“It’s without a doubt my favourite triathlon!” – Tobias Mews, Adventure journalist, author and athlete

If you want to conquer The Isklar Norseman Xtreme Triathlon, you’ll need to jump off a ferry into freezing fjord waters at 5am, cycle up 1000’s of meters, defeat numerous mountains, including Zombie Mountain, and take whatever nature throws at you. You can have all 4 seasons in one race day here in Eidjford. It’s not for the faint-hearted. Then look no further for pro tips on how to tackle the world’s toughest Triathlon.

#1 You all know I’m a BIG advocate for this: Mental Preparation

“Accept the pain and know that it will pass.”

– Allan Hovda (@Allan Hovda), Winner of Norseman x2, Swissman, Lofoten Triathlon and Ironman Haugesund

At the Norseman Athlete Zone – LIVE Q&A Allan recommended visualising and mentally preparing yourself for parts of the course, so you know what to do and what to say to yourself when you come to that point of the race. 

When you come to that point when you hurt, accept the pain and know that everyone is hurting and that this will pass.

And if that doesn’t work, know that if you will give up, you’ll regret it for the rest of your life.

#2 Train in race conditions

Lets go swimming! #swimming #swimtime #openwaterswimming #seasonhasstarted

A post shared by Trispiration (@trispiration.eu) on

“I had to work on getting used to cold water swimming.”

– Josta Bolhuis, triathlon coach and founder Trispiration, Norseman competitor (DNF) and Celtman finisher, among others.

I had to work on getting used to cold water swimming, because while I was training the open water temperature in Holland was rising. Open water temperatures in Holland were between 18-20oC and for Norseman they were between 10-14oC. This was a problem.

So I decided to only shower really really cold. I also swam all of my races in Holland without a wetsuit to get used to cold waters. During Norseman I didn’t have any problems with the cold water and came out of the water very happy, with a good strong swim behind me. Celtman, Norseman’s partner race, was even better!!!

#3 Test your kit out on the race course where possible

“Don’t do what I did and stupidly wear tinted goggles for the swim!”

Tobias Mews (@tobiasmews), Adventure journalist, author and athlete

Don’t do what I did and stupidly wear tinted goggles for the swim. I jumped off the ferry into the murky depths to then discover I couldn’t see a thing. I promptly swam the 700m to the start in total darkness, only to end up being off course. I then swam blindly upstream and finished several hours later! It was not my finest hour or two!

#4 Can’t train or test the course? Think outside the box and replicate the course in any way you can!

“I think people who lived around these bridges thought I was going nuts!”

Josta Bolhuis, triathlon coach and founder Trispiration, Norseman competitor (DNF) and Celtman finisher, among others.

There are no mountains nor hills where I live in Holland, but Norseman is all about climbing meters.  So to get stronger and to get used to going up and down for the run, I went to the coast of Holland and ran up and down the deep sand dunes. For cycling, I cycled endless amount of times up and down the bridges, between 30 and 50times in one training session!

#5 Pace yourself

“Do not kill yourself on the bike”

– Tobias Mews(@tobiasmews), Adventure journalist, author and athlete

Another tip would be to not kill yourself on the bike. I was so distraught by how much time I’d lost, I beasted myself on the bike to make up time. Which meant that my legs died on zombie hill (something that’s never happened in any of the 4 Ironmans I’ve done). 

#6 Strategise and plan with your race crew

“Make sure one of your support crew members is a good driver and you have a good communication system in place!”

– Josta Bolhuis, triathlon coach and founder Trispiration, Norseman competitor (DNF) and Celtman finisher, among others.

My nutrition plan failed during the race along with communications with my support crew. They were scared of driving in Norway, so they drove off for 50KM each time and I just lost them. This meant I couldn’t fill up my bottles, get my nutrition and more.

It’s also important to have a good fit athlete to run with you and one that doesn’t mind stopping a lot. Have a communication plan in place, so you can give a thumb up or down to let them know you need something and that you are ok.

Nutrition is really important. Talk it through many times with your crew, including how you react when you get tired, dehydrated etc., so they can anticipate what you need help with.

I improved this system for Celtman after being unable to complete Norseman and it paid off.

#7 Get into the adventure mindset

“See Norseman as an adventure.”

Tobias Mews (@tobiasmews), Adventure journalist, author and athlete

You have one goal – to get that black t-shirt. Your second goal is to get a white one! Any notion of finishing time or position (as long as it’s less than the cut off) should be arbitrary! It’s without a doubt my favourite triathlon!

#8 Nail your nutrition

“Nice to get a black tee, but it’s not worth dying for!”

Allan Hovda (@AllanHovda), Winner of Norseman x2, Swissman, Lofoten Triathlon and Ironman Haugesund

For those who are doing Norseman for the first time, nutrition tends to be the biggest issue. You really need a tried and tested sound nutrition plan.

Sometimes when you’re racing, you don’t feel hungry and don’t want to eat, but you really have to be consistent with the amount of food your are digesting. Always listen to your support crew regarding your nutrition, if they tell you to eat, eat!

Want to up your mental game in your sport? Then find out how we can work together by dropping me a message via my red messenger on my website or send me an email to adelaide@lillywild.com

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