Running Tips For Ironman- Jasper Blake

Ironman is one of the toughest single day endurance challenges on the planet.  Finishing with a marathon can seem like a daunting task and often is the one thing that people seem to dread the most especially when doing their first Ironman.  We asked one of Ironman’s fastest runners how he gets from start to finish quickly, efficiently and while maintaining focus.  Here is what he told us:

Bike stronger- Run stronger

The preparation for an Ironman run really starts on the bike.  Probably the best thing you can do is gain fitness on the bike so that a 180km bike ride doesn’t kill you.  If you have the luxury, some really big weeks on the bike will set you up well.  Cycling allows you to build an incredible aerobic base.  Good mileage on the bike including some over- distance rides will make 180km smaller and leave you with more energy for the run.
How much can you bench?

Some strength training in the weight room can help your cause.  I always used to think that the last 10km in an Ironman felt kind of like doing endurance squats.  Every step gets a bit heavier and the soreness can creep in.  If you are really getting fatigued, cramping can loom with every step.  Some general leg strength can help you avoid cramping.  Along the same lines, it is very important to work on balance and stabilizing strength throughout the year.  At the end of a 26 mile run, it’s the little things that become crucial and are often the difference between finishing strong and finishing with glow sticks.

Rubber Legs

Perhaps the biggest thing you can do is learn to run with fatigue in your legs.  I do a great deal of running the day after my long hard rides on my rubber chicken legs.  I do these runs at my desired pace and will build up to around 2.5 hours.  Running with fatigue will force you to focus on things like posture, cadence and nutrition to maintain good form.

Fuel Tools

Ironman requires planning ahead.  Good nutrition on the bike is not so much important for the bike itself as it is for the run.  Further to this idea, good nutrition early in the run is so you can be strong at the end of the run.
Practicing your nutrition during run workouts is an essential part of the puzzle.  My suggestion would be to pick one run a week where you bring food and fluid with you and use it every mile just as you would in a race.  Your body needs to be familiar with what it is going to eat and drink and more importantly, it needs to be able to digest and absorb the calories without trouble.
Fight or flight will serve you no purpose

Ironman is an exciting event.  Excitement can send your adrenaline into a series of unnecessary outbursts.  These usually take place in the busiest parts of town when everyone is cheering and the crowd is the largest.  The usual result is one or two miles a little bit quicker than you probably should.  Every time you venture into a pace that is too fast, you have to spend time and energy recovering from it.  Make sure you pace yourself during the run, especially in the first few miles.  There is nothing worse than looking great for your friends and family only to round the corner, out of site and hit the brick wall that follows an adrenaline spike.  As hard as it might be, control your emotions, they cost you energy when you need to conserve it.

BE

Probably the worst thing you can do is think too far ahead or too far behind.  Ironman is a big task but it can often be bigger in your own head.  Stay present mentally.  It’s easy to run one mile, we can all do it, but thinking about 26 miles when you are already 6-8 hours into a race can be overwhelming.  By staying present we can observe and react to our current feelings and circumstances.  Staying present allows us to make better decisions about our current condition and act on that.  It also allows us to be confident in the plan we have practiced over and over again in training.
So off you go and do your crazy 26 miles after an equally ridiculous swim and bike.  There will be good miles and hard miles and the best mile of all will of course be the last one.


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