RUNNING FOR TRIATHLON
BY NICK CROFT from MULTISPORT CONSULTANTS
Running, more so than swimming and biking is the one that most people find cause them the most injuries. Therefore it’s crucial to build up gradually when starting out or coming back from injury.
Remember the 10% rule (increase run volume no more than 10% per week). Running is also the most natural of the 3 triathlon sports. Styles differ, and for the most part there are parts of your style that you may not change easily, no matter how hard you try.
As far as triathlon run training goes the run training should concentrate more on gaining aerobic strength. This is gained through running your longer runs over hilly terrain. Let the terrain work you. Rather than you busting yourself, week in week out at the track, running intervals that are being run at speeds that you will usually never do during a race.
Not all of us can win running races but we can learn how to run as smooth as some of the top runners that do. Learning proper running form will eliminate wasted energy, achieve an optimal running posture and coordinate your arms and legs in one fluid motion.
RUNNING BODY POSITION
Aim to get each part of your body moving as described below, to strive for optimum running form.
Your head should be upright, not buried in your chest or cocked back as if your looking at the sky. An upright head ensures that air has a clear passage in and out of the lungs.
Should hang loose and low, not be hunched up around your ears. As a small pre run loosener do 20 ‘windmills’ with both arms together – forward and back.
Your forearms should be at 90-degree angles to your upper arms and should stay roughly parallel to the ground as you run. Keep your arms close to your body, so your hands and forearms almost clip the top of your shorts as they swing. Pump your arms from front to back, with your hands coming only slightly across your stomach.
Concentrate on running tall with your torso perpendicular to the running surface. Some runners lean to far forward. Leaning too far forward keeps your legs from extending properly. Being hunched over will also put extra pressure on your lungs and diaphragm. Leaning too far back will restrict forward momentum. You can aim for a slight forward learn but working to have your shoulders hips and ankles all aligned as your feet strike the ground.
Touch your hips directly under your torso. Generally is your back is upright and your running tall then your hips will follow.
Your thumbs are the keys to keeping your hands loose. Rest your thumbs lightly on your index fingers with your palms facing each other. Two tried and true tips are – imagine you are holding a smiths crisp in your hands without breaking them or pretend you have a handful of sand and let it run through your fingers.
With each step, you should land lightly on your mid to fore-foot. Heel – toe foot strike will slow you down and your foot will be on the ground for too long. Lift your foot of the ground rather than push off with your toes. You should be trying to get your heel to lift up under your hips during the recovery phase.
Aim for a short light stride rather than a big one. Over striding will actually slow you down. Each foot strike of the ground should land directly under your body – not out front of you.
Look for a fast turn over where you aim to hit the group (both feet) at 170+ hits per minute. 180-190 is better. Aim to do this cadence even in easy runs.
IMPROVE YOUR RUNNING
Running drills have been used by generations by great coaches from around the world.
Age group triathletes, unless they have been training with a organised running or tri group may have never come across running form drills. These drills specifically develop the lower leg muscles – the quads, hip flexors and improve running reflexes. As your legs get stronger, they support more body weight and allow the ankle to maximize the power of the leg muscles.
Like swimming drills running drills can isolate a certain area which needs attention. It may help to have a helper / coach to look at your form during these drills. And don’t be discouraged if you don’t pick up some of these drills straight away.
Make sure you have warmed up for at least 15 min prior to doing the drills. The best time to do these is at the start of a planned run or just prior to your easy warm down.
Ease into them at the start. Only do 2-3 of each. Building up to 50-100m once a week.
These shouldn’t be done very strenuously, if you are having a problem doing them than you may be doing them wrong or you may not be up to ready for them just yet.