Interviews

MY JOURNEY TO THE IRONMAN

Dr. SAQER AL KHALIFA President, Bahrain Triathlon Association and Assistant Undersecretary for Youth Authorities and Centres of Ministry of Youth and Sports Affairs

Dr. SAQER
AL KHALIFA
President, Bahrain Triathlon Association and Assistant Undersecretary for Youth Authorities and Centres of Ministry of Youth and Sports Affairs

RELAX ON THE SWIM, BE PATIENT ON THE BIKE, AND ROCK THE RUN

Athletes train and compete for many reasons – the sheer love of competition, the satisfaction of achieving a personal best, or the feeling of pushing their bodies to the limits of their minds. Shk Saqer shares his journey for he believes that YES, WE ALL CAN.

It was one heck of a race, the IRONMAN 70.3 Middle East Championship Bahrain. I really enjoyed it, and guess what, I got my own personal record! How did I do it? Let me share some of the few simple things I did that may help you during your next IRONMAN 70.3. #Dubai.

After having failed so many times, in Singapore, Thailand, Berlin, South Africa, and so on, I started noticing the trend. Yes, we all know that the finish line is after the run, but every time we have settled everything in mind, we would tend changing our plans during the race. We usually would waste our time on the bike and forget that there is a long run coming up.

In IRONMAN Florida, when I was flying on the bike at about 40-50 kilometres, I passed by a friend, Ahmed AlHaj, who was a much faster cyclist than I am. I noticed that this was not his usual pace. I wondered and asked if he was feeling alright. He answered with a yes, but he told me that he purposely was going slowly in preparation for a full marathon to run soon. It was a brief conversation but it dawned on me, his approach may be right!

During the Ironman Bahrain, I strategized by trying to ignore the swim, two minutes up or down was not worth investing hours in the pool. All I had to do was make sure I could swim the distance. My focus was solely on bike-run. Every time I’d get on the bike for training, I’d make sure that I’d hurt my legs as much as possible because I wanted to run with tired legs early the next day. I didn’t change my run speed and my speed work. I just tried to increase my weekly miles as much as I could. But because I didn’t have time to do the 15km runs, I did 5 in the morning, 10 at night, then 5 the next morning, and 10 the next night as well. I tried to run through in 30km in 48 hours. I needed to do 90km easy bike and then a steady 21km run.

Let’s not forget an important discipline, NUTRITION. In Triathlon nutrition, you will find that you need at least 5 years of university labor just to understand the physical chemistry behind it. But I have come up with a nutrition plan that will take you 5 minutes to understand: The race is all about the energy you have BEFORE starting it. In a 70.3, all you need to do is make sure that you are set to run a half marathon. Bahrain has a perfect cold weather, so while you did not sweat a lot, why do you need to drink so much water? Yes, you did train during the summer, but all the extra water you took during the bike was unnecessary weight in your run. Focus on running as light as possible and concentrate on reaching the run leg without losing so much energy and fatigue during the swim-bike segments.

Before I conclude this article, I want to share with you the meal plan I had on race day. Here are the essentials I took to attain 5 hours and 17 minutes. (My lucky number is 517, coincidence? ) Never say NEVER!

TIPS

  • Woke up at 4 am: Coffee
  • Before Race: 2 bites of Cliff Bar
  • Bike: ½ Bottle ISO + ½ Banana + ½ Cliff Bar
  • Run: ½ Banana + 3 sips of ISO + 1 sip of coke + Sponge to clean my face from ISO and coke.
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