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Fight hard to hold your position

16 January 2012 No Comment

It’s much easier to hold ground than to try and win ground.
Looking at a military point of view, it’s far less work to defend a position than
it is to take possession of an enemy held position.

In our sport a similar battle plan can be applied to an
Ironman race. If you swim well, transition fast, then ride well, you set your
competitors the task of taking your position away from you. While it’s very
necessary to have a strong run, if your competitors are so far down the road,
it may become an unrealistic task to actually catch them.

The mental game is an important one. If you’ve run well,
ridden well and in many of our races there are turn around points, where our
competitors have a chance to see how far ahead we are. This is a great
opportunity to display your best body language. If when your competitor comes
toward you, you look like you’re doing it easy. Like you’re feeling no pain.
This is going to make catching you look all that much harder.

I’m asking you to change the thoughts from, running scared,
to holding onto what is rightfully yours, and refusing to give it up. Fighting
to the last drop of blood to hold onto what’s yours. That simple change of the
angle you look at the situation with, can either strengthen you or weaken
you.

I’ve heard many triathletes discount the importance of the
swim in a race. The argument put forward is that the swim is only 10% of the
total race time and it’s better to spend the training time on the other two
legs of the race. I have won an age group (and a Hawaii Ironman spot) in the
swim. When we looked back over the results, the guy who came second to me, had
a faster combined bike and run time. He had given too much away in the swim.

Improving the swim is a project which needs to be approached
systematically. The swim is very dependent on good technique. Good technique
has to be the base of all swim training. Every session should have some
technique work. If during a workout the athlete becomes tired and loses control
of his/her technique, the workout should be terminated right there. There’s no
point practicing bad technique, you’re already good at that.

An athlete can improve their swim on three sessions a week,
but it’s a long slow process. Adding two other sessions of as little as 1,000m
each can dramatically improve the rate of progress. Swimming improvement is a
frequency thing. Owning a new part of swim technique takes many episodes of
practicing it to “own it”.

These days you can’t take the Hawaii spots in any age group
if you have a weakness in any of the three sports. Weaknesses have to be
eliminated.

It’s a simple formular. Get the swim competitive. Learn to
ride at race pace for long periods of time in the aero position. Every month I
include a 100km time trial, if you’re an Ironman athlete there’s not much point
in doing a shorter time trial, once you get your time trial bike out. Over
100km you have to have aerobic efficiency to keep improving the time.

Once the swim and bike are in order, it’s a case of
defending the position you have gained. There are so many athletes in Ironman
racing who are not good at this.

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