© IronMan Nice France

Our tips for a successful IronMan France

Over the years the Ironman France triathlon has become the flagship long distance triathlon event in both France and Europe. But to be successful, it’s a challenge that requires solid preparation so you can enjoy the day without suffering too much. Here are 5 mistakes to avoid that will ensure your Ironman Nice France is a success.

Mistake no. 1: Starting your preparations too soon… and being in top shape too early!

This is a classic mistake made by novice or over-keen athletes.

Thinking they are doing the right thing, some athletes are over-keen and begin their preparations 9 or 12 months beforehand. That’s way too early! You need to visualize your preparation like a rubber band that you gradually stretch and then release on D-day. If you stretch the rubber band too early and too much, it will break before the great day! In general, Ironman preparation takes 6 months and must be GRADUAL. There is no point in doing long bike rides or running sessions during the winter.

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Mistake no. 1: Starting your preparations too soon… and being in top shape too early! (continued)

Take the example of an amateur athlete preparing for a first Ironman Nice France. Preparation can be broken down as follows:
From October to December: « general » preparation. The focus is on improving weak points and strengthening the foundations (weight loss, technical work, core strength, etc.)
From January to March: « focused » preparation. This is the time to increase the workload a little and work on power (MAS, MAP) to gain speed.

Mistake no. 1: Starting your preparations too soon… and being in top shape too early! (continued)

From April to June: « specific » preparation. The objective of this last phase is to reinforce strong points, work on sequences (the specificity of the triathlon) and in particular to be in peak form on D-day, namely the end of June. Being in top shape at the right time is what differentiates experienced athletes from the inexperienced ones. An experienced athlete knows how to improve gradually and channel energy to peak during the race. Remember you have to give everything on the IronMan Nice France race day and not before!

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Mistake no. 2: Failing to enter any preparatory races!

Nothing replaces competition when training!

One of the basic principles of sports training is specificity. This is completely logical, but the fact is that to improve at tennis for example, you have to play regularly. And it’s the same for the triathlon. The specificity of the triathlon lies in the rapid sequence of the three disciplines. In the beginning, going from swimming to cycling is not easy, some people feel dizzy or nauseous. This is mainly caused by the transition from a horizontal position to a vertical position, which requires the redistribution of blood flow. The cycling / running transition is even more difficult and often comes with stitches in your side, difficulty getting your breath and struggling to find an optimal stride.

Mistake no. 2: Failing to enter any preparatory races!

Once again, the rapid transition from a ridden sport (bike) to running requires rapid physiological and biomechanical adaptation. However, to adapt quickly from one sport to another, you have to make connections. And in this case, nothing replaces competition. Approaching an Ironman without having ever participated in a triathlon competition is an additional handicap because athletes will not have experienced the particular sensations caused by the sequences.

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Mistake no. 2: Failing to enter any preparatory races!

In working towards the goal of completing a triathlon, it is important to compete! What is the ideal number? Let’s take another example of an amateur athlete preparing for a first Ironman France. The ideal frequency is probably one competition per month. During the winter, doing some preparatory competitions is a good idea for working on your running speed (10 km, half marathon or even cross-country or trail running). In spring, the ideal is probably to do a short distance triathlon (1.5/40/10) in April, a long distance one (1.9/80/20) in May and the Ironman in June.

Mistake no. 3: Inappropriate intensity during training!

The two main variables that condition the training workload are the amount and intensity.

Too much training can be counterproductive in a number of ways. The problem is the same for intensity. Going flat out in every session will quickly lead to athletes stagnating and going backwards (fatigue, overtraining, injury, etc.). Conversely, training constantly at low intensity without ever hitting maximum revs will also quickly lead to stagnation. Good intensity management during sessions is therefore FUNDAMENTAL for anyone wanting to improve and reach peak form on D-day.

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Mistake no. 3: Inappropriate intensity during training! (continued)

To work out the appropriate intensity, you need to evaluate your capabilities objectively by carrying out tests (laboratory and field), and then use tools which make it possible to quantify the training intensity. These tools are:

– cardio-frequency meter to evaluate your heart rate (tachometer)

– stopwatch and GPS to evaluate swimming or running speeds.

– power sensor to evaluate power used when cycling

In addition to these technological tools, there is an indispensable tool that can be used at any time: how you feel. Whether muscular or respiratory, how your body feels can quantify the intensity of effort. The only downside is that you have to calibrate a scale for these sensations in order to be able to accurately assess your effort. The more experienced you are the more reliable your sensations will be.

Mistake no. 4: Failing to find out about the specificities of the race in Nice!

The point of training is adapting the triathlete to both the effort and the particular race.

It is therefore important to consider the influence of the conditions (which are the same for all the competitors) on performance. Given the same environmental conditions, everyone will respond differently, with, of course, repercussions on sporting performance. It is therefore necessary to learn about the conditions in term of water temperature (wearing a suit), air temperature conditions during the day (cycling and running wear, food and hydration), the weather (influence of the wind and rain on the bike configuration, clothing, etc.), the race profiles (managing effort, steering, etc.)… The list goes on.

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Mistake no. 4: Failing to find out about the specificities of the race in Nice! (continued)

Although the answer to particular race conditions often lies in the hardware, it is not always the case.

For example, swimming is not the same with or without a wet suit, with or without waves; the influence of your riding skills depends on the type of course and the weather (wind and / or rain); individual thermoregulation capabilities in hot or cold environments; the effort management strategy depends on the profile and nature of the different routes. During preparations all these elements should be taken into consideration and anticipated well in advance. You can’t suddenly become a good downhill rider at the last moment. Nevertheless, the closer you get to the goal, the more interesting it will be to try to put yourself in predictable race conditions, and if possible schedule in some course reconnaissance (including cycling) – for example during a training camp.

Mistake no. 5: Neglecting recovery during the honing phase

The goal of the honing phase is to reduce the physical and mental stress of training so you are in peak shape on D-Day.

The honing phase coincides with a significant reduction in the amount of training (honing) during the 3-4 weeks preceding a major competition. The goal of this phase is to reduce the physiological and psychological stress of training in order to optimize performance. It is a question of arriving at race day with no physical fatigue and in the best psychological place.
The beneficial effects of the honing phase have been proved, but this final phase is both crucial and tricky because there is no miracle recipe.

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Mistake no. 5: Neglecting recovery during the honing phase (continued)

MAlthough this strategy is systematically employed by athletes and coaches, success is not guaranteed. In fact it is quite common that after a failure coach and athlete question the way this phase in the preparation was conducted without being able to find a solution for the next time. The stakes are so high that some athletes will sometimes choose their coach on the basis of their reputation in this final stage of preparation. Getting athletes to work hard is the easy part; getting them to the starting line is more difficult and risky.

Mistake no. 5: Neglecting recovery during the honing phase (continued)

It is therefore essential not to neglect this key honing phase. Doing too much or reducing the training workload too late is often the major mistake. The opposite error is, of course, a too long honing phase which causes a de-training phenomenon. A period of 3 to 4 weeks of honing, preceded by a period of high workload, seem to be the consensus. The strategy of increasing the workload during the last 10 days of the honing training workload, is sometimes suggested.

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    Our 5 tips for a successful

 

Ironman Nice France

By Jean-Baptiste WIROTH

Passionate about sport, I live between the Côte d’Azur and Cape Town in South Africa. In 2002, I created a coaching and sports event company: WTS – The Coaching Company. Today, I advise amateur and professional athletes helping them to prepare their goals, and organize cycling events under the Executive Challenge brand.

IRONMAN NICE FRANCE

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