Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Tri Talk Tuesday: Improving the Run Leg of a Triathlon

It's the first Tuesday of the month so that means another edition of Tri Talk Tuesday!  This month my co-hosts Cynthia and Courtney and I are talking about my favourite leg of the race:  The RUN.  Running is my strength and it's usually where I make up a lot of ground in a triathlon. 

So without further ado, here are my top tips for acing the last leg of the race.


The run may be my strength but that does not mean that I am an efficient runner by any stretch.  I've learned this the hard way by pushing and pushing myself only to end up suffering knee issues for the last year and a bit due to my lack of proper run form.  I've been working on rectifying this over the last few months.  While I'm making progress, it is very slow going.  It will probably take a year before my new gait feels normal.  Proper technique will make you faster so it's worth your time to work on it.  Don't know where to start?  Find someone who offers a gait analysis.  It could be a run coach or a physiotherapist or sports doc.  Get in front of a camera, have someone asses your gait and most importantly, help you fix it.  I've been working on my form for the last few months and I've found that not only is it making me a faster runner, I'm more comfortable running off the bike.  I'm not sure if it's because I'm using my glutes and hamstrings more and not relying so much on my quads but whatever it may be, I think making sure you have good form is of utmost importance.


Running off the bike is no easy feat.  Your legs always feel like crap and it takes a while for you to find your stride.  If you want to shorten the time it takes for you to get into a groove, incorporate a weekly brick into your training.  What is a brick you ask?  It's a ride followed immediately by a run. As I get closer to race day, these workouts are the meat and potatoes of my training.  I will do a shorter, high intensity ride followed by a short high intensity run during the week and then on the weekend I will do what I call an endurance brick, which is a longer ride followed by a longer run.  If you're racing a 70.3 or an Ironman these longer workouts are a great time to practice your race day fueling strategy.  How you fare on the run leg of the race will be directly impacted by how well you fuel on the bike and how hard you go.  Pace yourself, especially if you're going long.  It only takes one bonk to know that you don't ever want to go down that road again. 


Measuring your cadence isn't just for the bike.  The faster your turnover is, the less time you spend smashing your feet on the ground.  This is a good thing because it will help you avoid impact related injuries.   It will also help you get faster.  How do you measure that?  Well, if you're lucky you've got a Garmin 920xt that will tell you.   If you don't have that then what I've done is pick a foot and count the number of times it hits the ground in a minute, then multiply it by two.  The ideal running cadence is around 180 steps per minute.   I'm usually around 177-178 for most of my runs - I'm trying to get to 180 for all my runs but it's tough.  When I'm racing I'm actually mid 180's.   This is some of the data from Saturday's 10km race.

This is pretty self explanatory

Jeff Galloway has a very simple drill that you can do once a week to help you focus on cadence.   Since I've started working on my gait, I've incorporated these drills into my weekly workouts.

What other tips do you have for improving the run leg of a triathlon?  Be sure to check out the other blogs in the link up for more great tips!

We'll be back again on June 2nd, talking about the 4th leg of triathlon - TRANSITIONS.  Woohooo!


Kelli said...

I observe the same thing with my cadence. Intervals and racing I am above 180 but otherwise I also tend to be in the 170s. I try to work on cadence but for aerobic efforts I can't quite make it work without feeling like my strides are too short.

Sandra Laflamme said...

I definitely need to get more bricks in this year. Hopefully I can start soon. Now that the weather is better I'll finally be back on the road. Love your tips about running cadence. I am sure that I can definitely improve upon that!

Cassandra @ Powered By BLING said...

Cadence is the next area I need to work on. I've spent the last year just trying to be consistent in my running and getting my intervals down. Thanks goodness for my running coach because he just tells me what to do and I use that pace.

But, for my next challenge, I'm planning to work on cadence!