Thoughts on Running in Triathlon: How much?

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I am a loyal reader of this pro’s blog. He is an excellent writer and has a good message with each post. As a runner, this week’s post rang resounded particularly well with me. I agree with him that run training is often overlooked and neglected in triathlon training. Yes, too much running makes you prone to injury but it nevertheless needs to be included. You cannot forget it just because there is a risk of injury. With the proper precautions and the right training, you can minimize the risk and optimize your gains. Here are my tips:

1) 10% rule: Although I am not a huge fan of this overstated rule, if you are just getting into running or are coming back from injury the 10% rule does apply. Do not increase your weekly mileage by more than 10%. So if you run 10 miles the first week, got to 11 miles the next week and so on. For those of you who are high mileage runners already (40+) than disregard since you can most likely do more.

2) Optimize each mile: Since triathletes runs less total miles than say a marathoner or a pure runner, each workout needs to have a specific goal. In a week, try to include one track workout, one tempo run, one brick run, and one long run. After you have become a better runner you can begin to include more “fluff running” to boost weekly volume.

3) Use the elliptical: If you are injury prone or are coming back from an injury consider using the elliptical or aqua jogging as a substitute for a run. While it is not identical training, it will at least simulate a run better than other exercises without as much risk.

I’m back in Tucson and the first week of training went great. After lots of racing and the transition to a new environment, I wasn’t exactly sure how the body would respond, but my body seemed to be firing on all cylinders despite the tremendous heat and the dusty environment that seems to really trigger the allergies. The biggest mishap this week was bringing Powerbar Gel Blasts to the pool. They completely melted on a September day – this would never happen even on the hottest day in Wisconsin and is reminder of how different life can be across different geographical locations.

As for my training, I will say that the time has come where I need to get serious about my run. For those that have heard me preach, you know that I am not a huge advocate for most triathletes having a heavy focus on running. It just doesn’t make sense in my opinion, and I myself have followed my own advice as I have worked tirelessly on my swim and bike. However, I have reached a point where the lowest hanging fruit is probably going to come from the run. Yes there are still improvements that can be made with the swim and bike, but I’m going to focus more and more attention on the run and that started this week. Now, my Achilles is no where back to 100%, but it is much better than say in June-July and I feel comfortable bumping up my mileage as I gear up for running centric races including Ironman Florida and Ironman Arizona. Given that last 5 years have been focused on swimming and biking it will be interesting to see if I can make a similar transformation to my run. We shall see.