Sunday, April 11, 2004


mug Like Tri?
Debbie Hornsby

Fine-tune training
with rest and hydration
during ‘taper week’

Editor's note: Last in a series of articles over eight Sundays designed to help anyone who wants to participate in the Honolulu Triathlon.

WEEKS ago, you decided to compete in the Honolulu Triathlon. Since that fateful day, you've dusted off your bicycle and pulled your running shoes out of the closet. You've also done a lot of training, eaten properly, tried to get more sleep than usual and have been hydrating so much that you're visiting the little boys or girls room on an hourly basis.

Susan Williams, left, says to get lots of sleep the week before.

Now, one week before the big day, you're thinking, "What have I gotten myself into?!" Relax. This is the last week before your race, known as the taper week, and is one of the best things about training. This is when you get to reduce your training, get more rest and eagerly anticipate putting it all together.

During taper week, you should reduce your training distances, but be sure to include some speed work in your efforts. These sessions are important when "fine-tuning" your training. The key word during this week is rest. You would rather be over-rested than overtrained and tired when going into an event.

Another key component this week is hydration. You don't want to be thirsty or depleted before the big day. In terms of food, your goal is to watch your caloric consumption during any taper period. If you're training less, you should correspondingly eat fewer calories so that you don't gain weight.

Resist the temptation to calm your nerves with a pint of Ben & Jerry's. Another consideration is that, contrary to popular belief, the night before the race is not really the time for that big plate of pasta. 'Carbo-loading' doesn't really build up extra, magical reserves of energy, so you may want to forgo the three helpings of ziti.

In fact, your biggest meal the day before should come around 3 or 4 o'clock in the afternoon, followed by a light snack in the evening. This way, your system will have plenty of time to digest and process anything you've eaten, thereby saving yourself some potential digestive distress during the race.

Triathlon training tips

Three tips for training for a triathlon from Susan Williams, who is ranked No. 5 in the U.S. She lived in Honolulu when she was in sixth to eighth grades.

» Gather all of your race gear the day before the race. It's good to put your bike and helmet numbers on and have nutrition ready.

» Make sure you check out the transition area and mount/dismount lines ahead of time so you can visualize smooth and fast transitions.

» Get lots of sleep the entire week before your race so that if your nerves keep you from having a good night's sleep the evening before, it won't affect your energy on race day.

While you hope to sleep well on Saturday night, there is a great possibility that you won't, due to nerves and the constant mental rehearsal you'll probably be going through. Don't worry if you don't get much shut-eye, however, as adrenaline will power you during the race. Try to sleep really well on Friday, and remember to reduce your alcohol and caffeine consumption, as both are diuretics and can cause dehydration.

Another consideration is your equipment. You must plan to bring your bike to the transition area on Saturday, where it will be left overnight in a secured area, but you'll have ample time to check it in the morning before the event. Before any race, you should make sure your bike is properly tuned and ready to ride. Ensure that your tires are properly pumped, that all cables and gearing are working and that any spare tires, tubes or other flat-fixing materials are ready.

You should also prepare your race clothing well before Sunday, including bike gloves, if necessary, a running hat, a race belt and sunglasses. If you use nutritional aids during training, like gels or energy bars, you'll want to have some packed for race day. Remember your water bottles on race morning, to ensure adequate hydration during the bike. And, just to be safe, pack the car up Saturday night, to make sure you don't forget anything.

On race morning, get to the site early! You'll want a lot of stress-free time to park, get checked in at registration, prepare your bike, lay out your transition area and relax during your pre-race meditation. Yes, you'll be anxious and yes, you may have doubts about your sanity in doing this race, but what's there to be nervous about?

Remember that you're about to embark on a great, exhilarating journey and about to reap tremendous physical benefits from your morning's exercise. You're also going to challenge yourself and do the best job you can do out there. What a great way to spend a morning! Good luck, and best wishes for a wonderful Honolulu Triathlon.

Debbie Hornsby is a former Canadian National Triathlon Champion, U.S. National Champion, Ironman Age Group Champion, ITU World Champion and Triathlete Magazine's National Triathlete of the Year (1994). She is the five-time Tinman winner and has held the women's Tinman course record since 1993. Debbie is a high school administrator, and is currently working on her doctorate in education.

For more information on the Honolulu Triathlon, visit


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