World Champion Ironman Qualifier Shannon Coates—Secrets to Winning on Race Day

Shannon Coates

Ironman World Champion qualifier and Timex sponsored athlete, Shannon Coates knows a thing or two about high-performance suffering and endurance. So we asked for her secrets on training, staying motivated, and digging deep.

THE CLYMB: What is the single most important element to you performing your best on race day?
SHANNON COATES: Most important is consistent preparation. The thing about racing an ironman successfully is that a proper buildup takes months and consistency is key. The early stages of training takes months of building an endurance foundation. Then power and speed can be successfully worked on. Finally a taper. Come race day, you are ready to fly. If I am inconsistent at any phase in my training it leaves the possibility of injury or burnout.

THE CLYMB: Do you have any specific race-day rituals that help you get your game face on?
COATES: Yes I do! I always go and get my nails done and often splurge and get the slightly longer acrylic nails put on. Two reasons. I imagine that those extra mm I just added to my hands will allow me to have a slightly longer pull in the water and it makes me feel fierce.

THE CLYMB: How do you maintain focus when you’re on the road. Any tips?
COATES: I love traveling! I see the travel portion of the race as exciting. It’s taper time. So all I have to worry about is keeping my feet elevated and staying hydrated. If I know I’ll be flying to an event I do wear compression tights. Air travel tends to pool the blood so it helps immensely to come off the plane feeling fresh.

SC-RUNTHE CLYMB: Are there any training techniques that you find help with performance in all three sports (swimming/running/cycling)?
COATES: Core work, hands down. It helps immensely with stability on the run and holding form from the first mile to the 26th. It helps with swimming because a strong core is the basis of good technique. In cycling, a strong core is what gives you optimal power output and cadence.

THE CLYMB: How do you motivate yourself to dig deeper when you’re having a tough moment during a race?
COATES: I remember conquering those excruciating moments during my hardest workouts. I train my body to endure. But, more importantly, I train my mind to never give in.

THE CLYMB: Do you do any other sports or cross training in the off season? What keeps you stoked?
SHANNON COATES: Ironman season is so long that I must take a month or so off in the winter to relax and reset my mind. I do love running; it is my background and first love. I look forward to off-season in the winter because I can put on my warm jacket and tights and go explore some pretty trails. Running always frees my mind. Getting lost in my thoughts on a beautiful trail inspires new goals and dreams every single time!