Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Improving Your Triathlon Run

Many I know struggle to put in the same commitment in the run league of a triathlon race like they did on the swim and bike. Many takes it all out on the swim - as it is a league that relies heavily on the upper body strength (if you swim front crawls) and then they hammered the bike (requiring 100% leg muscles). 
PD Tri2013. T2.
Coming into Transition 2 (T2), they started to fumble and have what we call the "Jelly Legs". The good timing they put in for Swim-T1-Bike all goes to waste the moment they started the "Run" league, which to many are reduced to Walk. 
Sound all too familiar?

Triathletes swear by this. So does some Duathletes. However how much of this is true? BRICK or Bike-Run = ICK (as in icky, not pleasant, not nice thingamajigs) is an essential part of the life as a multi-sports athlete. However, that is just one part of the equation. BRICK prepares you for the Bike-T2-Run transition. But it doesn't prepare you to put in as much commitment to your final league of your race. And you know that matters.
Imagine this scenario:
You swam your best 1.5km. Never felt everything gelled more together. You went onto the bike feeling great. "I can PB this today", you said. You been training on the bike and the bike trainer, knowing you will be able to pull in a good timing on the pedal.
40km done in 70mins. Good timing. And you know you pushed it harder than usual when chasing that PB. You came into T2, pushing your bike and your legs started seizing up - it felt weak. Not giving up, you went for the run... started to walk and you walk most of the last 10km. Or if you were a little bit more prepared, you ran. But you know that run was a "jog". You missed your PB. And that chap you overtook proudly on the bike ran past you with ease. Leaving you to nurse your bruised ego. 
What Happened?
You need to recalibrate your run. As a triathlete, we will never go into a run with our legs fresh. 
Speed is a perception. Example : You drive along at 80km/h at a 70km/h zone. You see a Polis and you slow down to 65km/h. It suddenly felt slow. But if you were to drive at 50km/h and speed up to 65km/h, you will feel fast(er). Same with running. A fresh leg run will NOT be representative of how fast you will run after the Swim and Bike. If you been "running" at 7:30 pace during a triathlon race when you can hold a 4:30pace on a (run) race, your 7:30 pace will feel super slow. But if you can muster up to run at a 6:00pace on your next triathlon, you will feel it to be FAST. To recalibrate, you will need to run MORE at your RUN RACE PACE. 
PD Tri 2013. Out of T2.

A few things will happen when you start putting in more time into your run and commit to a more structured training routine. Your VO2max will increase. VO2max is a measurement of your oxygen uptake per unit of time. The higher your VO2max, the more oxygen you can "send" to your muscle, which in return used to breakdown stored fuel (both carb and fats) and allow you to be more efficient and faster on the race course.
The biggest gain in the VO2max comes in when you are racing/training at your maximum heart rate; and the easiest to reach this maximum heart rate is no other than RUNNING. However, not all running will give you this benefit as the longer you run, the less likely you will go near or reach your maximum HR. You will know that between running a 5km race and a marathon (42km), chances of you hitting the HR roof will be higher with the 5K race. So, to improve your triathlon run, you need to run 21km or less - and in my opinion, nothing beats a 5km speed work or HITT, or a 10km Tempo Interval
Good Luck!
PD Tri 2013. Caught up with many that has lead me on the biking.


  1. Great tips, Stupe! As I always say, a triathlete does not need to be fast runner, but more importantly be a strong runner after swimming and cycling.

    1. yes sir! That alone separate the front finisher and the back markers. Many triathlon races were won on foot, even during Ironman distance race.

  2. Couldn't agree more on the tempo interval and speedwork runs...That has helped to improve my pace and run feel tremendously. I now have some sort of an ability to go for negative splits when i need to. Running is not always about how far you run :)

    1. so many like with your status Wong. Thanks for confirming my own personal finding on the physiology of improving run in multisports :)

      Say Hi if we happen to meet. :)

  3. Is anyone going for dis run? Got money ah? This will be my 1st marathon think I really need some advice on long distance race, anyone can help me?