Today’s topic is: Race Day Planning! Specifically when it comes to IRONMAN racing.
Having just completed Ironman Mont Tremblant one month ago, I’m familiar with planning for a race day. For IMMT, I had goals and expectations, but not a set ‘Race Day Plan.’ My several months of consistent, focused training was my plan… I just had to execute it on race day! And of course, I had some ‘ideal’ split times in mind.
Here are some tips for planning your race day. Most of these relate specifically to an Ironman, but you can apply them to almost any race as well!
Set realistic goals for race day
Be true to yourself… know your limits and what you are capable of. It helps to go by previous race times and set goals from there. I also found it helpful to look at my long bike rides and runs to get an idea of where my heart rate was. I used this as a parameter for my race day. Keep training data and monitor your racing and training ‘averages.’ For example, my longest training ride was done at ‘Ironman heart rate’ i.e. Zone 1 for 100 miles… my pace was 18.5. I knew that I would not be able to go MUCH faster than this during the actual race , especially with the Marathon at the end.
Treat the Ironman like a long training day
The Ironman is not meant to be an all out race, by any means. I went into IMMT thinking of it as a very long training day.. this took the pressure off it being a BIG race! I raced just like I trained and this set me up for a happy, comfortable race all around.
Know your heart rate zones and stick to them as best as possible
For the Ironman, this typically means staying in Zone 1 (for me that’s 130-140 bpm on the bike and 140-150 bpm on the run). Before my Ironman, I asked my coach what the effort should feel like, and he said it should feel like a 4/10 perceived rate of exertion at all times. I really focused on that 4/10 during my race and did regular check in’s with myself. If I felt I was higher than a ‘4’ I backed things off… same went for if I was lower than a ‘4’ I pushed it a little harder.
Every race won’t always be a PR, but you can sure as hell try
To be honest, I go into a lot of races wanting to ‘PR’ I mean.. who doesn’t?! Everyone loves a PR! However, know that you can’t always PR… there will be races that are slower than you wanted them to be… and that’s ok!
Things can and WILL go wrong… prepare for it.
Whether it’s fixing a flat tire, drastic changes in weather, dropping your nutrition, etc… plan for it! I made mistake of not wearing my arm warmers during the bike ride at IMMT. I paid for it and I was freezing for the first 30 miles. Ask yourself what you will need in case of emergency on race day.
Consult a Coach
I can’t emphasize enough how much it helps to have a coach for an Ironman, or any long distance race. Coaches can help you not only with training, but with race day execution! I don’t have a 1 x 1 coach (I wish!) but I have a coach that gives me my training plan and provides feedback to any questions I have… this is what is critical for race day prep!
What are some ways you prepare your race plan?!