Click here to grab our newsletter jam-packed with free triathlon training tips and tricks!

You Qualified for Kona…Now What?

Think you have what it takes to qualify for and race the Ironman World Championships? Then be sure to read all the way to the bottom of this page!

If you’re reading this article, then you qualified or you plan on qualifying for the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii. You’ve poured the past several months or years of your life into swimming, cycling and running; you’ve ventured into that painful, dark place during your qualifier and somehow come out the the other side having bested your competitors and won your qualifying certificate; and now, you’ve realized that you just have a few months until you must do it all again.

Not only must you do it all again, but you must do it in a much more difficult environment, surrounded by sweltering lava fields, fierce winds, an unfriendly combination of heat and humidity, and a field of competitors that is consistently sharp, fast, and just as motivated as you.

So now what? How do you prepare for success on the Big Island?

Obviously, whatever you’ve been doing so far has worked pretty well. After all, you qualified for Kona. The same plan that got you through your qualification race is often the best plan to modify for the World Championships. You’re familiar with the terminology, the program layout, the workouts, and how your body responds to each session. With just 12 weeks to train, attempting to tackle the learning curve of a new training system is risky.

But crucial program modifications will be necessary to prepare the body for the Hawaii Ironman course. Here is what you need to do:

-Practice drafting. You’re going to be in a swim in which the majority of the field will be emerging near the 1 hour mark. Most of them will swim fast and swim straight, so it behooves you to be a good draftee. The most efficient drafting position is between the hip and thigh of the swimmer ahead of you. An acceptable position is also up to 2 feet from the toes of the swimmer ahead of you. Find a partner, preferably someone faster than you, and begin practicing open water or pool drafting at least once per week. Ideally, you should combine your drafting session with your long swim session.

-Ride in the heat. If you’re in a dry, hot climate, then do not worry about the humidity, since dry, hot training has a good physiological acclimation transfer to hot, humid conditions. Simply focus on completing your long rides during the heat of the day, and practice water and salt intake. If you are in a cooler climate, you’ll need to perform heat acclimation sessions involve an indoor trainer, radiating heat fan or radiator, and humidifier. We require these sessions at least once per week for the bike and run in our Kona training plan build-up at

-Ride in the wind. You must train your body to maintain a high cadence and an aero position while riding into the wind for long 10-30 minute intervals at race-pace. Especially during the ride out to Hawi, you will encounter fierce headwinds and crosswinds, and if you have a habit of “mashing gears” into the wind, you will destroy your marathon. Stay low, ride at 80-90rpm and embrace the wind.

-Run in the heat. This time of year, most individuals try to get the long run “out of the way” by starting in the morning and finishing in the mid-morning. The unfortunate news flash is that you won’t be running in the cool morning in Hawaii, but rather in the heat of the afternoon sun. So switch your long runs to afternoon heat, and engage in a high amount of R&R afterwards, including ice bath and foam roller to flush the inflammation that will occur with long runs in the heat.

-Run on the highway. Most highways have shoulders that enable you to safely perform a weekly race pace trek on an long, straight section. The other option is an old farm road or any long stretch of road that requires you to simply stare at the endless ribbon of pavement and focus on your cadence and pace. This is exactly what you will encounter while trekking to and from the energy lab.

-Run-walk. The aid stations in Kona are beyond fabulous, with some of the best triathlon volunteers on the planet. They’ll have what you need. To keep your core cool and to give you practice taking the time to dump ice anywhere you can get it as you go through these aid stations, practice taking a 30 second walk every 2-3 miles during your last long runs before your Kona taper.

In some races, you can get away with simply following a canned, non-race specific program and achieving success. But the World Championships is not your average race, and you must engage in focused and occasionally uncomfortable race-specific preparation if you want to succeed. I’ll see you there in October, and if you have more Kona specific questions, simply write [email protected].

Ben Greenfield Dishes Out Bike Course Tips In This Video From Our Kona Section.

Let’s face it.

Getting to the Ironman World Championships in Kona is tough.

Racing Kona intelligently is even tougher.

But if your dream is to qualify for Kona, or you’ve already qualified for Kona and you need to know what to do to optimize your experience, then the Rock Star Triathlete Academy’s exclusive “Qualify for Kona” section was built for you.

This ticket to get you to Kona includes:

– An online training log with a complete 3 month Kona specific build-up, along with Ironman and Half-Ironman training plans for all qualifying races.

– Insider tips and audio interviews with podium finishers and top pros from all the official Ironman qualifying events, with travel information, course breakdowns, and race-specific tips.

– An exclusive area on our forum devoted to Kona qualifying Q&A’s and discussion, from training to equipment to nutrition, along with qualifying race reports and feedback.

– Access to our entire library of articles focused on Kona specific training and racing.

– A coached race clinic during Ironman week in Kona that walks you through the event.

– Access to all other member features of the Rock Star Triathlete Academy, such as expert teleseminars, weekly audio Q&A’s, video lessons, and special discounts on products from Rock Star Triathlete Academy sponsors.

As a bonus, when you upgrade your membership, you’ll get instant access to the book “How To Qualify For Kona”,  jam-packed with…

-the rich history of the Ironman World Championships…

-the necessary qualification times for you age group…

-qualifying tips from pros and coaches…

-what to expect on race day…

-race day tips from pros and coaches…

-Ironman pacing and nutrition strategies…

-And much, much more!

Ready to get what it takes to qualify for and race the Ironman World Championships? The Rock Star Triathlete Academy is still accepting charter members for just one dollar! For more information, or to claim your charter membership now, just click here or click below! After you join, you’ll be able to instantly upgrade to the “Qualify For Kona” Section.


Already a member? If you’re already a Rock Star Triathlete Academy member, you can simply click here or click the button below to upgrade to the “Qualify For Kona” membership section.