My triathlon coach Col Stewart once said that the key to running fast in a triathlon is to become a stronger cyclist! This made no sense at all to a 19 year old triathlete who would kill himself trying to run sub 3 minute kms every session. It only really started to make sense as I transitioned into long course in my early 20s.
I spent a lot of my professional triathlon career racing the tough, hilly French triathlon circuit where I was tested on just about every course with big hills, fast descents and riders who could push enormous watts. I came home from each French season really strong on the bike especially on the flat Aussie courses and this in turn effected how fast I could run. It was then when I began to think about “Triathlon Running” as opposed to “Fresh” road running.
Running while fatigued is so different to running fresh that gaining bike strength has an exponential affect on how fast you can run.
How to find your triathlon run pace
One of the keys to running fast in triathlon is finding your “happy place;” meaning you train for your fatigued running pace and learn to run at this pace all day so it becomes automatic during your hard sessions.
If your goal Ironman 70.3 run time is at 4min/km pace, that’s the pace you should be aiming for during your hard sessions. This often gets misunderstood by a lot of athletes especially when you break this pacing down into 400s or km reps as running this pace when not fatigued can seem quite slow. The idea is to become a metronome at this pace, whether fatigued or not.
Top tip: Double run day
A good way of utilising fatigue in training is to implement a double run day with a longer easy run in the morning and then a faster fatigued run aimed at hitting your goal pace later on in the day. This will not only ”break” up your long run day and reduce the load on the body but it will also induce a fatigue on the legs quite similar to a half ironman.
Seated climbs & hitting the gym: Leg strength
Increasing your leg strength to deal with a hard bike ride will have great benefits for your run in your racing. There are a few ways to do this and one of these is to set up a good base of hill riding, just tempo hill riding mixed in with some strength efforts will give you a great foundation for when you start to hit specific fast sessions later on in the year.
Seated hill reps in a big gear once a week will activate the critical bike muscles needed to push power and run off the bike a lot fresher. These muscles can also be activated by hitting the gym a few times a week and concentrating on hamstrings, gluteal muscles and calves. When these muscles are strengthening it increases both strength and reduces injury. After a big winter base of strength work you will be amazed at how well your running off the bike will become.
How do you work on running off the bike?