Have You Ever Flatted in an Ironman? We Polled in Kona

Congrats to all of you who gave up beer, wine, scotch, brandy, you name it for January! 

We had a contingent of folks from, Twitter and this blog.  Hearty congrats to all.  This was much easier for some than others and if you had no problem with it, hold a place in your heart for those whom this may have been a bit of a struggle.  They learned that, just like in our sport, with the right motivation, just like they say at Ironman,

Does your warm up swim really help?

I'm a strong proponent of warm ups be you heading out for a swim, run, what have you.   Remembering that we save most of our stretching till after our work out, dynamic movement at a lower intensity and diminished range of motion gets you ready to train.  Ready while reducing your probability of injury as well.

Do you swim 100, chat. Pull 100, chat then rearrange your fins, pull buoy, and stuff on the deck.  Kick 100, greet new arrival two lanes over?  Think you get the same contribution to readiness to swim and over all swim fitness as the woman in the lane next to you who, even though swimming easily, does 300 swim, 200 pull and 150 kick stopping only to don/doff her pull buoy?  Try it her way for a week and see what you gain.


Every year at the Ironman World Championship in Kona, we interview as many of the athletes who'll talk to us, usually about things of which I'm curious.  This is from October.

Rehydration - Do you drink to thirst or follow a plan? - fairly controversial topic.  In one corner we have those who say that your body is the best indicator of thirst.  Listen to it and drink when thirsty.  On the opposite side of the ring would be the max hydrators who say to walk around the the transition area before race start sipping on a water bottle, and right before your wave is sent off, have a good pee such that you're starting the event with an empty bladder and super hydration.  Then keep a close track on what goes in your mouth drinking at regular intervals, thirsty or not.  This would, of course require some modification if you're racing in Hawaii vs Madison, WI.  Or, is there a middle ground plan where you're not looking to suck on a fire hose but you do use other indicators than basic thirst to determine when and how much to drink?

We also want to be reminded of hyponatremia, sometimes referred to as Marathon or Running Hyponatremia where the athlete consumes excess water diluting the serum sodium.  It has been reported that some athletes have taken this to such lengths that it's lead to their demise.  It's more often seen in the 4 hour or longer marathon runner, less hot conditions and women slightly more than men.

So knowing all this, what do the Kona qualifiers do?  It's an either/or question right?  Leave it to triathletes to come up with a third option of course.  So, this past October, 14% said they drank by thirst and 70% use a pre-race designed plan.  This leaves 16% who told us "both."  Thus, despite the teaching and preaching of a number of authorities, this group, which might be the finest and fittest on the planet that particular day have learned - likely though screwing it up - that for them some type plan will give them the highest chance of doing well in the endurance triathlon environment. 

Have you had stomach issues Iron racing to such a degree that it affected your race? This was a little more straight forward. 46% said yes leaving 54% negative.  One contributing factor might be that this group has, by nature of the Kona qualification system, raced a lot and perhaps had more opportunities from more races.  The 6 athletes I interviewed for Ironman, all legacy folks, had over 70 full distances races between them, and it didn't seem to be as big an issue

Lastly, I've raced Kona several times, and have even seen years where there were reportedly thumbtacks strewn on the course (a quick Google search will also report similar happenings at IMC and Coeur d'Alene.)  I've never flatted in an Iron distance race, or any race actually, and wondered if it were due to my, ahem, meticulous race preparation, or much more likely, blind luck.  So we asked racers:

Have you ever flatted in an Iron distance race?  This is when the fun began, a completely unexpected response.  A number of participants, when asked this seemingly innocent question, got angry.  Some, really angry!  Said we would jinx them if they answered.  Or even thought about answering.  Some "flat"ly refused to answer and just walked away!  Wow!  In any event, of those who did respond, without our fear of bodily harm, 79% had never been involved with flat repair racing Ironman.

If you have two more minutes, this was published a couple months ago and I think you'd enjoy reading "Can You Have Three Flats and Still Finish Ironman?"

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