I was reflecting on the Lake Tahoe Training Camp experience and I came up with a few take-aways that might be of some use. No matter how you look at it, Ironman is hard. It’s a hard thing to get through.
1. Respect the elevation. Give yourself the time to adapt to the altitude. This means dial back your pace initially until you can find a rhythm that is sustainable. Especially in the swim. As an example, when I swam at my normal tempo for the first 100m in Tahoe, I felt a slight panic attack. Until I slowed my pace down and allowed my effort to match my respiratory rate, I could build into my normal swim tempo. Swimming too fast initially will be a huge risk factor for athletes at this year’s IM Tahoe.
2. Don’t be afraid to let your pace drift early on the bike. Dialing back your pace on the bike on the first loop will allow you to eat, hydrate, and stay in the moment. Our group road way too hard around the first loop of the Tahoe course. As usual we’re an excited bunch! How do I know this? I personally added extra miles on the bike. At 105 miles I paid dearly for the initial fast pace. Ideally we should have ridden the 1st 50 miles at a gentle clip, this would have allowed me to fuel up, keep hydrated and practice the golden art of patience.
3. I have learned over the years of racing to read my body. If I get grumpy on bike it’s a sign of low blood sugar – I should eat. If my thoughts start to drift it’s a sign – drink water. If I need to pee that’s good….I’m hydrated, wait until a down hill then stand on your pedals and AHHHH! Just make sure your good mate and training partner is not behind you when you do it.
4. Strength train– muscle damage will be your enemy on the run. Remember, Ironman is hard a day. The human body was not really designed to run the marathon just ask Pheidippides. You are going to run a marathon after 112 miles of cycling. Leg press, left and right lunges, ham string curls will help hold off the effects of muscle break down. And of course, do core work!
5. Visualize in small parts– I have a mental trick I play with myself in Ironman. I look at the day as small parts that add up to the finish. This is crucial on the bike/run. It’s the longest segment of the day. I ride to 25miles, always checking in with myself. Then 45-50-56 I’m half way. Then focus on my next task 60-65-70…until I see 112, awesome! I’m done with the blardy machine.
6. Same with the run- It’s not a marathon to me. It’s 6 miles, then 8. Then 10, I love seeing 13.1 that’s a half marathon. Then I want to build to the next mile and then 14, 15… 3 more miles I’m at 18 miles and near the finish. I love to see 20 because this means I’m even closer to the finish.
7. No-one will ever be able to take this accomplishment of crossing the finish line away from you. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever put myself through.
8. Manage your emotions. You’ll feel good, you’ll feel bad, and ever where in between. Embrace this and suspend judging your performance. “I am a great athlete. I am strong. I am doing this….”
Good luck to you all doing IM Tahoe. I’m already proud of you!
Leroy Thomas, Kain Performance Coach
Coach Leroy Thomas is originally from a town called Epping near Sydney, Australia. His favorite pastime is coaching adults and kids in sport. Coach Leroy has a B.S. in Health Movement & Leisure and Business Marketing. Coach Leroy was a Track and Field All-American and a Cross Country All-American, as well as the following major career results:
- Santa Barbara Triathlon Long Course Champion 2007, Open Elite, Santa Barbara
- Carpentaria Triathlon Champion 2006, 2008, 2009, Olympic Distance,
- Admirals Cup Triathlon Champion, 2007, 2008, 2009, Port Hueneme CA
- USA Duathlon National Championship 4th place Overall, 2008, Auburn CA
- 2007 World Triathlon Championships Hawaii, 10hr26min, Kalua Hawaii
- 2008 ITU Triathlon Championships Vancouver British Columbia, 9th 30-34, 4th USA
- 2009 ITU World Triathlon Championships Gold Coast Australia, 19th 35-39, 3rd USA
- Worlds Toughest Half Duathlon Champion 2010 Auburn California
- 2010 World Triathlon Championships Kalua Hawaii 10hr10mins