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Who wants to struggle?

25 July 2010 5 Comments

Around the area where I live, there are lots of cyclists, runners and walkers out on the roads every day. On an average day over a thousand cyclists would pass our house. Riders of all abilities. There’d probably be several hundred runners and walkers go through this neighbourhood each day.

It’s easy to pick the triathletes, especially those training for longer races. With their compression socks, or their fuel belts and always wearing something which has Ironman printed on it somewhere.

It always amazes me that so many are out there just practicing struggle. Is it any wonder that when they race, they trudge through the run in pain. Grinding along so inefficiently that they’re actually handicapping themselves.

I’m about the give away a clue which can make running the times you’ve dreamed about possible. I’m not worried at all about someone getting the secret for nothing. I’m happy to share. I also know that a huge majority of triathletes out there can’t be told, and will not seriously do what I’m suggesting. This is something for the open minded athlete.

Instead of trudging through long endurance runs, do some walking. I’m not suggesting running as far as you can and then when you’re totally beaten, walking home.

I’m suggesting running for five minutes with good running form (that’s running tall, looking straight ahead, belly held in, wrists loose and hands relaxed, leading each stride with the knees, landing right below your hip and simply pushing the ground back), then walking with the same attention to form for 30 steps.

Every time the clock reaches five minutes, walk with good form for 30 steps, then run off with the stress released from your legs muscles. Keep doing this for the duration of your long endurance runs. You’ll find it takes 15sec to walk 30 paces. You’ll find that after each walk, you return to running technically well and actually cover more ground. You’ll also find you can maintain a higher leg turnover rate throughout the run.

Once you have left your ego at home and settled int this method, you’ll find less back pain, less tightness in the calves and you’ll find you recover from the long runs faster.

This is not new. Successful ultra runners have been doing this for years. If you’re an Ironman triathlete, you are an ultra runner. The best way to train for a successful Ironman marathon is not to train like it’s a marathon. You need to train like it’s an ultramarathon.

Remember when you go out there to train, it’s training, not straining. Any fool can suffer.


  • Richard Cahill said:

    I’m an advocate of the walk/run when recovering from injury, and I’ve found that the injury very rarely re appears provided the recovery is done right. I agree with you that a short walk whilst on a long run does relieve the stress in the legs, however my worry has been that I could become too used to this and find myself doing it on race day and lead to slower times. Should this be a concern?

  • Bennysmith said:

    I agree on the suffering Al. I often see people simply people “running” by simply briefly pushing away from the planet, instead of moving forward. It’s like the planet has them on an elastic leash and is pounding them at will.
    It’s a pity, running can be such a statement of strength.

  • Allan Pitman said:

    Hi Richard
    At the recent level three coaching course, I had the chance to talk to Bobby McGee the famous running coach from Boulder. He told me that Gordo Byrn had done a 1.15 x 21km run at the end of a HIM by doing the walk run method on race day.

    I know of a couple of age group wunners in IM races who have used this method during the race. I intend to do this in Hawaii this year. When I get off the bike, my mission will be to get to the first aid station, i’ll walk 20 paces then run to the next one. My training will be geared toward this approach.

    I’m sure most runners who really don’t enjoy running, don’t realise that if they work with gravity, instead of working against it, the whole experience will be more enjoyable.

  • Paul F said:

    Nice tip in there Allan. been using the run/walk protocol myself since 2008 with great success due to some nerve damage I have under the soles of my feet.

    It’s amazing how much your running economy can improve IF you remove some of the fatigue with walk intervals. We do it in the pool and on the bike, why not for the run????


  • Richard Cahill said:

    For age groupers training for IM, Cam Brown once stated in a Triathlete Magazine article that no run session should exceed 2hrs. He advised that if your program says mid week long run 2.40hrs, to run no more than 2hrs in the morning session, and later in the afternoon finish the session with a 40 min run. This will keep legs fresher, assisting recovery for the longer bike run session on the weekend.
    Would you agree with this approach, or leave the mid week long run session as the one complete session.

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