last minute strategies to feel more race ready, like validation workouts to test your speed, watts or fitness, taking anti-inflammatory or other performance-enhancing medications, getting a cortisone shot, relying on ART or other body-manipulating therapies to heal a niggle/injury or trying to manipulate your diet in an effort to change your body composition can be extremely damaging to your health, not to mention your performance.
Sometimes change is good and even on race week, you may find that you need to be smart with your nutrition, gear/equipment and training. You don't need to reinvent yourself on race week in an effort to perform your athletic potential.

Trust your coach. Trust yourself. Trust your training.