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The biggest X factor going into 70.3 races for athletes ranging from seasoned pros to beginner athletes is often the run. While predicting swim and bike fitness and pace for 70.3 races is relatively easy, the run seems to be the leg of the race that provides the greatest challenge for most athletes, especially when it comes to finishing strong and hitting target times—or nailing a new PR.
By establishing a solid run foundation, combining that with good strength work, then adding some race-specific tempo and high-quality training, an athlete can go into a race more prepared and confident to execute the run they know they are capable of. The following three run workouts address these specific needs for a successful and competitive 70.3 run.
70.3 Run Workout: Threshold Hills
Total time: 1:00 to 1:30; 6 to 10 miles
When: Between pure base building and really getting into some race specific pace work, I like the athlete to do a “speed strength” phase of run training. Speed strength usually entails some type of hill work (short and long) and is great at transitioning athletes from the more aerobic, distance-oriented training to higher intensity work. Typically, this would be 8 to 12 weeks out from an “A” priority race.
Why: Strength running is very important for all distances of triathlon, and especially for longer distance races like 70.3 and iron distance. Even more than speed, an athlete must have legs that are used to performing after big loads (i.e., the bike) and maintaining good form over an extended period. Hill work on the run develops strength, promotes good form and leg activation, and increases cardiovascular fitness.
15-20min easy run
6-8 x 800-meter hills at 4-6% grade, focus on driving the legs and arms up the hill; build to near threshold heart rate (Zone 4 to low Zone 5) on each one
200-400 meter jog easy down to get HR to Zone 2 or lower
70.3 Run Workout: Long Run with Tempo Work
Total time: 1:30 to 2:15; 13 to 17 miles
When: As an athlete gets closer to a high-priority race, it’s important to maintain both race-specific volume and race-specific intensity. Long runs with race pace work are essential in the 2 to 10 weeks from the race period and can be implemented in several ways.
Why: To be a successful 70.3 runner, you must have race-specific speed and volume under your belt. Long runs with significant race-pace work are a great way to train this and provide big strength and cardiovascular gain. I’m a big believer in race specificity, and to have you ready to run race speeds for race distances, you must run race speeds for race distances. This gives an athlete confidence in their ability and insight into good race pacing.
20min. building to Zone 2 HR
3-5x (2 miles “on”, 1 miles “off”) with the “ons” at 70.3 race pace (sub-threshold, Zone 4 heart rate) and the “offs” at 1:30 slower per mile than race pace and HR Zone 2.
RELATED: How Long Should My Long Run Be?
70.3 Run Workout: Fartlek Fun (or maybe not?)
Total time: :45 to 1:10; 6 to 9 miles
When: Runs at race intensity and faster are essential for athletes wanting to excel to their highest potential in 70.3 races in the weeks leading up to a key race. Getting high turnover into the legs as well as some added VO2-type fitness during the final lead up period is a great way to get sharp and primed for race day.
Why: Fartlek runs and VO2 work (like this specific Fartlek workout) are big bang for the buck. When needing to see an acute increase in fitness, use Fartlek work. These workouts are most effective in improving run cardiovascular fitness (i.e., delivery of oxygen to the muscles) and can improve run pace and economy at both high and lower speeds. Technically, VO2 work is defined by efforts in the 2-to-5-minute range, but when paired with some “off” time, these 7-minute repeats below still tap into the VO2 ranges and provide very high-quality running. Even though they don’t provide race-specific pace-type work, they do result in an increase in overall fitness. They aren’t easy, but nothing that provides big gains is!
20min with drills and strides
4min on a track or flat terrain at 90% max effort, Zone 5 HR
4min standing/walking recovery
3 x (7 x 200) (100 “on”, 100 “off”) with the 200s at the same pace as the average pace of the 4-minute TT; 100s “off” should be at 1:15 to 1:30 per mile slower pace than ons.
5 minutes standing/walking rest between sets