Survival guide for the Kona run

Getting through the run at the Ironman World Championship is no easy task. Matty White has five tips to get you through.

| October 13, 2017 | TRAINING

Michelle Vesterby on the run course during the 2016 Ironman World Championship.

Michelle Vesterby on the run course during the 2016 Ironman World Championship.

Photo >Kevin Mackinnon

by Matty White @MattyWhite77

It's this time of the year again and if you're one of the lucky athletes who have paid a small fortune to go and get a third-degree race singlet sun burn in the Kona lava fields, its time to start thinking about how to survive this torture fest. The main factor in Kona is the heat and, for southern hemisphere athletes, this is a huge hurdle, especially coming from the Arctic winter, where sunshine is at a premium and CompuTrainers hooked up to an indoor trainer in a heated laundry room is the closest most athletes will come to race day conditions. Here are five quick tips on how to tame this beast and not come back with a year long race suit tan.

1: Get there early:  This is an expensive option yet it is the best way to get used to race day conditions on the actual course. If you chip in with a few friends or a training squad you can usually hire a house a bit out of town for a few weeks,  grab a cheap hire car to get around and you are set. If you take this option then have a plan and build up slowly from when you arrive as the heat can take its toll in the first two to three days. It is easy to get excited on the Big Island, especially if you have never been there before,  so be smart and get used to things before you start re-enacting Faris going off the front solo in 2003 in your first brick session.

2: Heat Training: If you cant acclimitize in a warmer climate, then you get to explore the fun option of looking like a complete psychopath who has missed their daily medication, as you get to run around local gyms and running tracks in 5 layers of clothing sweating up a storm. Cranking the heaters up in a confined room while using an indoor trainer or treadmill will also have a small effect, yet it can be counter productive to your spending budget as you will end up blowing it on your quarterly power bill.

3: Race day strategies: Apart from the most common one of dumping your head in one of the ice cold buckets of water that 1,000 sweaty athletes have done prior to you getting there, you can look at your hydration strategy. Consult a dietician in this regard and they will give you a sure fire plan on how to counter any issues. If you want to take it a step further, you can get sweat tested by a physiologist or sport scientist, this will give you a clear reading of how much fluid you need to consume as well as your salt and potassium levels as well.

4: What to wear: This is not about what color compression gear to wear on the long haul flight, or what floral Hawaain number to wear at awards night, but what you will wear on race day to counter the heat. Visors look good, but its smart to keep your head covered in a white cap. White race suits are generally a NO NO, but in Kona there is a small exception to this rule. You could even go as far as the Swedish athlete Tojborn Sindballe who had an “ice glove” which he used to place ice in the palms of his hand to stay cool. One piece race suits are a great idea as you can place ice in there without falling out. So have a good think about your kit and gear for race day as the small factors can play a huge part in the kona heat.

5: Eat heaps of Spam: Spam is the national food of Hawaii and has heat repelling qualities, so go the nearest 7/11 and stock your trolley up with the tasty treat that is spam. You can place it in your special needs bags as required and even crush it up and consume this as gel form!