Your Best Race Day: 7 Tips for Iceman Success
1. Train Adequately in a Realistic Setting
As the weather changes and available daylight wanes with each passing day, it’s very tempting to hop on your indoor trainer. However, even if you have a solid indoor setup that can seemingly mimic hilly conditions, you’ll be hard-pressed to find an indoor environment that can truly simulate the Iceman course. We suggest logging in as many trail miles as possible – though not just on any trail.
“This race is full gas from start to finish,” cautions Johanna Schmidt, PT, DPT, a physical therapist at Mary Free Bed at Munson Medical Center who has completed Iceman six times. “You’re breathing hard the entire time so you’re not really prepping yourself properly on a single track.”
The avid cyclist – who also co-founded the youth-focused, cycling advocacy organization Norte with her husband Ty – recommends familiarizing yourself with the actual Iceman trail itself if you’re local. Still, the most optimal training can happen right in your own backyard. Schmidt says she owes her best race results (placing 6th) to combining both road racing and mountain bike training, including multiple treks up Wayne Street, a hilly road running alongside Ashton Park in Traverse City.
2. Train on Your Race-Day Bike
Just as important as replicating your environment is training consistently on the same bike you’ll be racing with next month. This will allow you to be comfortable and familiar with the fit, the gearing, and the control of your equipment. Another bonus? Training on your race-day bike may alert you to aches and pains, such as knee pain, that the bike itself may be causing. These physical warnings can signal a few needed tweaks, such as adjusting your saddle height. And if your own adjustments aren’t hacking it, you still have time to seek help from a professional bike fitter in your area who can better pinpoint any biomechanical issues.
3. Get a Tune-up
Perform a proper tune-up of your bike before the event. This includes checking the condition of the brakes, chain, and derailleurs. If you’re new to racing or just not mechanically inclined, it’s a good idea to have a professional do it.
4. Pace Yourself
It’s always critical to pace yourself according to your ability and the quality of your training. If you are new to racing or you are pretty certain you are not going to win the race or be in contention, then it’s probably not a good idea to start at the front of the line. “If you’re a first-timer or you’re not racing to win, seek out a group toward the back whose pace is more in line with your own,” says Physical Therapist Josh Thorington, PT, DPT, Manager of Rehab Services at Mary Free Bed at Munson Medical Center. “It will help you manage the race better. Plus, you don’t want to have to drop out of the race because you’re too tired from pushing yourself too hard at the start.” Regardless of your ability, remember that Iceman is a long race: don’t use all of your energy to the point that you can’t finish.
5. Dress Strategically on Race Day
It’s northern Michigan and you just never know what you’re going to encounter. Our advice? It’s easier to shed layers than it is to add them. Dress in clothing that you can easily peel off or slide down. Think vests that keep your chest warm but your arms cool, arm warmers (which you can slide down once you’re warmed up), and even clothing you don’t mind losing permanently should you need to lose a layer en route. Schmidt recommends underdressing, a tactic that has personally worked for her. “People tend to overdress,” she shares. “But when you’re overheated, it can be difficult to go fast. Even if it’s 40 degrees, a mile or two in, you’re already sweating.” In addition to a vest and arm warmers, Schmidt wears a jacket at the start line and gives it to a loved one right before start time. “Or bring something you don’t care to ever see again and discard it before you get going.”
6. Manage Injuries Now
As we mentioned above, pain can stem from something as simple as crank length. However, if you injure yourself or you’re experiencing pain such as a sore back or aching joints and muscles both on and off your bike, it’s important to manage your injury now. The rehab Team at Mary Free Bed at Munson Medical Center can evaluate you to determine the exact issue and provide interventions that will get you back in shape for race day. “Our goal is not only to get you back to racing pain free but to keep you racing pain free by creating a program that is tailored specific to you,” says Thorington.
7. And Finally…
Don’t forget your helmet!
Get access to our enhanced rehabilitation services, including physical therapy, to help you get back to your everyday amazing! Find a Mary Free Bed at Munson Medical Center location near you.
About Mary Free Bed at Munson Medical Center
Specialized, coordinated care is what you can expect through Mary Free Bed at Munson Medical Center. This unique collaboration gives our region’s athletes access to one of the largest and most comprehensive rehabilitation hospitals in the United States. Learn more here.