With just under four weeks to go to the big race I’m just starting to feel the tingles of a few nerves, and I imagine that will only get worse! So I’ve been thinking about a few taper DO’s and DON’Ts for the final month (based on my sum experience of ZERO Ironman races!):
- DO sleep – a lot! My standard 5-6 hours a night won’t be enough to stave off the lurgys. Ideally I’ll get to bed an hour earlier and use the reduced training hours to sleep in an hour later.
- DON’T get sick! The body is tired after all the long training hours and now there’s the extra stress of the impending race. When I start to ease off for the taper, the body will be ripe for illness. I managed to get a cold two weeks before my half ironman. Not again!
- DO eat healthy. Well, I’m never going to actually eat healthy, but I’ll make the effort to throw in an extra carrot and broccoli when I’m cooking the kids dinner and eat those; and hit the Vitamin C tablets!
- DON’T leave my race on the training field. A bit of cliche, but a real possibility. As I start to ease of for the taper, I should find my body raring to push things a little harder. I need to make sure I only do controlled short, hard intervals. And it’s probably best to stay away from any bunch or club sessions because I always push harder than I plan to at those.
- DO write a race-plan. The race-plan will detail exactly what I want to do on the day – my pacing, my nutrition, my goals for each section, what I need to do at each transition, and the timetable (covering the day before the race, the morning of the race, and then during the race itself). Writing a race-plan will make me think through how I’m going to do each part of the race. So there should be no surprises. During race week I’ll review the race-plan each night. Feeling prepared = less stress! (I’ll publish the race-plan on this blog once I’ve written it up).
- DON’T overanalyse. There will be a temptation to start scouring the Net for information about the race. That could lead to a whole lot of great sounding ideas that will muddy my preparation and put doubt in my mind about whether I’ve done enough and what I should do. The training is done – no good can come from thinking about that anymore. I need to stay away from all that crap, skim the forums and KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid).
- DO spend quality time with the family. I’m leaving them behind for a week to do a pretty self-centred activity. We’ll all need to load up on cuddles and snuggles, and family time will be a welcome distraction and stress reliever in the build-up. And I’ll try not to talk about the impending race all the time!
- DON’T change stuff. Now is not the time to buy new shoes, switch gels, put on new cleats (OOPS! blew that one already) or change any of the things I’ve been doing in training. I’m sure the course will be littered with broken athletes who’ve made last minute changes. Train with it, race with it!
- DO think about bike transportation. Bike box? Bike bag? What will the airline allow? DO I need to ring them the day before? What will they charge? Does the bag/box need to fit in a taxi/car at the other end? Can the bike fit in the bag/box? What tools are required at each end for assembly/disassembly? Tape? Padding? Pump? What spare parts? Race wheels? Aero helmet?
- DON’T throw in any catch-up training. There’s no point trying to get fitter for the race now. Extra training will just make me more tired on race day. Training needs to be about reviving the flogged muscles and priming them for race pace. I need to think: “How will this session make me race better?”
- DO write a gear-list. This will detail exactly what I will wear during each part of the race, what I need to wear/carry before the race, and what I’ll need after the race. A single A4 page that I can check the night before, the morning of, and take down to transition. It is an absolute joy to not have to worry about whether you’ve forgotten anything because you have a gear-list. Liberating! (Again, I’ll publish the gear-list on this blog once I’ve written it up).
- DON’T make up bullet points just so you have an even number of Do’s and DON’Ts!
- DO have some post-race goals. Apparently people can get the post-Ironman blues after building up to something so big for so long. I’ll line up a couple of races to do in the following months and have a training plan ready to kick in once I’ve recovered from the race (maybe 2-3 week later? – I honestly have NO idea!)
- DON’T spend all night blogging instead of sleeping….
And for those fellow parents amongst you, a few helpful Baby DO’s and DON’Ts: