For the sake of this article, the focus will be specifically on running for the Ironman.
Running has been one of my favorite sports since childhood. Many people think running is just running, but when you break down the technique and training programs, running is much more.
Some people only run when they are chased or miss the bus, but today I am talking about training to increase speed, endurance, and excitement.
For the running enthusiasts out there, I now follow kind of a hybrid of pose running and evolution running. I traded in my cushioned shoes for minimalist running shoes.
My current style focuses on forefoot landing, higher cadence (steps per minute), forward lean (let gravity pull you forward), and heel pull (as opposed to “pushing off.”
My times are much faster and I can run on concrete for long runs and consecutive runs with zero pain and I go about 180 lbs (last time I checked).
For a couple months straight I focused on running form and drills to instill this new style to the point where I do not have to think about it anymore. Then I could focus more on raising the intensity and volume of my running. The efforts paid off and I could not be happier.
Basically, if you watch a barefoot runner, like the champion Kenyans, you will get an idea of this great style. So running went from just “trying harder” and “pounding the pavement” to artwork.
I highly recommend for anyone who was frustrated with running times or running pain to give pose and evolution running a shot. It has worked miracles for many and returns you back to the way you are designed to run. Hint-it’s not with big cushioned shoes and landing on your heel.
Okay, next lets get into the program design I am using for the run portion of the Ironman.
Basically, I broke down my running training into four categories. The sections are aerobic endurance, muscle endurance, anaerobic endurance, and form/speed work.
Aerobic Endurance is basically my Ironman race pace (which will be coming after a long bike ride). It feels comfortable like I could go for hours and it relies on a larger percentage of fat for energy.
Muscle Endurance for my purposes is a speed that I can maintain for over three minutes. I like to train muscular endurance with intervals. I’ll usually break it up into mile, two mile and three mile intervals.
Following each interval I will walk for 60 to 90 seconds or jog easy for one to two minutes. This pace feels comfortably uncomfortable. I like to do these to get used to running faster than race pace, which makes race pace feel smooth.
I will also train my muscular endurance with weekly threshold runs for intervals of 20-40 minutes.
Anaerobic Endurance is a speed that I can maintain for up to about three minutes. This is where the fun is. This is uncomfortable; it burns your legs and your lungs. I like to go as fast as I can go in good form. I train my anaerobic endurance on the treadmill on an incline, a hill, the road, or a track. I usually walk to recover for 60-90 seconds or more. I need to walk to allow me to go fast once again. Jogging in between does not allow enough recovery.
I have to admit, this is my favorite style of training. It gets the heart rate flying, sets the lungs on fire, makes the legs and arms feel heavy, and the endorphin rush is immense.
I train for speed as well as endurance because I like to do shorter races (both on and off road) as well as the long races and triathlons.
The structure of my routine is geared toward “Raising the Aerobic Line.” Basically the better I get at the faster intervals and the longer I can hold them with less and less recovery. Then the faster I can run and still stay aerobic.
I will continue to progress by going faster at each given distance, and by reducing rest periods, and increasing the number of intervals.
For Ironman triathlons, the key is to stay as aerobic as you can during the race to allow you to use more fat as energy to spare your glycogen for the long haul. Now there will be times when you sprint for position or first enter the water where you will go anaerobic so it is important to be able to bounce back and recover quickly to fall back down into your personal aerobic level.
Staying Aerobic is the key to success in endurance multi-sports and especially Ironman Triathlons.
The other tool that I have added to my toolbox is speed and form work. Like mentioned earlier, my new technique has added much new fun and speed.
I will do form and speed work both before and after my run training. One trick that works really well is to do a specific drill for a specific element (like heel pull.) Then run a length focusing on that feeling. Then return to the drill and repeat an interval of running after every drill. This ingrains the technique into my nervous system, and it’s fun.
Running is one of the most elemental sports you can do, and I will always be a fan and will continue to learn and expand my horizons. I have enjoyed everything from 400m races, to 10ks, to marathons, to Xterra 21k Trail Races and I can’t wait to run the final leg of the Ironman in exactly 4 weeks.
Next article we can discuss the biking and swimming.