Bart Rolet is an elite triathlete who finished 3 times in less than 10 hours at the World IRONMAN Championship in Hawaii, and was third Quebecois during his last participation in 2015. Bart is also known to be the head coach of Bart Coaching. Over the past five years, Bart has led more than 200 triathletes towards their goals, from sprint to full IRONMAN distance.
Several of his elite athletes will race at the IRONMAN of Tremblant on August 20 and will seek qualification for Kona. Is there a better person to give some advice before the IRONMAN of Tremblant?
The Näak Ambassador shares his experience and advice to succeed and live the IRONMAN fully.
1. Never forget why you're here
An IRONMAN is a long effort in which you go through ups and downs. When things are bad, you're in pain and you're sick of your race, you have to realize the chance you have to be there. In these moments, think about people who are sick, who are not in shape, or who cannot do an IRONMAN for financial reasons.
Sometimes, you might not be excited for the start of the race because it is 6 in the morning, there is the pressure, and you just don't want to be there. One of my worst race memories is when I did the IRONMAN of Tahoe Lake. I had done my carbohydrate loading the day before, the checking of the bike, I had put my wetsuit on and my feet were already in the water when they announced the race was cancelled... I can tell you that at that moment, you realize how much you want to do the race!
I could not even train because there was a forest fire and the air was polluted. At this point, you feel the adrenaline but you can't do anything. There is nothing more frustrating!
2. Be patient
First, it is important to start the race with the good pace. Don't start too fast because there is a long day ahead of you.
When things go wrong, do not despair. On an IRONMAN, your energy level is never constant. You'll have ups and downs, more than on a 70.3. You must stay focused. Don't get angry. You have to be patient. When you're at the bottom, take the time to fuel, check your pulses and the energy will return. It sounds incredible: we tell ourselves that the dynamism will never come back but it always ends up coming back!
On an IRONMAN, your energy level is never constant. You'll have ups and downs, more than on a 70.3.
When it's good, do not fall into euphoria because it is at this point that you're going to forget your nutrition plan. There are as many moments of doubts as moments of euphoria. Get ready for it!
There are two traps to avoid during an IRONMAN:
At the beginning of the biking: the mistake to avoid is to begin with the half-IRONMAN pace because you feel that your legs are fresh. Don't forget that you are doing a complete IRONMAN. If you go too fast, you'll burn too much energy and you will probably pay that cost at half of the bike session or during running.
At the beginning of the running: people often make the mistake of starting with a marathon pace. However, with 180 km of cycling in the legs, you have to go slower than that. This isn't the time to try to do a PB on the marathon. Every minute during which you run too fast equals 3 minutes lost later. Of course, it is not easy to hold on at this moment because your cardio is good and you're happy to get up after sitting so long on the bike... Especially when there is a lot of people supporting you. Remember this! The best time to start giving everything is at the half-marathon. This is where the race begins.
3. Do your race
There's nothing worse than going out of your race. If you take a hit during the swimming session, don't let this distract you. This person probably didn’t do it on purpose. Keep in mind that everyone is stressed in the water.
On the bike, don't let yourself be influenced by friends who have the same level as you at practice and outperform you the day of the race. It is possible that your friend is on a good day. In this case, good for him! Most likely, he may have a hard time in 1h, 2h, or on the marathon because he went too fast. This is about being smarter than the others. Letting someone go faster than you is not a weakness, it is a strength.
The best time to start giving everything is at half-marathon. This is where the race begins. This is where you feel if you have the legs to push. Here, you must accelerate. Usually, you give everything you have and you'll be able to maintain the pace that you had during the first part of your race. This is where the good races happen. Until the 10th kilometer, you can feel very well but it is difficult to judge. Unless you have a lot of experience, it is from the 20th kilometer that you have to attack. Before the 20th kilometer, be in control. After that, it's time to give it your all!
Näak: A piece of advice for the IRONMAN of Tremblant?
Coach Bart: Don’t be too careful about your average during the first bumps at the beginning of the running session. Your average may be lower than usual because it goes up and down. Once you're on the road of the little train of the North, it becomes flat. It is at this point that you must run with your race pace and give it your all!
Näak: Some advice for the race nutrition?
Coach Bart: For my part, I don't like taking gels too soon unless I feel that I really need it. For example, when I have an attack of exhaustion. I like to keep the gels for later, so that on the run I'm not disgusted of eating liquid gels burning my stomach. I advise you to vary the types of products during the race. Gels, "jujubes", bars... I take Näak energy bars on the bike because it has a texture harder than gels.
I don’t use gels on the bike, I only take bars. The advantage of the Näak bars is that they contain protein and sodium that allow to regulate the blood sugar. That's the product I recommend on the bike. Taking gel increases your glycemic index, while the Näak bars allow you to regulate it. During your cycling session, your cardio is low, you need less fast carbohydrates.
Näak: Some advice for the preparation before the race?
Coach Bart: Do your checklist and prepare your stuff a long time in advance to be sure not to forget anything. I prefer to be alone when I get ready for the race so I don’t get distracted by people coming to ask me questions. Do not change things at the last minute.