The days of winning triathlons with a strong swim and bike and hanging on for the run are long over. Triathlon is so competitive now you cannot afford to be weak in any of the three disciplines, especially the run. If you can run faster off the bike then the rest of your competition then you are pretty much assured a good race result. Because it is so difficult to run fast off the bike, the run remains the greatest discriminator among triathletes. Becoming the fastest runner possible will dramatically improve your race performance. You may be asking how do I do it? Listed below are some of things my athletes are doing.
The best time to improve your running fitness is in the pre-season and in the early base building months of the year. I like to have my athletes focus on running during the initial 2-3 months of their training and I encourage them to do so, even at the expense of swimming and cycling. It is very difficult to simultaneously make big improvements in all three disciplines. Therefore, in the pre-season while the triathlete is focusing on the run, he/she will perform only limited and specific swim and bike training. Gradually the duration and intensity of the swim and bike will increase as the start of the season approaches. But the constant focus throughout the pre-season is the run.
I encourage my athletes to enter road races during the pre-season. By establishing running race goals we are able to break the long triathlon season into smaller sections and incrementally increase our triathlon fitness without focusing on specific triathlon training the entire year. We also avoid the temptation of trying to cram our training in all three disciplines at once. I ease the athlete back into shape by focusing on the run and entering road races. Road races have the added benefit of keeping the athlete interested and motivated. By running we avoid long dark hours in the basement on the trainer. Thus when the weather finally warms up the athlete is chomping at the bit to ride outdoors and is not totally burned out with the bike due to excessive trainer riding. My pre-season goal for each athlete is to have him/her enter their first triathlon of the year in the best recent running shape of his or her lives.
Oftentimes, after a successful triathlon pre-season running program I am able to decrease the total miles the triathlete runs and focus on developing running speed off the bike. We are then able to devote more training time on the swim and bike, and refine the training focus on the run. This means we do multiple brick runs per week and perform drills that teach the skills necessary to run fast off the bike. During the early season, bike and swim mileage increases as does and run intensity, while total running miles will decrease.
Having an excellent running leg in the triathlon is the best way to beat your competition. Everyone is tired coming off the bike. The fastest pure runners often aren’t the best triathlete runners. The best triathlete runners are those that have swam and biked within themselves and still have enough energy to run fast. Fast brick runs require excellent race management skills, implementing the proper race fuel and hydration plan, excellent mental attitude, high pain tolerance, and lots of hard work. I will teach you how to get the most out of your body and run faster off the bike.