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First Ironman? Some Race-week Mistakes to Avoid

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Often raceweek-mistakes are made that can have significant impact on race results.

For an event like the Ironman, training is done over many months and possibly an entire year. Endurance is built up over a long period.

There is nothing you can do in the week leading up to the Ironman that is going to increase your endurance.(apart from resting)

Yet it never fails. Every ironman I’ve ever been to you see people out on their bikes hammering out a 70 mile ride 3 days before the race. Or else they’re out doing a 12 mile run in the blazing heat! Go figure.

Or there’s some who will go out and swim the entire course about 3 times that final week.

All they’re doing is burning valuable energy that cannot be replaced before the race. It would make more sense to just lay on the couch that last 7 days. They would be further ahead.

If you are not physically ready for the race when you roll into town, there is nothing that will save you in that last week.

There are plenty of ways to taper before the big race. How about Kim Bushong’s famous “TV Taper.” He claimed he sat around for three weeks prior to Ironman ’82 ‘ and watched TV and ate chocolate bars. He led for the entire bike leg and wasn’t caught until 10 miles into the run.

Though this is not recommended for everyone, it worked for him.

I would suggest that with 3 weeks to go, you do not increase intensity or distance of training. Decrease the actual time you spend training, but keep the intensity at your normal level.

I wouldn’t recommend doing any weight workouts within 10 days of the big race.

If your race is on Sunday your last hard work-out of any type would be on Tuesday. Remember, no long distances at this point. Wednesday and Thursday are recovery days from your last work-out on Tuesday. No high intensity or distance of any type. Maybe an easy early morning swim before breakfast or perhaps a easy 30 minute run.

Friday is your complete rest day(not Saturday as many people tend to believe). No biking, running or swimming.

Saturday, the day before the race, spend 15-20 minutes on each event. No more. This will loosen muscles, increase circulation and help shed any excess water retained from a few days of inactivity. This is “important.”

Take the time to look over your bike one last time before you check it into transition for the race. Make sure brakes are fine, gears are shifting properly and computer is working.

Don’t make the mistake of getting wrapped up in what everyone else is doing in that last week. Don’t feel you have to go out and swim the entire course on Friday before the Sunday race because someone else is.

Go in with your pre-race plan and stick with it regardless of what everyone else is doing. Remember that there is lots of excess energy building for everyone and some people can’t handle it. Just relax and stay focused with the firm belief that you worked hard for this day and deserve this final easy week.

Follow this simple plan and you’ll be rested and ready for the start gun on Sunday.

My name is Ray and I’m a veteran of 20 years of endurance events including over 30 marathons and 14 Ironman Triathlons. I’ve created a site full of training and racing tips that just might help make your Ironman dream come true.

The name of my site is “Ironstruck”

The address is

I can also be contacted if you have any questions or comments.

My contact page is


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  • Posted On September 29, 2006
  • Published articles 283513

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