Question: What are the considerations for a Half Ironman® race rehearsal?
Rich Strauss: All of our long course training plans include two race rehearsal workouts, roughly at 6 and 3 weeks out from your race. These are, without a doubt, the most important individual training session in your schedule. You want to get these right, so let’s dig into them a little deeper:
Purpose of a Race Reheasal:
- Dial in/verify nutrition and gear plan: where/eat/kit out your bike just like race day. Does your setup work, anything to tweak, does my nutrition plan work, etc.
- Dial in/verify pacing plan.
- Dial in/verify bike fit. Locking yourself in aerobars for a 56 mile ride is very different from even your most tri-specific weekend ride. This is more critical with Ironman® race rehearsals, as I’ve salvaged at least a couple of my races with race rehearsals where the fit I thought was going to work for 112 proved otherwise by about mile 90, locked in the bars. Swimming before a race rehearsal is a good idea, as it will fatigue your neck and shoulders, just like the race will, so you’ll get a more accurate assessment of your bike fit. However…
- Bike course selection (below) has priority. Don’t create a ton of artificiality or admin time by limit the bike course route to it’s proximity to a pool. The bike course has priority over swimming and any course with lots of traffic, stops, etc is time where you come off the gas, have to sit up for something…all stuff that won’t happen on race day. This WILL effect the quality of your race rehearsal, specifically your neck and back won’t get the full monty experience due to the artificial rest periods.
- 1.2mi swim + 56mi bike is just not that big of a deal, if your bike fit is decently dialed in. In other words, I haven’t seen too many people sitting up in the last 10 miles of the HIM bike because their neck, back, shoulders are worked, post swim. This is MUCH more common in IM racing, not so much HIM.
You want to pick a course that has ZERO or as few stops as possible, that will have you on the bike for almost the exact time as your predicted race time, and has you locked in the bars. This time-on-the-bike is more important than trying to replicate the hills of the course. For example, if the Oceanside bike is going to take you about 2:55 but you pick a stoopid hilly route that takes you 3:20 to get in your 56…that’s a very different bike ride. Also, that hilly route = sitting up in the bars = resting your back = very different from race day. Again, course selection (identical time as race day, locked in the bars, no stops) has priority over swimming first.
45 minutes, regardless of distance, at race pace. If the run course of your race is “special,” ie, very hilly right out of the gate, like Wildflower, it would supergroovy if you could duplicate this for your race rehearsal run, choosing a very hilly run course…but not at the expense of bike course selection.