Edward: 3.5 months old
IM Muskoka: in 5 weeks
Sometimes having my ass handed to me is the best thing that can happen – provided that it happens in training! Because when it’s a training bout, I still have time to draw conclusions and make changes before race day.
Yesterday, I had the opportunity to ride the Muskoka IM bike course while supporting the Toronto Triathlon Club’s weekend training camp.
The course is no joke.
I knew that. But I had been training like a Humber Valley mountain – hill? – goat on the bike and had done a six-hour ride before. So I figured that it wouldn’t be that bad. And I think under ideal conditions it doesn’t need to be. So here are the five things I did wrong, and how I’m going to avoid these mistakes – hopefully – on race day.
- Ignoring my pacing plan
I’m a big numbers guy. All of you who I coach know this. So I have a very good idea of where I need to sit from a power target perspective in order to have a decent bike split without compromising the run. This is doubly important given how little I’ve run after my popliteus injury in May. I am significantly undertrained for the marathon, making pacing on the bike that much more important.
So exceeding my normalized power target by more than 20 watts is NOT the thing to do on this course. My 3k run off the bike felt absolutely terribly. Lesson learned.
- Attacking the hills
For a triathlete, I’m a fairly strong climber. Riding weekly with roadies will do wonders for your VO2max power, which is precisely the zone you use when tackling the short, punchy hills.
Just because I can, doesn’t of course mean that I should! See point one above. Nothing jacks up normalized power like above threshold pushes up hills.
- Relying entirely on solid nutrition
Lara bars may be delicious, and relatively inexpensive, and free of junk, and a compact way of toting a lot of calories, but – and this is a big one – all that fat is harder to digest. That means more oxygen and water needed for digestion and therefore less available for working muscles. The plan moving forward is to mix in some easier to digest simple sugars – especially on the second loop of the course.
- Forgetting salt and caffeine
I was a giant salt mooch yesterday, bumming tablets from everyone willing to lend me some. That’s because my own, neatly packaged tabs sat on the dining room table of our hotel room.
Caffeine wasn’t part of the plan for this ride, but it should have been. I routinely train and race with the help of this supplement and extoll its virtues to anyone who will listen. I can’t remember why I decided to exclude it from the nutrition plan yesterday, but it’s a mistake that I will not be making on race day.
- Trying so many new things all at once’
Granted this was training and not a race, but there was still way too many new variables jostling for space in my bean. Ready?
- New course. Since I was leading groups of athletes, I needed to know where I was going. I sometimes did not, and my GPS wasn’t always on track. This was stressful. Especially on the first lap.
- This was my longest and hilliest ride yet.
- New bike. Both the Ridley Dean frame, and the DI2 components on it were complete new to me. I had the fit more or less sorted, but this was the first proper ride.
- New aerobar hydration device. I’d never used a bottle-with-a-straw system. It wasn’t as straightforward as I had imagined.
Remember: do as I say, not as I do!
Irondad in training