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Running problems

by Mike
(London)

I am a new triathlete and am struggling with running. I am heading for my first three triathlons in May, June and July.

I have a background in competition in swimming and cycling.

These two are progressing very well (swimming is is more or less explosive progress, but I have been a swimmer for 15 years also), even if cycling at the moment seem to be struggling with gaining speed, but it might be because of me using a mountain bike at the moment to train on.

However, the area that is easy for most people seem to be the most difficult to me; running.

I started off in January with new specially fitted running shoes, Asics Gel, tested and tried by a specialist to make it the best choice for running.

I have been running once or twice a week since January. I do not seem to gain speed at all. I am landing on 6.15/km, which is slow.

When I increase the running distance to above 3km I get problems with my shins or some kind of cramp in my shins.

I have never had this much before (or I a cannot remember it at least).

I know I am not a good runner, but I need to progress if I should be able to make my first triathlon in May.

1) How should I go about my shins and the obstacles above 3km?

2) I need to gain speed, how do I do it? I know there are different running styles in addition also. Should I change?

3) Would it make a big difference in changing from a mountain bike to a road bike?

Thanks!
Regards,
Mike

Intelligent Triathlon Training replies:

1) How should I go about my shins and the obstacles above 3km?

This is a typical response from a person with swimming and cycling in their background, as both are load bearing sports that don’t build a level of strength in the control muscles of the lower limbs and density in the bones.

You need to be patient, but there are also a few exercises that may help, to strength the calves and ankles and so reduce or eliminate the pain. Have a look at our lower limb conditioning page for ideas.

I would also suggest bringing the duration of your runs down a little (to 10 – 15 minutes) but repeat them more frequently, say 3 – 4 times per week, before you build the distance/duration up again.
Triathlon-run-training
2) I need to gain speed, how do I do it? I know there are different running styles in addition also. Should I change?

Probably not necessary to change your style would be first answer, however it’s difficult to say for sure without seeing you. Changes in technique rarely transfer to actual speed. However changes to form are different. Form is more about how you carry yourself and control things like your core and use your key limbs. Technique is a much more gross change and would look in much more detail about how you place your foot and will require much more intervention to make it effective.

The key things with technique are to stay relaxed, keeping shoulders and arms loose but controlled and in time with the legs. You are right there are many ‘techniques’. Hopefully the person who fitted your shoes factored in whether you are a mid foot striker or a heel striker, pronator or supinator. None are wrong as such as there are fine examples of people with poor ‘technique’ who win races and set records.

With regards building up your running speed, start to build this up steadily.

Start by including ‘strides’, initially 4 – 6 efforts of 60 – 80m where you pick the pace up (not sprinting, just faster running) before settling back down. This can be done as part of a longer run.

Once the distance you are able to do creeps up over 25 minutes, include a session where, after a reasonable warm up, say 10 minutes, including some strides, do 10 x 100m where you pick the pace up to a fast run, with a minute slow jog in between.

Build more reps as you become more comfortable with speed.

Over time you will look to extend the duration of the fast reps, up to 200, 300, 400m, but this will take some time.

3) Would it make a big difference in changing from a mountain bike to a road bike?

Yes, a huge difference, it will become much easier to go much faster!

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