With only four weeks and four days left here is my advice for the remaining weeks of your preparation –
Keep healthy – Quality deep sleep, as well as enough sleep, a healthy and balance nutrition, recovery days, especially after a tough day or a few long sessions, keep hydrated during the day.
If possible get in two laps of the Ironman bike route under your belt before tapering or a similar profile bike course.
If you did the 120 miles last Sunday get on a flattish bike route this weekend and focus on a safe faster pace covering between 80 and 100 miles with a one hour brick run. The following week aim to complete one lap of the Ironman plus the Horwich triathlon loop (70 miles) with a one hour brick run.
Don’t play catch up – If you have missed a planned session or a week or two of training don’t make it up by throwing in the missed sessions on top of your planned ones.
Don’t take risks – Now is not the time to take risks. For example, doing a B or C event and treating it as your A race may result at best a high level of fatigue preventing you from preparing properly for your Ironman event or at worse an injury.
Nutrition on the bike – Time to nail this one.
Nutrition on the morning of the event – Time to nail this one.
Running – Aim to have completed a peak run at zone 2 for three hours of the Ironman course before tapering or a similar profile course. However, don’t, don’t suddenly jump your distance (10% – 15% rule). If you struggle with running mix it up with running, jogging and speed walking.
Nutrition on the run – Time to nail this one.
Open Water – If this is your first Ironman and you are not fully confident in the water get the full distance completed and if possible completed in Pennington Flash. The conditions in the flash are varied from day to day – some days very calm other when it can be quite wild. It’s worth swimming in a variety of conditions, so you’re not put on the back foot. Train for the worse and hope for the best.
Pool Session – Aim to get one pool session a week done with a focus on technique work. This does not have to be more than forty minutes.
Rehearsal – Rehearse your Ironman day in your head –from the early morning rise, having your breakfast, getting to the venue, preparing before the start etc, etc. Motivate yourself by imagining yourself crossing the finish line.
Focus on your weaknesses in a positive way while maintaining your strengths.
Have a Race Plan – Stick to it, trust it and only come off it in the last miles of the marathon if you are feeling good. Forget about those in front of you; they have a different journey and you may possibly be passing them later on.
Tapering – Have a tapering plan of either three or two weeks. I prefer a three week taper. Tapering is all about reducing your volume of training each week with an increase in speed.
BIKE – Service your bike three or two weeks before your event. Please don’t have it done three or two days before, as you will need to bed in a serviced back.
Niggles – During the final week before your event when you are tapering you may experience what I call phantom niggles. Don’t worry as this is normal but a pre-event sports massage will help.
Finally, remember “Your mortgage does not depend on how well you perform.” Just focus on being the best you can on the day while having fun with like-minded athletes.
Also, don’t forget there will be so many of your family, friends, spectators who will be cheering you on. After you have crossed the finish line take time to remember that none of this would have been possible without your family and friends, so celebrate big time with them post Ironman.