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Simon Ward: Lessons from Lanzarote
Posted by: Simon Ward
Posted on: Tuesday 18th March 2014


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Time is fast approaching for Ironman Lanzarote 2014 - and with it the Hawaii-50 project of coach Simon Ward he embarked upon last May.

In this latest update, Simon highlights his 'lessons from Lanzarote', the small details which he hopes will help him on Saturday 17th May. If you are racing Ironman Lanzarote (or know someone that is), perhaps this tips could help you too...


Lessons from Lanzarote

When I started on this project, one of the promises that I made to myself was to spend as much time as possible getting used to the island.

I have been coming to Lanzarote on and off for 25 years now but its always been about just training, never actually with the intention of learning about what the island can offer, especially the weather.

In 2014 I have already had two, seven day visits and I have another two planned before the event.

This is what I have learned so far, that I can use on race day

The key element is the wind. Lanzarote is always windy but on both visits so far the wind has been stronger than normal.

How it affects each discipline I'll come back to later, but for now, the key lesson is it will be windy so learn how to deal with it - physically and mentally

Imagine a box of matches. I need to develop a strategy that allows me to burn the last match in the last kilometre of the run.

Swim - (supported by blueseventy)

Morning sunlight - The course orientation of the swim means that in the morning you swim directly into the sunlight. This makes navigation tricky but is somewhat nullified by the larger course markers that will be out on race day. The right goggles will be important. I think I have these sorted now. Thank you blueseventy.

Swim Start - I understand the swim start has been moved slightly to the right on the beach which makes the approach to the first turn slightly easier. However when we swam there last week it became apparent that there are a few rocks on the beach and just under the water that it will be important to avoid. Crashing into one of these at the start would be disastrous.

Two lap swim - The exit from the water after lap one always results in a spike in heart rate. On my last trip we practiced some of these ins and outs. Trying to keep the HR lower adds a few more seconds to the beach run but means you can get back into your swim rhythm more quickly. Running hard elevates the HR and this requires some easy swimming to bring it under control. I'll be using the former method. Remember, I'm not trying to win the race. If I was then a different tactic might be in order but in the grand scheme of things we are talking seconds. Here its all about saving matches

Wind - By May I expect the weather to be calmer but in the event that we have a strong Northerly wind it can be choppy at Playa Grande. My new stroke with faster cadence has proved to be much more effective in choppy conditions on recent visits

Bike - (supported by Fondriest)

The course - Most people think of the Ironman course as having three significant hills - Fire Mountain, Mirador Haria and Mirador del Rio. In fact there are several other smaller climbs that can sap the energy. The drag from Puerto Calero takes about 10 minutes and is only 15km into the ride. It can be a drag into the wind. After Haria village there are four short sharp climbs which are often forgotten. I think these require a more careful approach than the final climb to Mirador del Rio. Conserving matches again

Wind - The prevailing wind is from the North which means that most of the climbs are with a head wind. However there are many sections on the course where it possible to get into an aero position and really push on. If its really windy on race day (50kmh winds), then my recent experiences will stand me in good stead. My trip to the wind tunnel will be invaluable. That's a story for the next blog

Pacing - So far I have covered almost 1100km on the island this year and so I'm getting to know the roads pretty well. Learning how hard to push and what gears to use will be a key factor on race day.

Gears - I'll be using a 50/34 chainset with a 11-27 cassette on race day. I'm not a big gear person and in some places I will be running out of gears. However I have descended at 80kmh in some places on the island and to be quite honest if I'm going that fast freewheeling, I'm not sure I'd want gears to help me go faster.

Road of Death - Just when you think you have conquered the course there is a short section of about 3-4km near the village of Nazaret. This has to be one of the worst roads on the island. Its like riding a section of Paris-Roubaix... which is exactly what I'll be doing in a few weeks time. We haven't entered the PR Sportive specifically for this reason but after 170k in Northern France I think I'll be well equipped for the “Road of Death”

Aid stations - These are approximately 20k apart but of more significance is their location in relation to the hills. For instance between Famara and Mirador Haria there are four aid stations. This means you can get away with just one bottle, good news as most of this is uphill, and one less bottle is equal to somewhere between 0-5-0.75kg. Not much but worth a few seconds here and there. Once at Mirador del Rio there is a long downhill. Taking two bottles here is fine because it will actually help with the descending speed, so perhaps a gain of a few seconds. Still got matches to spare.

Run (Supported by Skechers)

The course is one long lap of 21k and two smaller ones of 10.5k. This means that by the time you get back to T1 you have done half the course and mentally its a lot easier to deal with. Running (and not walking) has typically been an issue for me in Ironman races so this is where I have been working very hard. Some of this will be down to bike pacing but mostly it will be a robust mental strategy. Running on various sections of the course and knowing how long each will take under race conditions is very important so I have been busy making notes about this and committing them to memory

Aid stations - these are every 2k but knowing the exact geographical locations help with the running plan. I've created a nutrition plan based on the locations and my requirements in order to minimise what I need to carry


This may seem like too much attention to detail but I think its necessary to get somewhere close to achieving my goal. I don't want to wake up on May 18th thinking that if only I'd done this or that. If you check back you'll see the article about the “I wish I had list”.

So far I think I've done a good job in covering most of those items. There's still a few to go but I've got nine more weeks and two more trips to the island. I'll keep you posted on my progress.

Supported by the following brands

Hawaii Sponsors Sketchers Impact CT FondriestLe Beau VeloAMP Vekta Velosport


Simon Ward About the Author

Simon Ward is the founder of TheTriathlonCoach.com, the most experienced group of coaches in the UK. You can contact him on 08700 418131, by e-mailing simon@TheTriathlonCoach.com or by visiting www.TheTriathlonCoach.com


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