Dear Daddy - I Want To Get Better At My Run @ 27 Mar 2017

Back in the 90’s and 2000’s it was considered most advantageous for those new to the sport to have a running background. Even for young children at talent ID camps they would try and recruit top class junior runners into the program and then develop the other two disciplines. This has changed somewhat with the increased speed and importance of the swim. Unless you have a swim background as well as a good run it is virtually impossible to make it as a pro now.

Generally speaking, for AG warriors coming into the sport with a strong run is an advantage over other sporting backgrounds. Particularly in the longer course. A strong run allows you to chase down those ahead of you and finish off a race strongly. Those with a strong run can normally become good cyclists if they put in the work. The only time you see a good runner struggle is if they are really lean and lack muscle mass to recruit enough power required to be strong on the bike. Similar from the strong cardiovascular engine developed from years of running, they can normally get the swim up to a respectable AG level when wearing a wetsuit.

So if you don’t have a strong run background, fear not, don’t get disheartened, just put a bit more emphasis on it and the overall improvement will come.

Most people in the know would say for the age group triathlete to get better, the run should be the no.1 focus.
I remember going to a talk, put on by Top Gear Cycles, years ago by Derek Boothroyd. Derek at the time was a VIS triathlon coach. He said if you can do 9 sessions in a week, make it 3 swims, 2 rides, and 4 runs. In other words he placed the greatest importance on the run. He also talked about the added time convenience and ease of getting a 4th run in, as opposed to another ride.

Regular running inadvertently helps your bike leg anyway, it keeps you light and lean which will obviously help you go faster. But don’t get too light that you lose power.

Those who already have a strong run, might chose to adopt the 3 swims, 3 bikes, and 3 runs if they have time to do 9 sessions.

I think a run week of 3 -4 sessions should look like this.

1 long run – 1hr + (Do 1 hour for sprint, 1.30 hour for half, and 2hr plus for Ironman)
1 threshold pace 10k – 15k run (i.e. comfortably hard, 15km for IMers)
Easy 10k run
Speed work / track work – up to 10k

You should build up to this distance however utilising the 10% rule. Only do 10% more each week for your total run volume. So if you are not coming off much of a run base, start with 3 x 5k runs then build from there. If only doing 3 sessions, alternate between the 10k threshold and 10k easy from week to week. If you feel you are getting some niggles then do the threshold run at an easier pace.

It’s important to point out that the stuff I write is mostly my opinion with what I have read and heard over the years. However I’m no student of the sport who constantly analyses the latest research.

Till next time, enjoy the upcoming cooler months, have a break from the routine and mix it up. See you at some trail runs over winter!