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!