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After completing more than 150 marathons, running coach Jeff Horowitz got sick of running himself ragged with 70–100-mile weeks during training. In order to avoid injury and burnout, he designed a less-is-more, quality over quantity philosophy in his book Smart Marathon Training. Adapt some of his principles into your triathlon training program.
1. Ditch the junk miles. Only add workouts that have a purpose. “Instead of assuming that squeezing in an extra run is always a good idea, you’re going to refrain from adding in that run unless you can articulate a specific benefit that would come from doing it,” Horowitz writes. The same applies to your swim, bike or strength workouts. For marathon training, he suggests a max of 35 miles per week using three purposeful workouts (speed or hills, tempo, long run), cross-training twice per week and strength training/drills two or three times per week.
2. Look out for signs of fatigue. Horowitz suggests establishing your average resting heart rate by checking it in the morning on three consecutive “normal” days. If it’s elevated one day (say 10 percent more than average) your body might be telling you it needs a rest day. Another sign of fatigue? If it takes you longer than 10 minutes to fall asleep.
3. Embrace the hills. “[Hill running] builds power and explosive strength. Running up is really a series of short, one-legged squats,” Horowitz writes. Plus, running uphill is easier on the knees, ankles, hips, etc. If that’s not enough, hills can also improve running form and economy—because you can’t overstride!
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4. Use your long run to perfect technique. Monitor your form in training and you’ll be able to do the same in your race, Horowitz writes. Count your cadence and aim for 180 steps per minute, listen to your foot strike to ensure it’s quiet, check if you’re slouching and if so, tighten your core muscles.
5. Build a runner’s body. “Think of your body as a powerful platform … with attached appendages to perform necessary work,” Horowitz writes. “These appendages—the arms and legs—move around but they are only able to work effectively if they’re grounded by a solid base.” That base is your core. Horowitz suggests doing functional strength exercises and core work at least twice a week.
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