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Monthly Column: Not Yet on the Podium

March 11, 2014

Not Yet on the Podium

By Earl Furfine

Hi, Endurance Racing fans. I trust everyone is getting ready for a great season. I have just completed this year’s first century ride, the MS Breakaway from Miami to Key Largo, in preparation for Ironman Texas. A very well-run ride: 100 miles completed Day 1 and 50 Day 2, followed by a 90-minute run. Not a bad weekend of training! Speaking of training and racing, we here at ERM thought it might be nice to share my top 10 training and racing tips. Most of these you have already heard or even followed, but it is always helpful to get a refresher!

1. Keep your pace early, and push near the end on long training rides. I tend to fall into pace groups that are a little fast for me. I’ve found that if I keep my HR Zone where my coach has advised for the first 70 miles, then try to hammer with a faster group for the last 30, I get a much greater benefit from the workout.

2. Manage your heart rate on the run. I am amazed at how many runners (and triathletes) can’t keep their heart rate down on climbs. By simply keeping the same cadence and shortening up your step, you will keep your heart rate down – and you’ll be amazed at how successfully you can climb even the most painful hills.

3. Keep up with your nutrition. This sounds like a simple plan but is often poorly executed. I tend to get behind on my hydration, particularly during Ironman; so I now force myself to drink every 15 minutes, as much as I can take in, up to one bottle an hour. I use sports drinks with 300 (plus or minus) calories and supplement with gel blocks. It takes a while to experiment with what you can tolerate, but have a plan on race day and don’t try anything new.

4. Flat Coke is the bomb! I was surprised when my coach mentioned that they hand this out at Ironman® rest stops. It settles your stomach (I get GU Belly on some occasions) and gives you a quick lift. Given that it is at every mile stop, the quick lift normally lasts until just about the next stop.

5. Lots of lube before, during and after the bike (enough said, and no I am not talking about your bike chain).

6. Bring fans!! I have never raced Ironman with fewer than 10 supporters. It is absolutely the way to go, especially on the run when you begin to tire. Knowing you will see a smiling, supportive face is better than any energy bar.

7. Advil. (This may not be for everyone). I normally take a few between the bike and run. Of course, consult a doctor if you are unsure.

8. My own personal rule: No Alcohol. I stop all alcohol intake 3 months out from an Ironman-distance race. I know it helps my training and recovery, but more importantly, it begins the “mind over body” training that I need during race day.

9. Carry something inspirational. I have a small gift from my girlfriend that I wear around my neck during the race. It reminds me of the sacrifices she has made for me to be able to race and provides much-needed motivation during the tough parts (mile 80 on the bike is usually mine!).

10. Have a mantra! Anyone who has seen my column knows mine: “Faith, Pace, Focus, Strength”. Faith in my training; keep my desired pace during the race; focus on the event I am currently on; and when all else fails, remind myself (our selves) we are Ironmen and women, the most mentally strong athletes around.

Everyone have a great race season. I am still, not yet on the podium…

“Faith, Pace, Focus, Strength”


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