Running a marathon is hard enough at the best of times, let alone in an Ironman. Here are 5 tips to help you run faster, consistently.
1. Hit Your Race Weight Shedding excess body fat may help you run faster and cycle up hills quicker. According to Joe Friel, author of Triathletes Training Bible: “A pound of excess body weight takes about two watts to get it up a hill on a bike and costs about two seconds a mile when running. What if you shed ten pounds of fat? You would ride up a hill seven to ten percent faster and run a 5k about a minute faster.” Weight loss is hard to achieve, especially without losing muscle mass. Research suggests that if you attempt to cut calories, you should maintain your previous protein intake in order to lose fat rather than muscle. We advise our triathlon coaching clients on this, in the run up to a big race.
2. Drink Cola There are a plethora of fancy energy drinks on the market, offering you various forms of carbohydrates and electrolytes but there comes a stage towards the end of a long-distance triathlon when you can’t beat good old fashioned Cola. The thing with Cola (not diet) is that it contains lots of simple sugar. Six teaspoons per can in fact! And the benefit of simple sugar is that it enters your bloodstream as energy without having to be processed and converted in your gut. It’s short-lived, quick-burn energy but it is energy all the same and your body will thank you for it when you’re on your last legs. So next time you can’t face another energy snack, reach for the Cola - the flatter the better.
3. Get A Proper Bike Fit What's that got to do with running?Your ability to run well during an Ironman is partly determined by residual fatigue from the bike section. After riding for anything between 4 hours 30 and 8-hours you’re bound to be stiff and sore. And this is where a good bike fit can help. A qualified fitter will spend up to four-hours analysing your fit, adjusting your cleats, assessing your flexibility and fine-tuning your set-up. The end result should be a riding position that is both comfortable and efficient. This should help reduce fatigue in key running muscles such as the hip flexors as well as easing tension in your back, shoulders and neck. Check out Retul.com or Cyclefit.co.uk for practitioners.
4. Measure Your Pace Before you start the 26.2 mile run section of an Ironman, you’ll need an idea of how to pace it. One solution is to use a GPS watch that measures pace. Start off by using it during all your long training runs and on race day. Providing the race-route and conditions are similar to your training routes, you can use your training pace as a guide to race pace. If you pace the bike sensibly, your Ironman race pace is likely to be 30-60seconds slower per mile than your comfortable long-run pace in training. Alternatively you could try using heart rate. Your Ironman race heart rate should to be 5-10 beats lower than during your comfortable long training runs, in like for like conditions.
5. Ride Sensibly The biggest factor in determining your success in an Ironman run is actually how hard you ride during the Ironman bike section. Most people get this wrong, and hence we spend a lot of time with our triathlon coaching clients making sure we get it right. Riding sensibly leads to consistently strong Ironman run performances. This is one of the bedrocks of our success as My Pro Coach. We touch upon it here.
We've had great results from our triathlon coaching clients with these run tips, hopefully they'll work for you too.