By Richard Woolrich Biokineticist (BSc Med (Hons) Exercise Science (Biokinetics) UCT 2014 PT of the year
With less than a week to go, here are some guidelines for the days leading up to and including the big day!
I never usually advise any of my athletes to have a complete rest day the day before an event. Instead it is better to rather have your rest day two days before the race. The session the day before should incorporate short, easy workouts with some bursts of high intensity in two to three of the disciplines. These short bursts are short enough not to cause any muscle damage and fatigue but instead will ensure optimal muscle firing and recruitment. These sessions can be performed on the race course to help with familiarisation, but make sure you abide by the rules stipulated in the Athlete Info Guide regarding where and when you are able to use the course. A cycle is also important to make sure your bike is in working order and ready for race day. Try to get your cycle in first thing in the morning so if there are any problems with your bike, you have enough time to sort it out.
Examples of high intensity efforts you can include in your session the day before the race:
- Swim – include 5 x25m sprints at 80% intensity with 30s rest between
- Cycle – include 4 x 1min pick-ups at 80% effort in a hard gear with 2mins easy cycling between
- Run – include 4 x 15sec hill sprints at 80% effort with 1min walk recovery between
Before you leave for Port Elizabeth, pack your bag methodically so that you don’t forget anything and you know where everything is. Use the Athlete Info Guide as a checklist to make sure you have not forgotten anything.
On race day make sure you have a light breakfast consisting of something that you are used to and comfortable with about 1-2 hrs before the start of your race.
Ideally try to do a warm-up in the sea before you start. This will help you mentally and physically prepare your body for racing as well as for the temperature of the water, so that you can get into a rhythm more quickly. There is a designated warm-up area to the right of the swim start.
My top tips for each leg of the race:
- Swim start – I would recommend trying to avoid starting in the middle of the pack, unless you are a fast swimmer and back yourself to have enough speed to get out of the masses. It is often better to start on the side with a more clear line to the first buoy. If you breathe to the right, I suggest starting on the far left (and vice versa) so that you can see the majority of the pack when you are swimming. This will help ensure you don’t swim off course. Some people may feel more comfortable starting at the back of the pack where they can avoid most of the chaos. This is often a better option so that you don’t get kicked, knocked around and swallow sea water which can lead to stomach cramping later in the race.
- Follow the feet in front of you – Remember that swimming in the bubbles of the swimmer in front of you, will reduce your overall effort and help keep you on course without you having to lift your head as often.
- Keep swimming until your hand touches the ground, then you will be able to stand up and exit the sea.
- Nutrition – The bike is the easiest discipline during which the body is able to take in and absorb nutrients. It is thus important to start eating as soon as you get on the bike and consistently during the cycle leg. I usually advise my athletes to consume an energy gel during the final couple of kilometres of the bike leg to help fuel them for the first part of the run leg. Remember that you are not only fuelling yourself for the cycle but also for the marathon where it is more difficult to consume the same concentration of carbohydrates due to the impact of running.
- Cadence – keeping a high cadence of about 90rpm is especially important if it is windy on race day. Often athletes try to grind out a big gear into the wind which will fatigue your legs and negatively affect your run.
- First few kilometres -Avoid getting caught up by the cheers of the crowd and starting too hard. Start slow and build up during the race. See if you can run the second half of the run leg faster than the first half.
Cadence – once again this important on the run as well. Keep focused on maintaining high cadence throughout the run, especially as fatigue sets in.
Good luck and have fun!