Are you physically and mentally tired from a big summer of races? Do you want a break from triathlon training and racing? Focusing on being strong in three sports at the same time is hard work. If you did all of the work this year to be race fit, then you should have a strong fitness base. Why not put that base to use and run a fast half- or full-marathon? If you already come from a running background it can be a nice change to make training simple again and to just focus on one sport peak. If your running needs some work, preparing for a running race gives you a chance to refine your biomechanics and efficiency, and boost your confidence. With your triathlon season fitness, a run-focus block will keep you motivated through the fall months.
The end of your race season is a good time to reflect and analyze your strengths and where you can improve. If running efficiency and endurance are areas for improvement, the fall is the perfect time to start working on it. Good triathlon training requires a dedication to science-based programming to improve, and then maintain fitness, in three sports at the same time. Stringing three sports together is mentally taxing and it can be difficult to improve all three in one season. One strategy coaches use to enhance continued physiological improvement and motivation is to focus on different sport-specific blocks during the off-season. This could look like a run focus for six to 12 weeks, a swim focus for six to eight weeks and a bike focus for six to 12 weeks. While you don’t drop the other two sports altogether during a focus, it allows you to put more energy into improving one thing at a time.
To pick a fall running race, and choose a distance, look at running a race in the eight to 12 weeks following your most recent “A” race. This will allow for a couple of weeks of recovery.
Next, look at what kind of base you already have and choose a reasonable distance from there. If you were competing over the Olympic distance, a half-marathon is probably the best choice as you have already been running 10 km off the bike which, coupled with the ride, is like spending 90 to 120 minutes on your legs. This is similar to the energy you’d expend running a half-marathon, so you have the base and the ability to complete the distance and can focus on run training specifically. If you were competing at the Ironman 70.3 distance, then your training will be a good base for either a half- or full-marathon. If you have recently completed an Ironman distance event you will need a few weeks of recovery, but if you stay active you will have a solid platform to build to a great race in the fall. From Ironman training, you may choose to refine your marathon run, working on pacing, nutrition and mental stamina. However, moving to a half-marathon is a great plan if you want to build stamina for a faster run split.
Running off the bike can be hard and doesn’t usually feel as easy and fluid as running without having done a ride before. Spending a couple of months to focus on your run can really help your next year of triathlon racing.
Here are both half- and full-marathon programs that you can use to boost your run this fall.
LifeSport Coach Brendan Mackenzie is a NCCP certified triathlon coach working towards his Comp Dev certification. He is the provincial coach for the youth and junior elites in Saskatchewan.