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Run Training for 70.3 and IMSA

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In this blog, we are going to discuss run training for a 70.3 or IRONMAN distance race.

The run section is probably the most important section of the race, as it’s where the most significant changes take place.

It is vital that you are properly prepared for the run, and this involves including the correct types of sessions in training as well as knowing how to pace yourself on race day.

Our advice is to work on the following in your build up to race day:

The Long Run:

If you are a beginner training for an IRONMAN 70.3 or IRONMAN event, you need to include 1 long run per week in your training. Gradually increase the distance of this run to approximately 1hr30 for 70.3 athletes and to 2hr30 for IRONMAN athletes.

Your longest training run should be done 6 weeks before race day, so as to ensure fresh legs.
Initially, do these runs as long, easy mileage utilizing the same nutrition plan as you intend using in the race. Once you can do the distance comfortably, you can start mixing up the long sessions with a couple of tempo km’s or focus on working the hills at a slightly harder pace.

Speed Work:

After you have built a solid base, you can work on increasing your speed on the run and learn how to hold a specific pace for a longer period. You need to learn what pace you can maintain for the race distance, without blowing up or slowing down to a walk.Include some tempo sessions, alternating your pace so as to get used to running at a faster speed.

Interval training is an excellent way to increase speed. Sessions can be done on a track for regular guaranteed distances, so also a good way to judge improvements. Vary the speed sessions between longer intervals of up to 2km’s and shorter sets of 200,400 and 800’s.
In the earlier part of the season, do the longer sets with active recovery between sets (easy jogging). As you get closer to race day, do shorter speed sets and increase the rest period to recover completely between sets. Be sure to warm up and cool down sufficiently before any interval sessions.

This is where it becomes important to have a coach’s advice and training plan with detailed, constructive sessions throughout the season, thus ensuring that you do the correct type of speed work at the right time, and also to help prevent injury or over use niggles.

Hill Work:

Hill work is a great way to build power on your run. To avoid injury, introduce hills slowly. On the uphill, adjust your pace and then keep your attention focused on maintaining that pace.
Lean forward and use your arms to power up the hill. On the way down, focus on maintaining good running form while letting gravity help you recover. Start on a fairly gradual hill and with two repeats, and increase the number of repeats every two to three weeks.

Brick Work Outs:

In order to prepare your legs for that heavy, sluggish or jelly-like feeling off the bike, include brick training into your sessions. Start with an easy 10 -15min run straight off your long ride, and gradually increase the distance as your fitness and strength increases. This is also a perfect way to practice your transitions.

Pacing:

Correct pacing on the bike and run also plays a vital role in a successful 70.3 or IRONMAN distance run. Ease off in the last 10km of the bike and try to stretch the legs out a bit. Then start the run easy and build as you recover and feel stronger. Starting off too hard will only result in a blow up later on in the race.

Talk to your coach long before the race and work out a game plan, based on your abilities and training, and stick with it.

Training Tip from our top pro triathlete – Dianne McEwan:

"In triathlon, there is a saying "It's all about the bike, because it’s all about the run". This has many meanings, but most importantly, pacing on the bike is all important. We don't want to waste valuable matches or unnecessary energy. We want to try to keep our effort on the bike as constant as possible, as every spike / hard effort burns matches and these we pay for later on.
This is especially hard to do in East London because of the undulating nature of the terrain. So for this course you need to learn how to really ride the down-hills with a similar effort to what you climb. The climb must be done at a pace that will enable you to do so.

You want to ride the 90km without needing to freewheel or take it easy just to catch your breath from a hard effort. A power meter helps with this, but if you don't have one, you need to play around and find that middle ground for yourself in training”

Remember that most people will go through a bad patch at some point in the day, and in an IRONMAN, everyone will be suffering in the last 10km. It’s a long day out there and anything can happen, so take the day as it comes and if problems arise, deal with them and keep moving forward.

This blog is aimed mainly at beginners and includes very basic explanations of activities to improve your speed and endurance on the run. As a beginner, alternating between 1 tempo, speed or hill session per week is sufficient. I do advise all beginners to work under the guidance of a coach, specifically when introducing any interval or speed sessions so as to prevent any injuries.

Annah Watkinson - Race Report IM Brazil 2017

After a great first year racing in the professional category in 2016, I was amped for the 2017 season. Feeling stronger and fitter and more in the "right head space" - I had done some great training over December spending many many many (and many more) hours on the bike - I loved it. My swim was starting to click, I was starting to understand the phrase "feel the water", and my running was strong

READ ONAnnah Watkinson - Race Report IM Brazil 2017
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