Figuring out how to post your fastest possible marathon time in an Ironman can certainly be challenging and hopefully these two training tips for a faster Ironman Triathlon marathon will provide you with some ideas.
There is a bit of a misconception that running mega long distances in training will improve your Ironman marathon results, but that’s really a small part of the equation.
If anything, you risk injury by running further than necessary in your Ironman run training.
I remember reading what Dave Scott had to say about training for an Ironman and it went something like this….
If you can do half the distance of the run and bike in training and feel like you could do more, than it’s not really necessary to increase the distance or feel that you have to bike the full 112-miles or run the full 26.2 miles in training time after time.
Sure, try a 20 mile run once if it will boost your confidence, but the law of diminishing returns come into play if you push yourself to do it over and over again.
There is a risk of chronic fatigue from constant over-training and worse yet, an injury that could seriously impact your training year or ultimately, your race.
Here are two training suggestions that might just really help improve your Ironman marathon result.
This type of training is the most basic and easiest to implement into your training program.
There is no feeling in the world quite like the one in store for you when you get off your spiffy tri-bike after 112 miles and take those first few steps and realize you have 26.2 miles yet to run.
Running right after biking in your training is one of the best ways to grow accustomed to what your legs will feel like on race day.
If you could manage to do a bike-run transition training session twice a week it would really make a difference on race day.
In can be as simple as biking 10 miles on your wind-trainer followed immediately by a 4 mile run.
Or it can be as challenging as biking 60 miles followed by a 10 mile run.
There is really no need to bike 100 miles and then run 20 miles to feel what effect the bike will have as you make the transition into the run.
I would suggest starting out with short distances and increasing it over the weeks and months of your training season.
The key is to make the transition time as short as possible so you feel the full effect.
It you finish your 20 mile bike ride at 2 p.m. and run 4 miles at 3 p.m. you will not feel the full effect of the transition from the bike to the run.
One of my favorite training sessions was a 40k(25-mile) bike on my wind-trainer followed immediately after(within 30 seconds–that’s why I use a wind-trainer)by a 10k(6-mile) run.
The key thing to remember whether you are biking out on the road or on your wind-trainer in the basement is to get those running shoes on as soon as possible.
I don’t think there are too many people out there who even like thinking about hill training, but it can have a very positive effect on your Ironman marathon both physically and psychologically.
So maybe just grit your teeth and try hill-training once a week for six weeks in the latter stages of your training as Ironman day approaches.
Should you decide to give this hill training program a try be sure to plan to have all six weeks finished a full four weeks before your race.
Find a hill that is long and gradual with a flat stretch on the top that extends 200/300 meters.
(keep in mind that I’m not a coach, but just passing on what worked best for me after many years of experimentation). You can take it or leave it or perhaps adapt it in a way that might suit you better.
It would be great if the hill you picked was a 15-20 minute easy run from your home.
Your run to the hill would serve as your warm-up and the run home after the hill repeats would be your cool-down. Either way, make sure you warm-up before and cool-down after your hill workout.
From the minute you begin your warm-up run you won’t stop running until you finish the hill repeats and your cool-down run.
When you get to the base of the hill for the first time, run up the hill with a strong steady pace that you can maintain all the way up to the top. You may have to experiment with this, but you will get a feel for it very quickly.
When you crest the hill to where it flattens out pick a point 200-300 meters away(220-320 yards) and that point (not the top of the hill) will be the end of your first repeat, but don’t stop running once you get there.
Use a landmark like a tree, building, or telephone pole because this will be your turn-around point for every repeat you do.
Turn around once you have reached the marker you have picked and run easily back down to where you started at the bottom of the hill, then turn around again and do it all over again and again and again…..Do three repeats in your first week and increase it by one every week for six weeks.
At the end of the last repeat for the session don’t stop running. Run easily for 15-20 minutes to cool down.
As I said in the beginning, you don’t stop running at any point during your hill-training session.
he reason for this is to instill in your mind that hills are not going to stop you or slow you down…that you are going to face them head-on and defeat them.
You will find that the easy, relaxed run(jog)back down the hill will bring your heart-rate way down and will serve as your rest and recovery as you prepare to take your heart-rate back up on the next repeat.
If you followed this program to the letter, by the sixth week you will be doing 8 repeats and then you will be done….Done in every sense of the word, but boy will you be ready for those hills on race day.
Depending on your conditioning(and ambition)you may decide to start with one hill repeat and increase it by one every week and by the sixth week be at six repeats.
Most people have the same reaction when they run up a hill in a race…….Oh thank God! I finally made it to the top!..and then they slow down or stop running altogether because it took so much out of them.
Or worse yet, they walk most of the way up the hill because it had them beat mentally and physically even before started on the way up.
There’s nothing wrong and there’s no shame in walking anywhere in the Ironman marathon if you just want to finish the Ironman anyway you can, but this article is about improving your marathon time and I suppose that’s why you’re reading it.
By maintaining your steady pace without stopping once you crest the hill and doing the entire workout without walking from start to finish you are changing your mindset when it comes to hills and will begin to look at hills differently in a race.
Instead of dreading that looming hill you will be ready to take it on and when everyone is fading at the top you will be maintaining your pace because you have been in that very same spot so many times in your training.
You will no longer be conditioned to slow down or stop every time you reach a hill.
Believe me…being prepared for hills mentally as well as physically is a HUGE advantage on race day and will most certainly improve your Ironman marathon result.