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How To Improve Your Triathlon Run

Posted by: on June, 21 2013

Found on Xtri.com by Luis Vargas, MarkAllenOnline

In 27 years of triathlon training, racing, and coaching, I have learned that the triathlon run is perhaps the most difficult thing to master. Many people who are good runners in running races struggle in a triathlon run, and there are a few reasons for that. One can be lack of endurance since the triathlon run happens hours into a race. Another could be lack of nutrition since, in races that take longer than two hours, anybody can struggle if their nutrition and hydration is not proper. But assuming that your endurance and your nutrition and hydration are in good order, let me give you some of my best tips to ensure that you have a good run in your triathlon.adam finish

1.  Make sure that you have proper body weight. Many people can get away with having extra pounds in the swim and the bike, but they often pay the price on the run. More so in a triathlon run because of the heat factor as having extra pounds makes it more difficult to cool off. Losing even one pound can give you an extra three seconds per mile in your next triathlon run. Just do not go overboard with this. Consult a nutritionist or a coach to make sure that losing a couple of pounds would be beneficial.

2.  Have proper turnover. Every time that I go watch a triathlon, I often see runners with a very slow turn-over. Some of this is the nature of our sport since everybody is tired by the time we get to the run, but some of it can be fixed with drills and just simply paying attention to our turnover in training. Try to get your turnover with one leg to about 90 steps per minute.

3.  Enter some running races. There are two great reasons for this suggestion. One is to see what your best performance in a running race would be without having to swim and bike. The other one is to practice running faster than you would on race day for a long distance and under pressure. Even in a triathlon, once you get close enough to the finish line it comes down to a running race with a lot of discomfort. Having this experience will make you a much tougher competitor.

4.  Train on your race surface. For many including me we try to avoid running on hard surfaces like cement and asphalt in order to prevent injuries and save our legs. However, almost all big races are done on paved streets. Undoubtedly, if you don’t train on a surface that is like the one you will race on, your legs will not be able to handle the additional stress particularly late on a run. As your races get closer, make sure you do some long runs and even some speed work on your race surface.

5.  Develop some strength. Traditional runners do hill repeats and speed track workouts in order to develop that run specific strength, but some of the strength can also be developed by doing exercises at the gym. Ask your coach for a strength training program as it can be way safer. Speed training is often the cause of many injuries to triathletes. When you do speed training or hill work make sure you don’t try to break your speed record on the first day. Build gradually and allow your body to warm up and be able to handle the additional stress.

6.  Finally be reasonable to yourself and have reasonably attainable goals. For example if your fastest quarter-mile at the track going all-out is two minutes, that translates to an eight minute per mile pace if you could hold that for a mile. It will be unreasonable to expect to be able to hold an eight minute per mile pace or even nine minute per mile pace on your half ironman run. The longer the run, the longer the triathlon, the slower your average pace will be. Write down all your paces for short run races, speed workouts, sprint triathlons all the way to full Iron triathlons, and see what that looks like. Show this to your coach and see what they think about it. Some people like endurance and some people like speed.