Before you read this, please get yourself a drink, and then read while sitting down, as while it is the secret to our Ironman success, it's not what you're likely to read anywhere else. You're in for a shock!
Below are some take aways from run lectures at my triathlon camps. The first is a heading I write on the white board when I arrive at the lecture room:
* How to walk your way to a faster run split! Yes, we don't encourage toe striking, or ball of the feet striking for a fast marathon. Why?
Even if you are a pro you have worked for 5-5.5 hours of swimming and biking before you even put your running shoes on. So an age group athlete could be out there for at least 6 hours or more before starting the run. There is no way you're going to run well with a technique that requires leg strength to propel you (especially over 42km). Thus:-
* We take power out of the stride! This is self descriptive - as you have already drained power on the bike before starting the run.
* Aim for a movement with consistent cadence for the whole distance. This will deliver far superior results.
* We try to avoid the word technique. Instead replace it with a better description of what we can understand - 'movement'.
* Hands dictate the leg cadence. We work at keeping the hands / arm movement to a minimum. The shorter the arm movement the higher will be the leg cadence.
* Keep the upper body movement to a minimum to conserve upper energy usage. We try to teach the arms not to cross the center line. Also to keep hands where we can see them. Thus keeping the shoulder movement to a minimum.
Any body still here?
If so now here are some facts you are not told, but are very true, and it impacts on our philosophy.
* Heel strike is not a big error. It is the way to the promised land of quicker run splits over long distances. Here is a study, they don't publish very much in tri mags:-
Photo Credit: Timothy Carlson
We don't fight the facts here, because this is not an athletics track meet. Rather a survival test, and whoever can be the most consistent in the last 3 to 4 hours will have the superior race result.
* Weight distribution is the most important factor for traveling long distance effectively! We encourage athletes to carry their upper body upright and over the center of gravity. We don't, I repeat, we don't encourage our athletes to lean forward. No! This is a very important instruction. Which leads to this statement..
* Head up and look to the horizon not to the ground! Here is a fact to contemplate. Think of a kettle bell. Now even better go to the gym and pick one up. If you're female pick up the 6kg one. If male take up an 8kg bell. Ladies and gentleman you are now holding the same weight as your head! Now think of 42km holding that 10cm in front of your shoulders. What is the most efficient way to carry this weight for 3 to 4 hours?
Here is another fact, that I have little or no information on in triathlon bibliography. Again we encourage that we don't lean forward.
Here is a short video that may help you put your head position into perspective, with effective weight of the head in various positions - Text Neck Syndrome
If it doesn't help you with your technique, maybe I've just helped you understand where some of your neck and upper back problems may be stemming from.
* Shoe'ing is the most important factor in horse racing!
But I'm not a horse I hear you say. However please understand that with horses, no matter if the training shoe is steel or a lighter titanium racing plate, the angle of the shoe must never change. A tiny change and the horse will become lame for 3 days!
Horseshoes have the same angle whether training or racing shoes. In humans we call this the drop or heel height of the shoe. How many of you have the same angles / heel height on both your training and your race shoes?
Let me speculate. You don't know what I'm even talking about. So, again this may help you realize why you have so many after race injuries. You are wearing completely different shoes, with different angles even if usually the same brand. In summer in St. Moritz I go down to watch athletes on the running track (and I don't mean my athletes). I'm astonished, as some have three pairs of shoes. One pair to jog to the track. One pair of sleek race flats or spikes - you may assume that I'm talking about track runners, but no, I'm talking some very large triathlon federations! I have yet to see someone wearing spikes in a triathlon - but here they are, and some age groupers have them too, as they 'blast' 1 min 30 secs for a 400m.
It astonishes me, nearly as much as when I talk to a big burley man who may be 90kg and say why do you use them; and he pointed straight to who happens to be Mo Farah and says 'look that's what he does and look how fast he is?' What does one say about that logic? His left thigh weighed more than Mr Farah's both legs put together.
By now there might be only five people left, still reading this blog. That's exactly how I like it, because you five are going to get the gold. You follow the above and you can cut up to 15 minutes off your Ironman run split with a minimum amount of practice.
And if you are one that just can't run that last 10km but needs to walk and doesn't know why - 'I feel okay but my body just won't do it', then follow this, and you may 'walk' your way to a 30 minute to an hour faster run split.
Photo Credit: Asia Tri