Photo by Dafydd Williams
Every so often we get triathlon legend and coach Mark Allen to share some of the most interesting questions he receives with all of you. This time around it wasn’t one question, but a series, regarding preparation for October’s Mecca of all races: Kona.
For all of you bound for Big Island glory this fall, thinking about the race now isn’t premature. As triathletes, committed to the sport, we know that’s how you roll.
Dear Mark, I have a few questions about Kona preparation. Think you can help me out? -Krazed over Kona
1. I was really sore from the the bike last year, I think because of the climb to Hawi. Do you think I need to step up my bike?
This is something that you may need to do, particularly the very high end sustained riding you get in a group ride or other longer efforts. These don’t need to be a weekly affair, but certainly in timely places along the way. You can treat these just like doing a short running race and replace your regular speed session with this type of effort, or during base just do a one every two to three weeks. The fast parts should be 20-45 minutes total, so with just slightly lower heart rates than you would do in a regular interval session, but still definitely anaerobic.
2. Is there a way to improve that situation by training differently?
For Kona I would ride hills now and then, and as you get to about 10 weeks out, start doing more long rides on flats and rolling hills where you can stay in the aero position. Also, pick hot and windy days to train.
3. I noticed that in Macca’s book he suggested taking in Ensure at Hawi for some protein, any suggestions there?
The protein does help a bit, and I used a version of that in my racing on the bike in Kona. But it is heavy and usually starts to make you bloat especially later in the bike. You could try something like our drink with protein for part of the bike, or branched-chain amino acids taken in pill form on the bike (another thing I used). These will help with blood sugar levels and in staving off muscle breakdown. But you have to be careful how much stuff like this you throw in the mix. Make sure to try it on hot training sessions over and over first.
4. I want to focus on Kona, but what do you think about throwing in some shorter races before? I was considering USAT Nationals but it is way out on the East Coast and I think recovery would be somewhat prolonged. I don’t travel east well. Any thoughts?
It’s definitely a good idea now to break up the long-distance mentality that Ironman training breeds. It’s also good for you physiologically to train your anaerobic system as you get to around six to eight weeks out from Kona, where it’s all been about Ironman training with less emphasis on speed. I would NOT do any races from here on out that you don’t like the idea of doing. It will drain you and waste vital energy that you need for Ironman. Race yes, but pick places that will be positive all around for you.
6. Do you have any secrets up your sleeve that I can use in Kona?
Don’t cut your hair or fingernails in the last two weeks prior to the race. Of course you can shave your legs etc., but leave the large stuff alone. May sound quirky, but it will help keep you stronger. Plan your gear early so you don’t spend the final week before leaving frantically assembling your arsenal of goods. Get to the start line healthy. Whatever is necessary to arrive as a well running machine!