LISTEN TO THE EPISODE HERE:
Mikael and David Dhooge answer listener questions on the topic of run training for triathlon.
In this episode you'll learn about:
- Running every day vs. 5-6 days a week
- The long run - best practices
- Can you run too slow?
- Hill reps for VO2max development
- Pacing and workout design of high-intensity intervals
- Key differences between run training for triathletes vs. runners
- Running form and biomechanics
- Strength training for run performance and injury prevention
- Best practices of using "super shoes"
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Running every day vs. 5-6 days a week
- There is no evidence that running seven days a week is better than running five or six days.
- Running seven days a week puts much stress on the legs, and recovery days are essential to prevent injury.
- A streak of seven days of running is optional to achieve a sub-three-hour marathon.
- Running consistently and achieving good volume is essential for runners.
- It depends on the athlete, but in general, five to six days of running may be sufficient for a sub-three-hour marathon.
- Mikael agrees that training every day with a high volume is not recommended.
- He suggests running five days a week and cycling or swimming twice a week, even if the focus is on running.
- Observational studies of elite runners show that some tend to have a rest day.
- Many elite runners in East Africa tend to have one day completely off from running.
- Coaching-wise, Mikael recommends five or six running days, six at most, for someone training for a three-hour marathon.
Long runs as a percentage of training volume
- There is no specific evidence to prescribe a certain percentage of weekly training volume.
- Athletes should exercise caution when doing sessions longer than three hours due to the risk of injury.
- Long sessions should be limited to approximately 30 to 45 kilometres.
- Consistent frequency, as well as total weekly and monthly volume, are more critical factors for training.
- Monthly volume strongly predicts marathon time, but only if the long run is longer than 21km and the average run distance is longer than 10km.
- Long sessions should have reduced volume and more race-specific intensity as the competition approaches, typically around 2h15 to 2h30.
- The mix of sessions should also be considered when looking at weekly and monthly volume and consistent work.
- Long runs are crucial, but it is advisable not to exceed three hours to prevent excessive stress on the body.
- Diminishing returns exist in regard to the long run for athletes.
- There is no evidence on the topic of long runs, so personal experimentation is critical.
- Many athletes may focus too much on their long run.
- It is optional to have a long run every week.
- Length of the long run is subjective, with options such as a percentage of volume, as long as tolerated, or a maximum length.
- The minimal effective dose should be the focus in the long run.
- Consistency with the rest of your running is essential.
- Boston Marathon was on April 18th, and I had one athlete that ran a successful marathon with the longest run being of 2 hours and 24 minutes.
- The long run should generally be at most 2.30 hours unless training to complete rather than compete.
- Distance training becomes essential when training for a marathon.
- Finding what works best for you is vital.
- The minimal effective dose should be kept in mind in the long run.
- Therefore, focus on achieving goals with the minimum effort necessary.
Hill workouts and VO2max
- Hill reps positively affect VO2, economy, speed endurance, and motor unit recruitment.
- Engaging fibres and having good technique are essential in hill reps.
- Thirty seconds on with one-minute recoveries not only improves VO2 but also has a strength component.
- The technique is important in hill reps as it translates to flat running.
- One-minute recoveries allow for better recovery and technique compared to 30-30s.
- 30-30s or 30-15s are better for reaching more time at VO2.
- Hill reps may not solely aim for VO2max or maximum time at VO2max.
- Shorter recoveries are better for maximising time at VO2max.
- Jogging back down the hill doesn't maximise time at VO2max.
- Hill reps improve strength and motor unit recruitment economy.
- They may improve VO2max utilisation and speed even without maximising time at VO2max and could have benefits beyond VO2max adaptations.
- The grade of the hill affects the effectiveness of the session. A 10-12% grade hill may limit heart rate and ventilation.
- Hill reps can be done on a treadmill or a long hill to minimise recoveries.
- A mix of track and hill workouts is ideal.
- Hills stress tendons. So recovery is important.
- The goal is to stress the body and improve mitochondrial efficiency.
- Stay below the aerobic threshold (LTE) during training.
- Running too slow is not a problem and will still have an effect.
- Athletes with higher aerobic thresholds may need to run slower to avoid overstressing.
- The entire training program must be considered when deciding on training intensity.
- Low-volume athletes may benefit from more time in zone two.
- Easy runs should allow for recovery.
- Running faster may provide more benefits but stay below the aerobic threshold.
- The approach is individualised and depends on the athlete's training program.
VO2max intervals target pace
- Self-paced intervals are suitable for improving running speed.
- Playing around with session design is important to see how well one can hold their running pace.
- Lowering recoveries during intervals helps build fatigue resistance.
- One's 5km ability may be more challenging than expected, even if they still need to run it.
- For sprint triathlon training, focus on the specific sprint distance pace rather than the personal best on a 5km.
- Four times one kilometre is too short for a VO2 session; aim for at least 20 minutes of work time.
