Five Tips to Prepare for the Ironman World Champs
Patrik Nilsson is currently preparing for the Ironman World Championships in Hawaii – it’s the first time that the athlete of the BMC-Etixx Pro Triathlon Team is competing in Kona. The Swede, who finished third at the Ironman European Championships earlier this year, gives us an exclusive insight into his training. Read his five top tips on how to best prepare for the Ironman Kona as a triathlete.
1. Get used to the different climate
My final block of training will take place in Texas before travelling to Kona 10 days before the World Championship. The reason we have chosen Texas for my final preparation is that here in Texas you will find temperatures and humidity very similar to the conditions in Kona. Acclimatizing to the heat is a crucial aspect in my preparation to World Championship in Kona. One of the key reasons this is so important is that my body “will learn” how to sweat a lot whereby the body is able to keep the core temperature under control in very hot conditions. Secondly training in similar conditions as in Hawaii, allows me to continuously test and train my nutrition and rehydration plan in race like conditions. Nutrition and rehydration are absolutely key during the race in Kona and here in Texas it allows me to practice and train my nutrition strategy almost in identical conditions. If you were to train in colder circumstances, almost naturally you wouldn’t be drinking the same amounts that are absolutely crucial and needed in Hawaii.
Finally there is also the importance of adapting to the time difference. There is a time difference of 12 hours between Europe and Hawaii which can have a big impact on your body if you don’t allow sufficient time to adapt. By travelling to Texas for my final training block it allows me to bridge a substantial part of the time difference already, which should allow me to better adjust and adapt to the time difference.
2. Familiarize yourself with the course - especially on the bike
Already weeks in advance, I have been, together with our sports director, analyzing and looking at crucial points on the bike course. As it will be my first participation in Kona, preparation is key. It is crucial to generate full awareness of the key areas and crucial parts on the bike course and understand the importance of positioning yourself at the right place at the right time.
3. Nutrition is key
Due to the challenging conditions in Kona, your nutrition strategy is absolutely key. Here are some general guidelines in terms of my nutritional strategy for the World Championship in Hawaii.
- Before the race I will take 1 gel and 200ml water 15’ before the swim start.
- On the bike I will be taking a gel immediately in transition from the swim to the bike. During the entire bike leg I will be aiming to drink a total 1l/hour by drinking Isotonic and additional water at the aid stations. I will strive for a carb uptake of 75 up to max. 90g/hour which will be a combination of gels and bars. In addition it is crucial to take the right amount of sodium as well. The totals on the bike for a 4h30 bike ride would be 4,5 x 750ml drink bottles with 2 scoops of Isotonic, 1.5l water, 3 Energy bars and 4 gels.
- During the run, although more difficult than on the bike it’s important fluid, carb and sodium uptake stay high during the marathon as well. Drinking 1L each hour is of course more of a challenge while running but as athletes we need to try to get in as much as possible and comfortable. It’s recommended to slow down the running speed slightly when running through the aid stations to facilitate drinking.
Gels are by far the preferred carb source in the marathon and bars are not on the menu any longer. Most athletes will take up at least 3 gels an hour with regular intervals of 20 – 25’. Often one of the gels each hour contains 80mg of Caffeine. It’s recommended to drink (+/- 200ml) water immediately after each gel.
4. Have your bike checked in Kona
Leading up to the race my BMC Timemachine will be completely checked over and serviced by the mechanic to have the bike in optimal condition at the start line. In cooperation with BMC’s head of technical support and our sports director key decision will be made on the choice of wheels, gearing, tubulars and bottle positioning.
5. Do some specific bike training
As the bike segment during the Ironman World Championship will play such an instrumental part in the outcome of the race, I have focused intensely on my biking this year. I have spent a lot of time optimizing my position this season. I have also worked very specifically and did a lot of training on the Tacx Neo Turbo trainer, for example riding the actual Hawaii bike course. It has allowed me to really visualize the race many times before and focus on the details while I do my training. It also has been a huge motivation booster during my bike training sessions on the turbo trainer.