In this blog I will give some detail of how to bring the leg sports (bike and run) training in the race phase all together to achieve that high finish come race day.
At the completion of the run phase, our subject should present with good leg strength, and the ability to hold high average run speed over extended distances. Completion of a 10km run TT post phase is always a good indicator of form. This also helps to set run training paces going into the next phase.
The next phase run wise is about maintaining those speed gains and further developing strength and endurance for the marathon.
For a couple of seasons now I have been setting a weekly 20-25min fartlek run immediately after a short bike set in race phase to some effect. In this midweek brick, the bike set is purposely not a depletion session and would involve working the athlete’s anaerobic capacity with short high intensity intervals and lots of rest. I have found this race run specific set very effective in both maintaining run speed gains and also teaching the athlete to find run rhythm earlier off the bike.
This variable paced run session, which incorporates sudden speed changes and sustained high intensity running perfectly complements the other more strength based midweek run sessions that make up the weekly schedule.
The more strength based mid-week run sessions which can also apply to bike sessions are based around developing the athlete’s leg strength and condition. They help the athlete to maintain higher average speeds for longer and also to absorb foot fall shock under duress later in the Ironman, during the marathon.
For example - include sustained efforts of around 80-85%mhr for 30-45minutes, or slightly longer durations for efforts with recoveries in between. These can be done on flat courses or if the athlete is stronger and not injury prone, can be run on hillier circuits.
AND finally to weekend run training – Firstly to the run after a long ride, as we are in race phase, short runs of around 25-40mins off long rides are great at helping the athlete find rhythm early off the bike. Finding your running rhythm early after the bike will see you running faster earlier in the marathon when you are most fresh. This can see you make significant gains on your competition.
NOTE - I don’t see any need in completing massive long bike rides and then tacking on a long run after, on a regular basis. This type of training just overly fatigues and stops you training quality for days after.
Last but not least is the long run! – It’s the most important run session of them all. Don’t skimp on it, depending on ability, regular weekly runs of 2:00hrs to 2:30hrs underpin your running training. They help you develop into an efficient running machine. These can be run at easy aerobic right up to solid sustainable intensities. BUT if in doubt, go long and easy with this session, it’s the time on your legs which is important.
Note – These insights above are quite broad and apply to a certain athletic ability. Completing low intensity training almost exclusively on the run definitely can have its place with athletes new to running and the marathon.
Looking at an Ironman event, as you progress through each leg, you gradually become more fatigued. So time lost with a poor performance becomes more magnified as you progress through the day. In the marathon it is most evident, and you should aim to go in with lots of leg strength and endurance. The quality running you did coupled with endurance training will see you running a faster marathon off the bike.
Be very clear about the purposes of each of your training phases going in to your prep. Why am I doing this and what outcomes do I hope to achieve? Consistently completing these ideal sessions over time will see a more consistent performance come race day over all legs of the ironman.
One final tip – slow means slow, if you are recovering between efforts or told to run easy, run easy. Running at say 75-79%mhr when you shouldn’t be won’t help you one bit. It’s too slow to make you fast, but it’s too fast to help you recover.
Ride for show, run for dough.