David McNamee is a professional triathlete who competes at an international level. As an INCUS Enabled Athlete, David understands that triathlon training is an ongoing process and that there is always room to improve. David talks about the mental side of IRONMAN training and racing and gives advice for those looking to compete in a tough event.
What is the hardest part of an IRONMAN, mentally?
The hardest part of an Ironman mentally is the fact that even if you have a great race, there will have been moments during the race that you have struggled both physically and mentally. Nobody feels awesome the whole way through an Ironman and that is what makes it such a unique challenge.
Generally, my hardest moments mentally come around the 130-150km bike mark and then around the 28-32km mark on the run. These are times when my body is starting to feel tired and there still is a long way to go until the end of the bike or the end of the race.
Do you have any personal mantras that help psych you up for an IRONMAN?
My personal mantra going into an Ironman is very much that I am there to test what I am capable of. To see if I can improve on what I have done before and to go past my previous limitations. I see Ironman as an opportunity to improve my past self.
If there is ever a point when you find yourself struggling during a race, what do you do or think about to stay strong?
When times get tough during a race I always just tell myself "keep moving forward". These words help get rid of any feeling I have of giving up and I also try to remember past races where I have gone through bad patches and then ended up finishing very strongly. Ironman is a physical and mental rollercoaster and it is something you should always remember.
What is your favourite thing about IRONMAN racing?
I think personally my favourite thing about Ironman racing is that it really is a great challenge for yourself both physically and mentally. No matter how the race goes, I feel like I leave it having learned something about myself. I always have something to go away with and to work on to make myself better. Also, it does not matter if you had a good or a bad race, there is always happiness when you get across that finish line.
What advice do you have for people looking to take on IRONMAN racing?
My advice for anyone looking to start Ironman racing is to become consistent in their training and to ask lots of questions from more experienced triathletes. There is a lot to do in order to prepare yourself for an Ironman so make sure you speak up and ask any questions you have.
Also, make sure you have a position on the bike that you are comfortable with - racing for 180km is a long way. Plus, do not wait until race day to test out your nutrition choice. That and make sure you relax and enjoy the experience.
What do you wish you’d known sooner about IRONMAN racing?
I wish I had known more about nutrition and the importance of it earlier in my career. How and when you fuel during a race is vital to the success of it. My early years of racing, I waited too long to start fuelling on the bike and I always struggled later on in the bike leg because of it. Also, to practise my race day nutrition in training so that my body was used to what I was feeding it and to make sure I had no problems with it.
How has INCUS helped you in your triathlon journey?
INCUS has really helped me over the last couple of seasons to become more balanced in both my swimming and running. Especially in the pool, I have worked a lot on making my left side stronger. This has allowed me to become more efficient and when you are racing over such a long distance, efficiency is key.