Y'all heard that Dr. Dre song from Compton? Game Time. It's a good song. Listen to it.
Game time is where Team Unicorn Sparkle Adventure member Mat "One T" Provost finds himself. T-6 days before Matty Mat Mat laces up for his first ever 70.3 distance Ironman. We're here for you buddy!
As with all new comers, nerves, questions, panics, are all present. So while we help Mat offline, we wanted to share some of Mat's tips online! What race are you running in 6 days? I have no doubt you feel all the jitters we all do. Fun huh!? Hopefully this gives you some help too!
Let's get to it:
Sorry Mat, but this is it. 6 Days out there is no possible way to improve your fitness. There are many possible ways to deteriorate your fitness. Overtraining and injury being the most likely. Illness and STIs being less likely, but not wholly impossible, so just stay safe and .....uh yeah stay safe.
But what does that mean. That means that with all the demons saying "do more runs, do more swims" you must give them a big middle finger and tell them to piss off. Because there's nothing more you can do. Instead, mental focus is going to be your challenge. Rest, stretch, meditate, and visualize. That's the task, your body needs to heal.
There are two types of nutrition pre-race. The nutrition leading up to the race, and the nutrition for race day. Both equally important. Neither so drastically important however that you should make significant changes or freak out. Eating is the easy part (pretty much).
Just do what you know. Don't change up your diet. Increase your salt moderately, increase your hydration, increase your calories, decrease your intake of spicy food, decrease your fibre intake, resist anything that makes you bloat or makes you poop (too much).
Your pre-race goal is to be "topped up" but, remember, you're not a camel. You can't take 16 burgers worth of energy with you. Instead, manage your portions, eat a big dinner the Friday before your race, and eat consistently throughout the day Saturday. You've got this remember!
Get your ass out of bed early! Sports drink, sports drink, sports drink (if you've decided to drink sports drink). 3am easy meal. Bagels with peanut butter and honey is a personal favourite. Choke it down and hydrate. Back to bed with you. Wake back up and sip drink until you pee your pants and then just keep sipping. There's a reason the sidewalk is wet at the start of the swim but no one has been in the water yet..... It's okay, Mat. You can do this! Maybe bring flip flops....
3. Race Plan
You need it. You need to visualize how you execute for two reasons: First, it will help you execute better; second, it will make things easier to recover from when something goes wrong.
Here's a few simple goals to keep in mind.
1. Start the swim slow. 500m in, do a reality check. Are you tight? Are you breathing to hard? Do you know where you're going? If the answer to any of those is no stop, readjust, and move on. If you have to grab a canoe, do it. No shame in that. 500m you should be warmed up and in your groove so if you're not, you probably won't be there by 1000m, and you'll be way off your game by 1500m. Find your grove by 500m or make adjustments.
2. Swim exit. Go slow. Don't fall down. Don't cut your feet. And don't cramp. It's really easy to cramp taking off your wetsuit. Don't do it
3. Bike start - First 30km. Your only job is to hydrate and eat. Go slower than you think. Drink more often than you think. Let people pass you, you'll catch them later. If you are thinking about going fast you're not focused on the right thing. Get your body fuelled for the many miles ahead of it. Speed will come later.
4. Bike - 30km - 60km. Hammer down only if you can manage it. Keep a close eye on your heart rate. If it spikes, back off. Keep your hydration up. Better to be 5% under in effort than 5% over in effort. Don't kill yourself on hills. Don't go too easy on decent. Stay even.
5. Bike - 60km - 90km. Back off on the nutrition ever so slightly. You don't want to be bloated of the run. Keep you pace up if you can manage it, back it down if you need to. Trust your numbers, don't try and out-eat your fitness level. Exhaustion and hunger can feel the same at first, but they are not the same. Adjust on the fly and visualize the run.
6. Run - First 10k. Keep a bottle with you if you can. Sip, don't chug, and evaluate, evaluate, evaluate. Do you need sugar? Do you need salt? If you're head hurts you probably need both. Resist the urge to walk at all costs. I know they say it makes you feel better. It doesn't. Better to drop the tempo but keep the gait because when you walk once you'll be tempted to walk more and more. Keep your technique up here. Squeeze your butt. Long torso. Forward lean. Breathe easy.
6. Run - Last 10k. Survive it man. Caffeine and whatever else you need. Get angry, get sad, get emotional, get whatever, just hammer.
7. Run - Last 1.1km. Do not walk this. Unless your leg has fallen off. This is your victory lap. Earn it all the way, every stride should be a fight. You can rest after this.
You've got this. Keep your expectations in check, your mind fired up, and your body will carry you through. Dark places will happen, embrace them. They will carry you through. All this on your quest to be called, Ironman.