2) Bad Drinking Strategy - So many people arrive dehydrated let alone finish... well, at all. In Wisconsin, you gotta "pee by Verona". I know, not the same as "pee by Hawi" but the concept remains the same. If you haven't been drinking enough (but not too much) then your marathon may be a nice long walk.
4) Making Last Minute Changes to ANYTHING Before Race Day - I have a friend who would order new shoes, saddle and aerobars and change them the week before the race at every Ironman. Then he'd ask me why he "just didn't feel right" on race day. No changes a minimum of three weeks out. (I prefer six.)
5) Race Week / Taper Over Training - 21 days out and under... you can only screw up all your work. Rest. Relax. Sleep. Save it for the marathon junior. Stay away from athletes who are freaking out. Only a short visit to the expo - 2 hours MAX. Get away. Get off your feet. Get relaxed.
6) No Run Plan - You have to plan to run the marathon - not just survive it. This starts with your fitness, but extends to your plan to actually execute on race day. My athletes have individual pacing strategies (depending on their ability and experience). Make sure you have a plan that works for your current level of fitness - AND - have a contingency (read: back up or "if the worst should happen") plan. Hey, you can always walk or walk/run.
8) No Ability to Adjust and Move On - The military calls is the OODA process. I've never had a long or ultra distance race go entirely my way. How will you react when you get a flat tire? How about a second flat? Mentally, be ready to adjust. It's the person who can shrug off whatever comes their way who will be a) a finisher b) successful in reaching their goals. In my IM persona record I had - 1) two flat tires (nails/tacks on the course by an angry local), severe stomach cramping which had me stopping at port-a-johns six times and included roughly and 11 minute T2. This combined with 95 F heat made the day interesting. Hey... it's Ironman. If it was easy we'd call it something else. Mental toughness training starts on day one.
9) Not Warming Up Properly - Yes, even in an Ironman you need to warm up. I'm amazed that so many people do not warm up. Swing the arms. Take a short jog. Stretch. Plyometric jumps. Get the blood pumping.
10) Over or Under Training - Overtrain and your torn down. Undertrain and you'll be hitting the wall early. If you must do one, undertrain. I'm amazed at how many people overtrain and aren't healthy on race day. Their drive to race won't let them listen to their body. Likewise, I'm amazed at people who think that doing several 3-4 hour bike rides but "doing them hard" will be the right training for an event that will be longer than 10 hours for 95% of the athletes. Getting to the starting line healthy is the goal. Many athletes will not be 100% healthy when the cannon goes off.
Coach Bob Mitera is an associate coach with Triathlon Academy. His athletes have finished hundreds of races all over the world. He prides himself on his athletes balancing their life, work, training schedules while achieving great results. Bob currently coaches athletes who have lost more than 50% of their body weight as well as professional triathletes.