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Get strong in the water! Alexander incorporates a lot of paddle work into his swimming because, as he says, strength is really important in the open water. “You have people all over you, you’re making right- and left-hand turns, you have to start and stop, your momentum is constantly being broken,” he says. “I think being strong can have a big impact.”
“Strength is the basis for building speed, especially in the longer-distance races. The second half of the bike ride in longer races is not about going quick; it’s about not slowing down. It’s not just about muscular strength, but about aerobic strength. You have to hold your pace at threshold—or close to it—for a long period of time.”
To tackle this in training, do some low-cadence work that will improve your ability to turn gears, Alexander says. “For Ironman racing, you need to do two types of interval work. Longer, sustained efforts—10-, 15-, 30-minute efforts—and VO2max efforts. You need the ability to go very fast for a short period of time, recover, and then do it again because that kind of work helps to build your threshold speed as well.”
“Technique is the most important in the run because it comes last,” Alexander says. “That’s where you’re going to be the most susceptible to fatigue. Again, it’s not about going fast; it’s about not slowing down. A great way to hold your pace is to have efficiency. If you look at the great Ironman runners, they look like little robots. Every runner has different nuances to their technique, but generally speaking they’re strong throughout the race.”