COACH JIM'S TRI TIPS: HOW TO RUN BETTER OFF THE BIKE
It’s a fairly common issue for triathletes to struggle on the run at the end of a race, no matter the distance. Fatigue sets in, cadence slows down, and your pace starts to decrease. If this is a normal occurrence for you, then it is worth trying out these training and racing tips.
Commit to post workout and race nutrition & hydration — Immediately after every workout and race, take time to get post-exercise nutrition & hydration in. Shoot for a 4:1 ratio of carbs to protein in the 300-500 calorie range. Some ideas are: 1 medium sweet potato with 2 tablespoons of almond butter; 1/2 cup (dry) oatmeal with 2 tablespoons dried tart cherries; 2 oz (dry) whole wheat pasta with 1/4 cup tomato sauce, 1 cup broccoli, and 2/3 cup green beans
Commit to post workout and race dynamic stretching and myofascial release — Immediately after every workout and race, commit to stretching and rolling (or massage gun or compression boots). Overly tight muscles or fascia can lead to a snowball rolling down a hill effect if you don’t address it right away. If you can’t do this right after your workout, then make sure to get it in at the end of the day.
Strengthen your core and stabilizing muscles — Strength training is often the first thing to be dropped by athletes if their schedule is tight. Our focus for strength training isn’t to bulk up, but to improve strength endurance, stability, and sport-specific strength. Sport-specific strength looks like pull sets in the pool, hill repeats or big gear, low cadence work on the bike, and hill repeats on the run. To improve your strength endurance and stability include twice weekly core work such as: prone, frontal, and supine planks; banded straight leg lifts, banded clamshells, banded lateral walks, banded squat walks; and hamstring focused work like single leg Romanian deadlifts, single leg glute bridges, stability ball (or elevated) hamstring curls.
Include brick runs in your training on a weekly basis — Depending on what your focus is for the week, include a weekly brick run off at least one brick run per week. Some examples: 30 -60 minute bike before a long run; 30-60 minute run after a long bike; 15 minute run after hill repeats or speed work on the bike.
Improve your swim form — Triathlon is about managing your energy throughout the race so that you can finish strong at the end of the race. Improving your body position in the water means less wasted energy. Working with a swim coach who is familiar with open water swimming will help you on race day.
Nail your bike nutrition & hydration — The term “ride for show, run for dough” applies here, especially for long course racing. How you fuel your bike has a direct impact on your ability to run strong. At Playtri we work with our athletes to build a nutrition & hydration plan that is science-based and tailored to the intensity of their race.
Work on your run form and cadence — Regularly working on running tall, with relaxed arms, and a high cadence (above 170 steps per minute) will help on race day. To improve your run cadence try this 30 minute workout:
Warm up for 5 minutes, gradually moving from a walk to a run.
Walk 1 minute, Run 4 minutes with a cadence that is 2-5 steps per minute faster than your current preferred cadence. Use a metronome or music to guide your feet and visualize your new run cadence during the walk breaks. Repeat 1 minute walk, 4 minutes run four times. (If your cadence drops below your goal cadence, take a short walk break and then start up again.)
Cool down with 5 minutes of walking.
Adopt a run/walk strategy for training and racing — Accept that walking during the run portion of a triathlon is not a sign of weakness, but an opportunity to strategically bring your heart rate down, visualize good run form and cadence, and get nutrition & hydration in at aid stations. The vast majority of Playtri athletes use a run/walk strategy for their races whether it is walking the aid stations or walking one minute for every 4, 9, 14, or 19 minutes.
Jim Rowe is a Playtri Level 4 Coach and a USAT LI Certified Coach who works with adult athletes of all abilities from beginners to IRONMAN World Championship qualifiers. Learn more about Jim at www.playtri.com/jim-rowe