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Triathlete’s Beginner’s Guide: Becoming A Better Runner

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Written by: Matt Fitzgerald

In the final article of Triathlete’s beginner series, senior editor Matt Fitzgerald talks about how to improve your running during a single-sport focus period.

The secret to boosting your running performance is building a solid foundation of running fitness. The foundation of running fitness is itself twofold:part speed and part endurance. If your running performance is weak, work on developing each of these two components independently. You need to run really fast in some of your workouts to stimulate neuromuscular adaptations that will enable you to later extend your speed over distance. You also need to run really far in some of your workouts to stimulate metabolic and cardiovascular adaptations that will help you sustain faster pace levels down the road as well.

“Fast” and “far” are relative terms, of course. By “fast” I mean significantly faster than your triathlon running race pace. Save the tempo runs and other moderately fast stuff until after you have built your foundation. In the meantime, hit the track and blast out 200- to 800-meter intervals. By “far” I mean farther than you really need to run to develop the necessary endurance to finish your races. For example, if you’re training for an Olympic-distance race, there’s no strict need to do long runs that are longer than seven or eight miles. But if you’re trying to address a weak run by building a proper running foundation, then build your long run distance up to 10 or 12 miles in training for an Olympic-distance event.

In Conclusion… Be Like Michellie

Every triathlete has a weak discipline, but the best triathletes tend to be very balanced, like Michellie Jones. Becoming more balanced requires a commitment to work on strengthening your weakest discipline. While you might dread the idea now, if you make the commitment anyway, you will surely warm up to it. There is no thrill quite like the thrill of improving.

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