Get better at running long and slow for Ironman


Running at ‘Ironman pace’ can often be unnatural for triathletes as it’s different to strength–based, fast running with quick rhythmical movements.

In most competitions we race faster than we train, but in an Ironman marathon our pace is often considerably slower than our easy running pace.

The solution to this is running on grass or off road because this closely mimics Ironman running. Having to pick up your legs with a fast leg turnover will help to replicate the fatigue you will be feeling in an Ironman marathon.

Here are some more common problems when making the move up in distance, and their respective solutions.

1. The ‘Ironman shuffle’

Problem

Dialling into predicted IM marathon pace/practising the Ironman shuffle.

Solution

Your arm action dictates your stride length so whatever your right arm and right hand does your left leg mimics.

Swinging your arms too far forward/too far back is the main reason for over striding, causing you to run too fast then slow down.

You need to run with your hands parallel to your elbows and make shorter, quicker arm actions – this will allow you to achieve the Ironman shuffle.

2. Correct form

Problem

Struggling with correct form when running slower than normal.

Solution

Run steady then walk as soon as your form changes – imagine you’re walking through a feed station. Over many weeks you will be able to run non-stop at the desired pace more economically.

3. Too fast

Problem

Running too fast in training.

Solution

Rather than running straight off the bike wait for around an hour. Once your body is in recovery mode you should find Ironman marathon pace much more comfortable and natural.

A ‘Steady Eddie’ pace is far more conducive to an overall faster performance than running fast then walking. For example, a consistent 9min/mile will give you a 3:54hr marathon (IM ‘shuffling’ pace for some). Running at 8min/mile and having to walk 6 miles will take you 16 minutes longer to complete the IM marathon.

It’s vital that you’re able to run at your predicted IM pace in training (30-50mins slower than standalone fresh marathon pace).

Establish how far/for how long you can run at your predicted IM marathon pace before losing form then walk and repeat. The best IM athletes are also great at running at a much slower pace than their fresh 10km race pace while being exceptionally economical. But again, they always practise their race pace in training.

Core fitness can make a huge difference when it comes to running at Ironman marathon pace, too. Working on it three times a week for as little as 5-15mins will make a big difference. Above all, be patient – it can take months to join the dots but you will be rewarded for your efforts. I promise!

(From Triathlon 220 online)

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