If you are competing in or planning to complete any endurance event lasting longer than 3-4 hours, you need to be well prepared. This goes beyond the physical aspects of sufficient training, and the mental aspects of competitiveness, resilience, fortitude, and adaptability.
When you get into marathons, ultramarathons, open water swimming marathons, and Ironman events we're talking about the need for a complete game plan with multiple contingencies for unexpected twists and turns.
I will never forget being at an Iron-distance event close to twenty years ago. A gentlemen in line near me asked my opinion of using Sticky Buns pastries as his key nutrition on the bike. I was skeptical. :-O
If you don't want to be that guy, topics you should be well thought out and prepared for include:
Complete pacing plan - heart rate, power, or perceived exertion
Course knowledge and review
Strategic racing approach, if applicable
Nutrition breakdown by type, time, range of calories - a consult with a nutritionist is good here
Caffeine plan, if applicable
Mental strategies for adversity
Total gear breakdown
I'll flesh all this out in a future article, but as the season kicks into gear, these should give you a few Sticky Buns for thought.
Marty Gaal, CSCS, is a USA Triathlon coach who lives in the Triangle area of North Carolina. Marty has been coaching endurance athletes since 2002. You can read more about OSB coaching services at www.osbmultisport.com.
One Step Beyond is the producer of the Powerstroke®: Speed through force and form freestyle technique DVD, intended to help new to intermediate triathlon swimmers become faster and more powerful in the water.