Race-Day Ready - Tips from the Pros

Posted on Wednesday, 7 February 2024 under IRONMAN New Zealand

Champion athletes Hannah Berry and Braden Currie give us their top tips ahead of the ANZCO Foods IRONMAN® New Zealand race in Taupo on March 2nd.  

ANZCO Foods IRONMAN New Zealand is fast approaching, with hundreds of competitors from across the country and around the globe putting the finishing touches on their training ahead of the big day.   

While this is an elite event featuring some of the world’s finest professional athletes, it’s also a fantastic opportunity for those who are new to the sport to give it a crack and test their physical limits.  

Of course, whether you’re a veteran endurance race competitor or a first-timer, there’s a lot to think about leading up to the big event. To help you focus in on the key factors which will influence your performance, we asked world-class IRONMAN competitors (and ANZCO Foods brand ambassadors) Hannah Berry and Braden Currie to give us their top tips leading up to, and including, race day.  

Don’t forget to taper 

Four weeks out from a race day, both Braden and Hannah are hitting their training with real intensity, spending upwards of 25 hours swimming, running and cycling. But, 7-14 days out from the event they begin to taper, decreasing the volume of their work and lowering the intensity. This is a chance to freshen up the body ahead of an all-out effort on race day, and sees them doing just enough to keep the body ticking over – a light jog, an easy ride or a short swim is all you should be doing during this time.  

Get your nutrition right 

When it comes to nutrition, Hannah is all about consistency. ‘Don’t do anything differently in those weeks right before the race’, she advises. ‘Keep eating enough clean, wholesome food to fuel your training and ensure you’re feeling healthy and energised’.  

Braden agrees, emphasising the value of iron in the lead up to any long event. ‘I keep things pretty much the same, with plenty of carbs to help me through my training sessions. And I eat lots of lean beef and lamb to ensure I’m getting plenty of iron into my system. That’s really important when it comes to physical performance – get that wrong and you’ll notice it on race day!”. 

Stick with what you know 

You can’t wrap yourself in cotton wool before the race, but there are some things you can do to help you stay injury free in the lead-up. “Certainly don’t do anything different”, says Braden. “If you stick to the exercises and workouts you’ve been used to, and continue to eat well, you should be fine”.  

“You’ve got to listen to your body”, adds Hannah. “If you feel tight, make sure you jump on a foam roller, have a good stretch, or book in a sports massage. If you’ve got a bit of a niggle, don’t be afraid to skip a training session – by now, the bulk of your work has been done, and missing one workout won’t impact your race”.  

Tips for first timers 

“The race is a celebration of all the hard work you’ve put in”, says Hannah. “So, don’t forget to have fun – smile at the other competitors, try to stay present, and enjoy your time on the course. Don’t go out too hard, and remember to keep your fuel intake up throughout the day – particularly when you’re on the bike”.   

Braden agrees, encouraging beginners to enjoy the process. ‘It’s a big day, and one you should cherish. Just remember to pace yourself and keep hydrated!”.  

Stay motivated 

Whether it’s mantras you repeat in your head or inspirational slogans you scrawl on your arms, everyone uses different cues to help them stay motivated during a long event like IRONMAN. “Personally, it’s a combination of things”, say Braden. “I draw so much energy from my family and friends who support me out on the course. And then there’s just my natural competitive spirit; an inner drive to challenge myself and see what’s possible.” 

Of course, the atmosphere on the day helps too! “Compared to solo training sessions, the race is easy to get motivated for”, says Hannah. “You’re out there with a bunch of other like-minded people who have all been through the same arduous training, and are all just trying to do their best on the day. It’s very inspiring, and loads of fun!

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