Half Ironman Run Training

by Tom

Hi I'm a 17 year old male, self training for my first half Ironman in November.

I've been swimming since I was four but my running is terrible. I train 5 times a week differing my run sessions, but I don't think my runs are improving that much.

My distance running has improved but I'm not fast over the distance. Ultimately in around 10 years I want to become competitive at Ironman but with my poor run, I'm worried about this.

Is there anything better I can incorporate into my training or anything I can do to help my run? Thanks

Intelligent Triathlon Training replies:

First of all, 10 years is plenty of time to improve your running! For the longer distances, running economy becomes more important than it is for the shorter races. The most economical athletes tend to be those who have accumulated the most miles in training, ie generally slightly older athletes.

So it is likely that your running economy will naturally improve over time, which will help your running performance.

running-drillsThere are things you can do to help improve your economy, which would also improve your run-specific strength. These things would be running drills, hill reps (up and down), and some basic strength training.

The key to improving your running performance and running economy is consistent training, gradually building up your mileage. Just make sure you don't try to up your mileage or volume of running too much too soon as you don’t want to get injured.

To improve your performance over half-Ironman and particularly Ironman, you need to increase the speed at which your first threshold ( lactate threshold 1 or LT1) occurs, and your endurance at this speed.

Without knowing more details about your current running training it is hard to give specific advice about how you can do this. Feel free to comment on this page with more details if you’d like more info.

Thing that would be useful to know would be times you have run for certain distances (10km, half-marathon – on own and/or as part of a triathlon, marathon if you have done one) and what sort of run sessions you are currently doing.

For some general advice about improving your run speed at LT1 have a look at our page on improving run speed.

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Mar 30, 2012
Intelligent Triathlon Training replies
by: Mark

Yes, do the two run sessions as you say - They add to aerobic development. Fundamental for your chosen distances.

Anaerobic capacity or power is largely irrelevant in long events, unless you are competing for Olympic marathon success.

There are coaches who will have you doing 400 reps, but they would need to be steady and only on very short rest. We prefer to go for several minutes, as this helps to develop the aerobic conditioning further. You could keep the speed the same but go to shorter but more reps as you get closer to comp. Ultimately this would reduce the training stress of the session.

Your brick session sounds OK. You could try going out just a little faster (13km/hr) before settling back down to the pace you have been doing these sessions at. If you are feeling good then up the pace for the last five minutes.

Fast running can be fun, and if your aim is to stay fit and have fun there is nothing wrong with it. If you want to get your training right, then you will need to bring the intensity down and try to make chronic physiological adaptations that occur with the slower, longer training sessions. The effects can take longer to notice but they are more permanent. Use the intensity to help yourself peak for bigger races.

Mar 27, 2012
by: Tom

Thanks once again, very useful. With the interval training I was doing I was just doing 400 reps trying to increase anaerobic endurance but I definitely like the idea of 1km reps better. All the sessions are by myself so im constantly pushing myself to go harder and faster.My brick session is a half hour off the bike at 5min per km pace , with my long run probably being a bit too slow compared to what you have written. I also didn't think the two km was anything special but I felt I should add more running to my program so I was running 5 times per week. On top of the interval running, long run and brick should I do two run sessions just at 70-80% of the long run and at a steady state? Does this help overall aerobic endurance? Thanks for your help.

Mar 27, 2012
Intelligent Triathlon Training Replies part 2
by: Mark

You don't say what the brick session is, or how long, so again difficult to evaluate. The main purpose of a brick is to condition yourself to what it feels like to run off the bike. I would be more inclined to perform your tempo run as your brick session, with a little modification.

Try running 12km/hr for 20 - 30 minutes off a reasonably hard bike session, not too intense but something that replicates race pace. Try setting out a little faster for 5-min (e.g. 13km/hr) before settling at 12km/hr. If you are OK with the mileage try then slowing to a steady pace of 9-10km/hr for another 20-30 minutes.

What is your purpose of the interval session? To run fast or to develop a certain pace or to have fun and run with others? A session that can help to develop LT1 is to break the speed down. To improve it, you need to run faster than LT1, but you need to have little rests (i.e. make it an interval!).

Try something along the lines of 1 km reps in 4mins 30s (13.3km/hr, over LT1 and race pace but not too much) with 2 mins of easy jogging as your recovery (<9km/hr). Start with a number of reps that challenges you and increase the number of reps up to 10-12. When you can do this, increase the speed slightly (keep the duration over 4 minutes though, and recovery to 2 minutes - 2:1 work: rest ratio).

Your other runs should be slow and steady (Extensive Endurance) like your long run, but not as long. 70-80% of the duration.

Try to do this for 2-3 weeks then give yourself an easy few days, no more than 20 minutes a day of very easy running for 5 days, then repeat.

Mar 27, 2012
Intelligent Triathlon Training Replies part 1
by: Mark

It seems like you are lacking purpose and direction in your training. You are hitting every energy system, despite really needing to focus upon one specific area of training. You are also quite young to be specialising in 1/2 and full marathons. This is a fairly 'Western world' thing to say as many of the African and Asian runners are specialising in the long distances from a young age.

So the message isn't don't do it, just be careful and build your programme slowly, particularly the volume. You still need another 2-3 years for your musculoskeletal structure to mature fully.

Your primary focus needs to be upon developing the speed at which your LT1 occurs, basic aerobic endurance and, longer term, your efficiency/economy.

The long run is good, how good just depends on how long and what speed it is.

Assuming you have already been building your volume up to the point where you could complete a Half but don't train over that distance or duration very often, and based upon your target half-Ironman run pace of 12km/hr, your long run should not be faster than 10km/h. Without knowing your history it is difficult to say how long this run should be, but it sounds like you might be up to running 75-90 minutes.

The fast 2km doesn't really serve any purpose. It will likely be considerably faster than the rest of your running and way above what you will be targeting in races. Lose it.

Mar 26, 2012
by: Tom

Thanks! That at the moment I do one long run, one interval run session, one tempo run , a brick session and a fast paced 2km run. At the moment I also don't have any run times but I'm looking to do around a 1:45-1:50 in the run leg o the half. Thanks for your help

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