- VO2 max intervals do not have to be at a 5km pace.
- Aim to go close to as hard as possible for a session, but leave one rep in the tank.
- No need to intentionally slow down to be closer to the goal pace.
Differences between run training for runners and run training for triathletes
- Standard run training involves just running and allows for more volume and recovery.
- Triathletes need to consider all the sports they are doing, so they typically run less and cycle more.
- Doing less volume and more frequency of running is recommended for runners.
- The intensity of training will differ depending on the distance being trained.
Intervals or workouts triathletes should avoid
- Triathletes typically require less high-intensity running than 1000m, 3000m, or 5km runners.
- As a runner, you may want to incorporate more high-intensity running into your routine.
- Triathletes should be cautious with high-intensity running.
- For regular runners, the higher intensity may be suitable.
Run workouts or interval structures for triathletes
- Triathletes may not do a brick run but have sessions similar to other triathletes.
- Ironman pace runs are common for triathletes, while runners don't do them as much.
- Runners tend to have a more polarised training approach, while triathletes may incorporate high endurance zone two sessions.
- High zone two workouts may be added to runners' winter training, while triathletes may add them when preparing for races like Ironman or Half Ironman.
- The race pace for running is higher than for triathlon because runners do it fresh.
- Periodisation may differ between coaching for running and triathlon.
- Triathletes always run tired and at threshold or sub-threshold levels.
- The emphasis on going above the threshold in workouts is less for triathletes than runners.
Injury and long runs
- Running twice daily could be a good warm-up before going longer, especially for injury-prone athletes.
- Professional runners use this method to increase volume, but it's unnecessary for everyone.
- Observational evidence shows that top runners run twice a day, but there is no conclusive evidence.
- Long runs can be overemphasised and overestimated, and short-course triathletes are an excellent demographic to look at for training.
- Long runs are only necessary when training for a specific race, and even then, they should be done sensibly and individually.
- The run-walk strategy is underutilised, especially among injury-prone runners, and could be used during long runs.
- More frequency instead of more volume in individual runs is generally better for runners.
- Building up the long run should only be done when getting specific for racing.
Running shoes: racing and training
- David uses carbon shoes but finds them expensive and uses them sparingly due to low mileage. He believes that carbon shoes are beneficial and necessary for running competitions.
- Research suggests that carbon shoes have benefits even at low speeds.
- Carbon shoes can provide a psychological benefit and improve running times.
- However, carbon shoes can be unstable and potentially lead to injuries, such as navicular bone stress fractures.
- To maximise performance, I suggest using carbon shoes in races and doing some training in them.
- Carbon shoes are beneficial for speed intervals and recovery from big-mile sessions.
- Many professional triathletes use carbon shoes in their key sessions to aid in recovery.
- I have tried using carbon shoes for all of their fast workouts and found them to be a confidence boost in their training.
Non-carbon shoes for training
- When choosing a carbon shoe, it is essential to consider its stability.
- Carbon shoes can be less stable than traditional running shoes, so you must find a stable neutral shoe if that is what you are used to.
- Finding a stable carbon shoe can be difficult, but trying to mimic the same type of shoe as your running shoes is important.
- The Nike Alphafly and Adidas Prime X can be wobbly and are not ideal for running on cobblestones or uneven ground.
- The Essex MetaSpeed shoes are a good option for twisty courses and uneven ground because they feel more like a traditional racing flat and are very stable.
- I choose their shoes based on the terrain they will be running on, mainly whether they are cobblestones.
- They are stable on uneven ground and feel more like a traditional racing flat.
Stabilisation demands of super shoes in a long race
- The wobbling of shoes may cause cramping, but it's uncertain.
- Strength training can help mitigate the effects of wobbling shoes by working on foot, ankle, and lower leg strength and mobility.
- Plyometrics using a bosun ball can also help strengthen the ankles.
- It may be helpful to search for a stable shoe.
- Foot, ankle, and lower leg stability and strength work are recommended.
- Training in wobbling shoes can also be beneficial.
Strength training: two must-do strength and conditioning exercises
- It isn't easy to pick just two excellent exercises for hip and core stability, but I suggest working on hip stability and lower legs.
- For hip stability, bridges are an excellent exercise for avoiding overusing certain muscle groups and becoming quad-dependent when running.
- Bridges can be done with weights or on a Swiss ball.
- Plyometrics are great for strengthening the lower legs, ankles and feet.
- Jump squats are an example of plyometric exercises that focus on the bigger muscle groups.
- Each person should pick exercises based on their weaknesses, but a hamstring exercise like Nordic hamstring curls or deadlifts can be helpful for injury prevention.
- For performance, single-leg exercises like step-ups or split squats are practical.
- Step-ups are gentler on the body than split squats and can help with proper pushes off the box.
- Lunges are also practical exercises for single-leg, quad-dominant work.
- Overdoing running is not advisable, and gradually building up frequency and volume is essential to avoid tendon issues.
