Ironman: Are you ready for your long-distance triathlon?
Are you really ready for the Ironman and have you done enough? Fear not says, James Pryke of Triathlon Coaching UK, these doubts are perfectly normal...
Within the final weeks of training in the lead up to an Ironman, many athletes will begin to ask themselves 'Am I ready for my race?' This is a question that's not just specific to the Ironman distance, and it’s completely natural to evaluate how well-prepared you feel prior to a race of any distance by reflecting on the training you've done. Athletes will ask themselves questions such as: 'What are my fitness levels like?', 'Am I at my race weight?', 'Could I have been better with my dietary habits?', and, crucially, 'Have I done enough training?'
Have I done enough training for an Ironman?
The truth is many age-group athletes go into an Ironman-distance race feeling that they haven't done enough, and will base this feeling around their typical hours of training completed per week and comparing this to what they read on social media – endless posts detailing high-volume sessions and big blocks of training!
Of course, sufficient training volume is important when preparing for an Ironman. You need to have spent enough time building the endurance that you'll need to complete a race of this distance. But training volume can't be the only factor that determines how well prepared you are.
You may well have been hitting your target of 20 hours of training per week, but how effective has this training been? And have you been able to balance this training stress with sufficient recovery? Has your training been specific in preparing you for the demands of the race? Has there been progression in your programme over time and through the different stages of your programme? Has there been sufficient variability in your training, including working across a range of intensities to help ensure continued physiological adaptation? Have you managed to distribute your training load effectively across each week and each block of training to facilitate effective recovery between sessions and help to ensure that you're as fresh as possible for the high-priority sessions in your training programme?
It’s not just about training hours per week, and an athlete who has consistently completed 12 hours per week of well-executed training balanced with effective recovery will be better prepared than an athlete who's been hitting 20 hours per week of simply ‘going through the motions’.
It's time to stop worrying
The fact is, when you're in the final weeks leading up to your race, there’s little to be gained by worrying too much about whether or not you've done enough, or in fact, what you could've done differently to be better prepared. You've done what you've done and it’s far better to focus on ensuring that the final stages of your preparations are executed as well as possible to ensure you have the best possible performance on race day. So go do the race, then evaluate!
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