Get Faster in Triathlon Running

  • Lose Weight – The first thing you can do to be faster in the run portion of any triathlon is to drop a few pounds. Certainly, you want to do this in a wise and measured way. Losing a half a pound to a pound a week is more than reasonable especially if you are putting in the time it takes to train for a triathlon and eating the right kinds of food. Losing just 5 pounds of weight can improve your mile pace time by 10-30 seconds depending on the distance of the race. Think about how much that 5 pounds will be carried by your feet and legs over whatever distance run course you are racing on. To get a good idea of what just five pounds off of your frame feels like, take a 5 pound weight and carry it around for 3-5 miles as you run. You won’t feel an incredible amount of the weight in the first mile or so, but after 3 miles you will certainly wish you had those five pounds off. Losing just a few pounds will improve your time without any additional effort on your part, plus you will just feel better.
  • Proper Fuel – This particular area is one that comes with trial and error. By the time you are getting to the run in any triathlon, you have already swam and biked some distance. If you are doing some of the longer races you might have biked up to 6 hours before you ever get to the run. Proper fueling will help you to get onto the run feeling good about yourself and be able to maintain a solid pace throughout the course. In each of these races, I began the run feeling okay, but by the time I hit mile 3 or 4 I was wasted and bonking. My legs were shaking like leaves and I ended up running a much slower time than I am capable of. Through lots of trial and error, I eventually came up with the right mix for me. I take in Powerful Pure Energy Tangerine Gels every 30 minutes and Endurolyte pills by Hammer Nutrition every 45 minutes on the run. I used this in one race at the Beach to Battleship Ironman Distance race and it worked flawlessly. I also used this mix in training and felt better. The Endurolyte pills seem to be the magic potion for me to keep on going. Without the proper fuel, you will end up stopping and walking long portions of your triathlon race. Once again, this particular tip is not based on your exerting more effort, but rather just taking in the right nutrition.
  • Sprint training – I have heard it said “If you want to run faster, you must run faster.” I take this to mean that if I want to achieve a faster pace in my triathlon race, than I need to train at a faster pace during my training. During the course of your training, you need to mix in some high speed, high intensity training sessions. Of course, you do not want to do this all the time, but once a week getting on a track somewhere will help your overall speed. You can mix in some workouts that really challenge your speed as well such as: 400m at 90% speed followed immediately by 800m at 80% speed followed by 400m at 85% speed and then finish with 800m at 90% speed. These intervals will challenge your top speed and your heart rate at this top speed. I found that after I had done some mix of these workouts, my top speed had improved and I could take on harder workouts in the run. I especially felt it when running up hills where my heart rate would soar, but I knew it would come back down because of doing these types of workouts. The biggest challenge for me with these workouts in finding a track I can workout on. I usually try to make it to the local middle school, but sometimes the track is occupied. Overall, this type of training will help you to get faster. Always spend 15 minutes or so warming up before you attempt these sprints because you do not want to injure yourself.
  • Zone 2 training – This type of training is the exact opposite of the previous item, sprint training. This type of running is very slow and keeps the heart rate in zone 2. You can search many places on Google to find a way to determine your heart rate. After you determine your heart rate, then you want to plan on once a week or more of running in this zone. You will want more of this in your offseason workout plan to train your heart. What you will find through this type of training is that your heart rate will remain lower when you are in the triathlon race per the effort you are putting out. Theoretically, this type of training will give you the long term endurance you need to keep pushing through the race while other people are walking. I have struggled to do this type of training, but am planning on doing more of it this off season to prepare for next season.
  • Proper Form – One of the factors that affects your run times more than anything is your form. Discovering the proper form for running is an arduous task, but one that will pay dividends. In essence, if you can improve your form than you can get faster without any additional effort. You need to concentrate on proper posture and not leaning at the waist. You need to focus on where your foot lands as opposed to just haphazardly putting your foot down. You need to focus on where you are looking and your head position. You do not want to look down or look up when running. Finally, you want to make sure you have the proper arm swing to ensure your arms are helping you and not hurting you in the run. If you desire more information on proper form look up some of the YouTube videos by Bobby McGee. You can get some impression of the proper form. Then you want to video record yourself running to see how close you are coming to the proper form. Lastly, start to do certain drills that Bobby McGee prescribes to help you with your form. Last season, I worked on proper foot placement in the run. I did this mostly on a treadmill in the dead of winter last year. This practice helped me gauge my run stride as well. I ran faster this year because of the time spent on my run form.