- Awareness of technique while running is crucial, and strength exercises help in general, but a good technique is still necessary to avoid tendon injuries.
- Eccentric work like simple step downs, strengthening exercises in general, barefoot walking, and running on even ground or trails are effective in strengthening tendons.
- Tendons adapt slowly; progressing is important to avoid issues because tendons don't adapt as quickly as muscles or the cardiovascular system.
- Applying gradual progression is the key to avoiding tendon injuries rather than actively strengthening tendons.
- Hill work is practical, but puts a lot of stress on tendons, so one should be cautious.
- Running on trails is an effective way to strengthen the lower leg, but one should avoid spraining their ankle.
- Different body systems adapt at different rates, which is important to remember while running.
- Tendons will adapt slowly, so it's necessary to progress slowly and avoid doing anything stupid to avoid injury.
Running form analysis
- Moderately experienced runners with a decent base level of fitness and no obvious glaring mistakes in their running form should not consider changing their running habits.
- It may not make sense for many runners to overthink changing or analysing their running form as their bodies have adapted to their current style.
- Instead of focusing on changing running form, I recommend doing strength training and mobility exercises to give the body the tools it needs to find its optimal running style.
- The body will adapt to converge towards something that works for the individual, so it's best to give the body the tools and let it find its way.
- Running gait analysis services are only helpful for some runners as their bodies have already adapted to their running form.
- To avoid injury and improve running economy, I suggest increasing the running frequency and doing something repetitive to allow the body to adapt.
- We must be careful when changing how we run, as the body can react differently, and you may get injured, especially if you've been running in a certain way for a long time.
- If you want to change your running form, it's best to do so slowly and work with slight differences.
- I agree that the body is adapted to a particular run form and suggests being careful when making changes to avoid injury.
Optimal biomechanics for running
- One of the common mistakes to avoid is overstriding, which can be achieved by avoiding too low a stride rate and breaking.
- When landing on the foot, it should be in the central part of the body mass and not too far in front.
- Avoiding excessive rotation and focusing on hip stability is also essential to maintain forward velocity.
- Optimal knee bends should be achieved by having a smaller angle, but not too small, that would be hard on the quadriceps.
- It's essential to maintain an upright position and have some stiffness in the lower leg while running.
- The concept of optimal biomechanics in the running is inconclusive and may differ for different individuals and speeds.
- Following Max Paquette, a biomechanist and researcher, on Twitter and listening to his podcast episode can provide valuable insights on the topic.
- Giving the body a certain base level of strength and mobility and running more frequently can help it adapt over time.
- While there may not be a clear answer on what is optimal, avoiding common mistakes can help improve running form.
Natural run form
- Running with a swinging arm at a fast pace is okay and natural.
- Over-rotating in the upper body due to the swinging arm might be an issue, but it's not a big deal.
- Running faster is better than trying to be more efficient if it means sacrificing speed.
- An efficient form may make you slower, which is not ideal.
- Haile Gebrselassie also had one arm swinging out more than the other.
- Changing the natural running style is unnecessary if it works well for you.
- Speed is the ultimate factor in running.
Modifying an athlete's run technique
- I prefer to keep an athlete's running technique the same as it is individual and has developed over a long time.
- Strides, hill strides, and hill sprints can be used to work on specific aspects of technique but only partially change it.
- I prefer to focus on giving the body tools through strength training and mobility and then letting the body take care of the rest.
- Cadence is individual, and increasing it can be helpful instead of overstriding.
- Landing under central mass is also an excellent primary point for technique.
- Focusing on breathing patterns can help athletes be more relaxed and more efficient.
- I think focusing on hip and glute stability for power is essential during hill strides and bridge exercises.
- Athletes' use of quads versus glutes and hamstrings may differ on the bike in triathlon and can impact the best way to run in the race.
- Brick runs help focus on fatigue levels in different muscle groups and adjust running techniques to avoid injury and overusing certain muscle groups.
Scientific Triathlon pre-run mobility routine
- I don't have any updates or a link to a pre-run mobility routine.
- The routine consisted of a few dynamic movements to awaken different muscle groups for running.
- I suggest continuing the routine if it has been effective in the past.
LINKS AND RESOURCES:
- Dustin Joubert, PhD & Dr. Amol Saxena, DPM | EP#383
- The Super Shoe study with Dustin Joubert, PhD | EP#322
- Run training load, biomechanics, and injury risk with Max Paquette, PhD | EP#321
- Running form and training talk with Bobby McGee (USA Triathlon) | EP#225
- Max Paquette on Twitter (for credible running biomechanics information)
- Increased oxygen uptake in well-trained runners during uphill high intensity running intervals: A randomized crossover testing - Held et al. 2023
- Q&A on run training (part 1) | EP#385
- Q&A on bike training | EP#381
- Q&A on swim training | EP#377
- Q&A on season planning, goal setting, and personal limiters | EP#372
- Q&A episode archive
- David Dhooge