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[ejc999] I wanted to ask questions about IM run training. What's your theories on IM run training?[Coach AJ] Well, it depends on your running background. For those that have run an open marathon before, they have a head start. I think they can get away with capping the long run at 2:45-3 hours. Those that don't have a running background should slowly build up the distance of their long run. It comes down to personal comfort level. I don't think you need to run 26.2 previous to IM day, but for some it's mental. The long run really takes it out of you, and the recovery afterwords is key.
[ejc999] I've done both an IM and open marathons but on my IM my bike pace was too hard and didn't really get a chance to run. I used one of the BT plans and felt pretty ready but never tested it. Do you recommend 3 days a week of running? If so, how do you break down the runs?
[Coach AJ] I also believe that you should do long runs w/ race pace intervals. Too many athletes run at slower pace than they hope to run on race day, then wonder why they didn't run as fast as they wanted to. Include 2 x 20' at 10-15 sec. under your goal IM marathon pace. You should also include some tempo runs to work on your efficiency and speed in general. Don't just go out and run long, you need to do some "speed" work as well. Speed is relative I know, but adding in 20' of tempo work is great.
[Coach AJ] I believe in frequency of running. Meaning that the more days you run, the better. You can get 6 hours of running in w/ 6-1 hour runs, 2-3 hour runs, etc. If you run more frequently you can get a lot of miles in with quality, and reduce your risk of injury. Personally, if you want to run well, I think 4 days is the minimum you need to run.
[Coach AJ] There are 3 key runs to IM. The long run, a tempo/speed run, and hills for strength. If you add in 2 to 3 other steady runs at an aerobic pace, you will be set up well for race day.
[ejc999] Interesting on the more but shorter. I've been using a balanced 3x3 training with a 4th either bike or run each week. With the strength run, do you recommend repeats or finding a hilly run?
[Coach AJ] You need to work your entire aerobic system. If you stay aerobic for all your runs, or hit them all hard, then you are only training one range. I love brick runs as well. For strength you can do either reps or a hilly run. With reps you want to build the duration, but also change it up. So you can do 6 x 2', or 5 x 3', or 2 x 20'. A lot of that depends on which IM you are doing and what the terrain is like.[ejc999] This year I'm registered for Beach 2 Battleship which is flat.
[Coach AJ] Then work on turnover rate w/ some speed sessions as strength won't be as much of an issue. Keep your cadence at 90+ so you don't take as much of a pounding.
[ejc999] From reading your thoughts, I need to be more structured in my run training. I'll do a long run or tempo run but won't have set goals beyond hitting an overall pace or distance.
[Coach AJ] Absolutely! You need to have a specific idea of what you want to accomplish, and how you will accomplish that as you head out the door. If you want to work on turnover, keep it flat and do some pickups like 5 x 1' at 10k pace. Or work on strength. Just don't head out the door and run every time. There is a time for that, maybe twice a week where you are really building your aerobic base and muscular strength, but that only works if your other runs have specific structure.
[ejc999] What's your favorite strength workout?
[Coach AJ] I like to do 6 to 8 x 3' up a steady slope, with the run down as recovery. You can't just mosey down though. Work on your turnover and let the legs really turnover. This builds strength, works on form and is a great way to stimulate your upper aerobic end. On the uphills you don't need to kill yourself. Hit mid to upper zone 3 HR and you will get plenty of benefit.
[nathane] I just did IMKS 70.3 last weekend and are planning to do another HIM August 10th. What kind of training plan should I adopt?
[Coach AJ] That depends on how KS went, what your goal is, and the terrain of the event. Basically, you need to be consistent more than anything else. No one workout makes you, no one workout breaks you.[nathane] I did Kansas in 5:26 (which was my first) but would like to maybe get into the 4:XX range in Boulder.....not sure if that's realistic or not.[Coach AJ] OK, so you are doing 5430. Do you live at that altitude? That is a huge consideration. Add in the fact that the course is harder than it looks, and it can be tough. You need to have a bit of strength and speed to do well on that course. At higher altitude your Lactate Threshold comes down, your aerobic capacity comes down and your perceived exertion goes up.
[nathane] Yeah I'm in Colorado for the summer, I've been here since May. I heard some people say that Kansas was tougher than Boulder....so I thought it might be possible.
[Coach AJ] OK, so build your LT slowly with some tempo work on the bike and run. With consistent training you can reach your goal. Make sure to have a plan everytime you get out the door. Whether that plan is an easy recovery spin, a drill swim, or a hard ride up Left Hand, have a plan!
[nathane] Do you think the beginner HIM plan on here would be ok to pick up 7 weeks out??
[Coach AJ] Yes, I think that would work for you.[kenneya] Any tips on bilateral breathing. I read the articles and I am really struggling with it[Coach AJ] Kenny, what exactly are you struggling with? Is it lack of oxygen or form?
[kenneya] Yes, I find that I am holding my breath under water and I can't quite get a rhythm. For example every 3rd stroke on my left side I breath but I feel as if I am breathing too much and I can't exhale everything without sucking water. I swam yesterday in a lake for the first time for distance and found it extremely hard staying straight only breathing on one side. I have to get the bilateral breathing down and also do you have any tips for swimming straight?[Coach AJ] Remember to relax when swimming. You don't need to hold your breath, that really tightens you up. You can let air out through your nose so you don't tighten up. You want to be fully exhaled as you turn your head to breath. That way you are inhaling oxygen from the start and not wasting time exhaling while having your head above water.
[kenneya] As I am turning should my nose exhale break the surface of the water at just the time to get a breath in through my mouth?
[Coach AJ] In a perfect world, yes. You would be ready to inhale the second your head is turned. That said, everyone is a bit different. Even the best IM swimmers or Olympic swimmers have differing techniques.
[Coach AJ] Swimming straight is hard to train in a pool. If you have access to open water, pick a point on the shore, a tree or some land mark that you can easily sight off of. Use that to practice swimming straight. Also, your form may be pulling you one way. In the pool you can close your eyes and really feel your stroke while working on swimming straight.[kenneya] One last question. I feel as if my hips are very low in the water and I have the sensation of dragging my legs. Should I be contracting my mid section as I pull the stroke and rotate through the water? Does my whole body rotate as one? Shoulders hips and legs or are my legs flat and my hips shoulders rotate?
[Coach AJ] Use a solid kick to keep your hips up. That is very neglected by triathletes. Use your lats and core to move your arm through the water. Ideally, the hips rotate first, that starts the chain of your lats, upper back and shoulders to move you. Your legs being flat or rotated is a function of flexibility. A flat kick is stronger typically, but not everyone can rotate their hips and shoulders while keeping the legs flat. The chain is your hips, then shoulder/lats/upper body.[Coach AJ] Swimming is so much about technique. Relax and let it come to you. You cannot force fast swimming. Maximum speed comes from max effort combined with max relaxation!
USAT Level 1 Coach
"My coaching philosophy can be summed up in two words: listening and balance. By combining these two elements I feel I can help each athlete achieve their full potential."