Ironman® Lake Placid Macro Level Overview

As the leading race execution information provider, Endurance Nation has information resources on almost every long course triathlon in the world. One of our most popular races is Ironman® Lake Placid in New York. The longest running continental US Ironman® event, Lake Placid is a fixture on the racing circuit. It remains a destination race for many athletes and presents a unique set of challenges for competitors. Here is some quick advice to help you navigate the course to be your best on race day.


Team Endurance Nation vs Lake Placid

Number One: Handling the Swim In Mirror Lake

It’s called Mirror Lake for reason, and you’re going to love the swim. With the advent of the Swim Smart initiative, you will enjoy a leisurely rolling start that allows you to self seed to your time. In a little over twenty minutes all the competitors will be in the water and swimming on the first of two loops.

The swim is a giant rectangle which you navigate in a clockwise fashion. There are permanent cables secured under the water which anchor buoys for competitive kayaking and canoeing during the summer season. There are underwater cables that not only hold your race buoys but a series of very small buoys that make this course much like swimming in a lane at the pool. The only difference is there’s a few thousand other people next to you!

Rather than worrying about navigation for choppy conditions, you can focus exclusively on finding and establishing your stroke. Use the first lap to calm your nerves and get into a good rhythm. Stay focused at the end of that first loop as the first up is always the longest. When you hop out of the water on the beach to transition between loops, use this as an opportunity to find a new group, or new set of feet. The last thing you want to do this one second lap on your own. Enjoy the conditions in the quiet space that is swimming before you get out on the bike.

Suns Out, Guns Out!

Number Two: Understanding the Bike Course

Despite all of your fears and fascination with the elevation chart, the Lake Placid course is not as incredibly hard as you might imagine. Assuming you have the proper gearing on your bicycle, there is just approximately 20-ish miles of climbing on each of the two laps. The other 30+ miles are all flat, downhill, and fast.

The easiest way to approach the course is as follows. When the road goes up, you sit up. Shift accordingly to keep your cadence high and float over the hills. When the road goes down, or gets flat, you get down – into the aero bars. Use every downhill and flat session as an opportunity to create and sustain speed. Your aero position will make sure that the speed last longer.

Remember that the second lap is always windier than the first so be prepared for a slightly more challenging experience. Especially if the temperature starts to go up. Weather is always a factor, so we strongly suggest that you pack everything you might possibly need to have a comfortable bike.

On the Run at Lake PlacidNumber Three: Running In Lake Placid

The run course is also challenging but more for mental than physical reasons. Of course there is some good elevation in two very distinct climbs on the course. But the changes in terrain make the run much more manageable.

Believe it or not, flatter run courses are harder on your body because you never change speeds. Or your foot strike. Or your stride length.

The Lake Placid course is an out and back with the majority of the outbound portion being downhill. Of course this means that the return trip is, well, up exhibition point similar to the bike, patient self accordingly to run well on the outbound section without going too fast. Use that as an opportunity to catch a breath and fuel up in preparation for the return trip which will be quite challenging.

Set mental goals for climbing each hill such as running to the next telephone pole, mailbox, or obnoxiously loud fan section. Do not be afraid of strategically walking as needed to keep your heartrate down.

Heading out of town on lap two on the downhill portion is a very strong indicator of how your day will go. Your quads will be speaking to you and only you can hear what they’re saying. If you pace the bike in the first lap of the run appropriately, you’ll have enough energy to get it done. The last turn around on River Road is “go” time. Time to reach for the Coke at the aid stations and get it done.

We’ll see you out there on the course this year, happy training and good luck!

Racing Ironman® Lake Placid?

We invite you attend our trademark Four Keys of Long Course Race Execution Talk at the Lake Placid Theatre on Main Street, Friday, July 22nd, 2016. We’ll teach you how to race every inch of the Ironman® Lake Placid Course. We’ve been conducting this talk every year since 2005, delivering it live to well over 2000 Ironman® Lake Placid finishers!

Click on the image below for complete details and registration!

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