Do you have a growing interest in the multi-discipline sport of triathlon? From raw beginner to seasoned athlete upping fitness levels and improving running technique are what everyone concentrates on, to improve overall personal-best times.
Although each discipline requires its own training and techniques to reduce times, running is often where improved know-how and discipline can significantly impact triathlon race times. In this blog, we consider seven ways to get faster in triathlon running.
Get the right kit for the job
Firstly, while a pair of trainers may be adequate footwear for a short daily jog around the park, the correct equipment is vitally important when triathlon running becomes a main hobby. With all the equipment available, fit-for-purpose running shoes should be top of the list.
Pounding the tarmac – getting the run right
Whether swimming, cycling or running, an effective technique that provides maximum output for minimum energy expenditure will always win in long-distance competitions. However, in triathlon competition, the correlation between the T2 and T3 legs is likely to produce the biggest gains overall.
Improving cycling technique can improve running times
Maintaining a regular cycling rhythm over the second leg, can help prepare your legs for the final phase of the race. This is why the use of ‘brick’ training, training for each discipline separately, can have such a big overall effect on your completion times.
There is no perfect cycling cadence for all. While many aim for a rhythm of 90-100rpm, other triathletes find a level of 80-85rpm is more suited to their style, helping them maintain running pace over the final leg.
Prepare for the run – by refueling on the bike
Whether long or short, triathlons are tough, grueling competitions that sap the energy from body and mind. The cycling leg is the ideal time to rehydrate and top up depleted glycose reserves for the final discipline, and should be incorporated as a part of your regular training and race plan.
Work on around 70-90 grams of carbs per hour during the bike phase, and rehydrate as weather conditions and sweat levels dictate. Consider using a sports energy drink over the last couple of miles as a mouthwash, to give an extra energy boost for the start of the final leg.
Run with your head high
With often an hour or more spent hunched over the handlebars to minimise drag, many triathlon newcomers leap off the bike and start their run still hunched over, looking at the ground a few feet in front of them.
It is a scenario not encountered during brick training, when you jump on the treadmill or hit the road for a five-mile run with your head high, looking into the distance. Often a determined effort is required to get the body back into the normal running posture as quickly as possible, with head, upper body and hips aligned above the feet.
You may also find that the body feels tense after the cycling leg, especially in the early days of triathlon competition. Running tall will help reduce stiffness, as will keeping neck and shoulders loose and your fists unclenched.
Find a breathing rhythm that suits you
In almost every kind of sport you choose to mention, from shooting to swimming to running, an efficient breathing rhythm plays a big part in improving results.
For most, it is generally recognised that a 3-3 rhythm, three steps when you breathe in and three when you breathe out, or a 2-2 rhythm, tend to be the norm and most effective overall. These maximise the supply of oxygen to the blood and lungs while helping reduce the likelihood of the dreaded side stitch.
Find your optimum pace
While brick training will help improve your mastery of each discipline, full triathlon training is needed to work on the pace you will require for each section to maintain a competitive speed throughout the race.
Without a sustainable pace rate for each discipline over the entire race, you may find yourself smashing the cycle section, with nothing left in the tank for the run home.
Finally, if you’ve changed from a daily jogger to one of the thousands of serious amateur runners located up and down the country, there is a plethora of information and top quality kit out there to help with all areas of your training and racing regime.