Triathlon tips: IRONMAN 70.3 in Staffordshire is go despite injury pain

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  • Sport360°’s Chris Bailey has signed up for the challenge of his life in November – an Ironman. Follow his adventure as he prepares his body for a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile cycle and a marathon to finish with the help of I Love Supersport Dubai … check out part 1, part 2, part 3 and part 4 here if you haven’t already.

    You haven’t known pain until you’ve fallen off your bike.

    Exactly two weeks out from my first real triathlon test, the tarmac at Nad Al Sheba gave my body a thorough examination.

    Shoulder, elbow, hip, knee, ankle and wrist were all scraped to such an extent that I’m still playing connect-the-scabs 10 days later.

    It was no one’s fault but mine. A few kilometres out from finishing the bike portion of my ‘brick’ session – in which cycling is immediately followed by a short run –  I turned my wrist inwards to check my watch, which turned my aerobars inwards, which turned my front wheel inwards. The next thing I know I’m using the asphalt like an ice rink.

    The errors didn’t stop there. I gave myself a cotton skin graft by applying fibrous material to what were essentially burns – the nurse who treated me used everything save a pickaxe to dig it all out.

    The good news? The pain has stopped and an invaluable lesson has been learned, although the thought of cycling 90km in the race proper is making my left side twitch.

    Race against time

    Sunday is an important yardstick – my first-ever half-Ironman, less than six months out from the real thing. Yes, good guess, it’s half of what will be required of me in November: a 1.9km swim, 90km on the bike and a half marathon to finish.

    The last five months working with I Love Supersport Dubai, and particularly super coach Dmitriy Firsov, has turned me from a half-baked gym-goer to a workout metronome.

    It’s possible to train six days a week. It’s possible to get up before 6am. It’s possible to commit to something and for it not to be a chore.

    Neither is it just my journey. In the ILSS Dubai strength group that I attend, several people are building up to this race distance in time for Ironman 70.3 Dubai early next year and it’s inspiring to see so many strive for similar goals.

    Food for thought

    No amount of training will get my body around the course, set to the beautiful backdrop of Staffordshire in central England, without the appropriate amount of fuel.

    My final sitdown with coach Dmitriy focused less on the moving and more on the eating.

    As it’s not possible to lug – or chew – a gourmet meal around for 70.3 miles, food must come in liquidated form.

    As such I’ve now got some serious ammunition. Three huge sachets to pour in a water bottle that apparently amount to a staggering 1,000 calories, all for the roughly three hours I’ll be spending on the bike.

    Three more sachets – thankfully a little less dense – for the run, and that’s not including the salt-infused chews, water and other energy drinks I’ll be consuming as well.

    Hopefully my stomach lives up to the Ironman billing.

    Rock around the clock

    So back to the UK I go, filled with hope that the British roads aren’t keen to get up close with my newly repaired shoulder.

    As I’ll be let off the bridle, and racing in fresher, cooler conditions, Dmitriy is hopeful that I’ll beat six hours. My recently wounded ego is saying six-and-a-half.

    If you’re interested in my progress, download the IRONMAN Tracker app and follow me from circa 10:30 GST this Sunday. Send some positive vibes my way while you’re at it!

    I Love Supersport Dubai is the premier international endurance sports school. No matter your age or ability, achieve your goals as a swimmer, runner, cyclist and triathlete under the tutelage of some of the region’s best coaches. Visit for more details.


    Dmitriy Firsov – ILSS coach

    Around 45 per cent of the time, injuries occur during the warm-up or the cool down – because of lack of concentration. This is what caused Chris to fall off his bike, after a hard workout during the tapering period for his half-Ironman. The most important thing is to ensure you recover as much as possible. If you don’t it affects the execution of the race, but nothing else. Put it down to experience. In future he’ll know and be cautious when it comes to his training.

    Just before the race, the body can become fragile when it comes to the peak of form during tapering. You feel yourself getting stronger, and you want to push yourself more and more. I tell most of the athletes I’m working with to become more calm and thoughtful at this point. Concentrate on what you have to do, how you must do it – go through it in your mind before each workout. Make sure you maintain hydration including electrolytes in your body, and increase your carbs two or three days out before the race – thought it depends on the length of race too.

    On race day, if you’re not concentrating in terms of distance, pace, heart rate and power and nutrition, you will not succeed. You have to be smart before doing anything – concentration and control. This race is important for Chris because he has to build experience, and halfway through his training, it’s to test himself and where his performance is. It will inform our future preparations for the Ironman, and how we’ve built so far.

    Chris is doing well. We finished the main endurance block and we will we go to higher volume after this race. Overall it will take us three, three-and-a-half months where we will push really hard with the volume and the aerobic capacity to increase it as much as we can. Then we will switch to speed endurance, which will increase his speed and power. We did have minor issues that stopped us proceeding with the loading and recovery in a proper way, for example the fall and his illness a couple of months ago. We only missed four days of training with the fall though, so I’m happy with that!