WHY PREPA­RA­TION IS AB­SO­LUTELY EV­ERY­THING

Age-grouper Amy Kilpin ham­mers home why fail­ing to pre­pare is a fast track to a bad race

Triathlon Plus - - Tri Chat -

kay, so we all know that for most of us, we can’t just rock up and cruise our way through a triathlon with­out hav­ing in­vested time and ef­fort into train­ing ef­fec­tively for it. It’s prob­a­bly pos­si­ble to blag your way through a short dis­tance event (and when I say blag, what I re­ally mean is strug­gle), but as you step up to the longer stuff, train­ing gets a bit more meaty.

If you want to achieve good re­sults (and most of us do) then there’s some­thing which ev­ery­one should do prop­erly – and it goes with­out say­ing that it’s ap­pli­ca­ble to ev­ery dis­tance: prepa­ra­tion.

The thing is a triathlon isn’t just about the swim, bike, run el­e­ment. Aside from be­ing able to com­pete in three sport­ing dis­ci­plines

O(and put them all to­gether on race day) there are so many other fac­tors that need to be ac­counted for, from nu­tri­tion, to cli­mate, to kit, to ter­rain and more. Es­sen­tially it comes out of learn­ing what works for you and by be­ing pre­pared you can avoid a lot of prob­lem­atic is­sues on race day. I’m talk­ing about more grippy tyres if it’s wet, sun­screen if it’s sunny, elec­trolyte sup­ple­ments if it’s hot. Sound ob­vi­ous? You wouldn’t be­lieve how many peo­ple get it wrong!

I re­cently had the most valu­able ex­pe­ri­ence I have ever had in triathlon when it comes to prepa­ra­tion. Sure, it’s prob­a­bly “next-level” prep for some of us, but the fundamentals re­main the same – clever prepa­ra­tion re­ally pays off on race day.

I was get­ting ready to race Iron­man 70.3 in Viet­nam. It’s a com­mon fact among fam­ily and friends that I like a bit of sun­shine, but this was go­ing be ex­treme. Although I’ve raced in hot coun­tries be­fore (Malaysia be­ing the hottest, in 2015, which saw a pretty poor run time!), I have never car­ried out such thor­ough prepa­ra­tion be­fore.

My new coach, Mark of In­tel­li­gent Triathlon Train­ing, re­ally is in­tel­li­gent. He pre­pared the Brown­lees and a host of other Olympic ath­letes for the Bei­jing Olympics. Their prepa­ra­tion in­volved heat and hu­mid­ity train­ing ses­sions and sodium load­ing tac­tics to cope with the con­di­tions. This is where hav­ing a sports sci­en­tist with an elite back­ground as a coach is re­ally ben­e­fi­cial.

So there I was, set­ting up my turbo in my win­dow­less bath­room, heat­ing on full and a bath­tub full of pip­ing hot wa­ter. I had a ther­mome­ter read­ing 32 de­grees and 80 per cent hu­mid­ity. I was sweating buck­ets just stand­ing in there. I had to care­fully weigh my­self be­fore and af­ter the ses­sion, mon­i­tor­ing liq­uid in­take as well, so we could mea­sure fluid loss. I had to work re­ally hard dur­ing these ses­sions too, be­cause ap­par­ently adap­ta­tion oc­curs faster if you work at higher in­ten­sity.

I can honestly say it’s some of the worst train­ing I’ve ever done in my life. But I got used to it. And be­fore I knew it, I was out train­ing in Thai­land and feel­ing ab­so­lutely fine in the 36 de­gree heat and 75 per cent hu­mid­ity. A week of train­ing in Thai­land put me in an even bet­ter po­si­tion for the race in Viet­nam.

On race day, I was in­structed to take more than 20 salt tablets be­fore and dur­ing the race – again, some­thing I have never done be­fore nor been ad­vised to do by a coach. I didn’t speak to any­one else who did this for the race. Drinks and gels which claim to pro­vide elec­trolytes don’t con­tain even nearly enough sodium to compensate for rac­ing in those con­di­tions. So with my lit­tle pouch of salt tabs, I was sorted.

Out there on the course, I barely no­ticed the 36 de­gree heat. I had my fastest ever 70.3 bike split and I felt com­fort­able on the run, too. Ev­ery­thing just felt easy. It was amaz­ing and it was my favourite race of all time be­cause it just flowed. I ended up with a PB, 4th in my age group and 11th fe­male age-grouper over­all.

Sure, I’m not break­ing any records but to PB in those con­di­tions shows that my prepa­ra­tion was ab­so­lutely ev­ery­thing. Those hor­rific bath­room train­ing ses­sions all served a very spe­cific pur­pose and they well and truly paid off. No mat­ter what type of prepa­ra­tion you need to do to race well, it’s fun­da­men­tal if you want to suc­ceed. As they say “by fail­ing to pre­pare, you pre­pare to fail.” amyk­ilpin.co.uk

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