I’ve been a run­ner for years, rac­ing triathlons, but I seem to be stuck in a run speed rut and not get­ting any faster. I do 3 x 5km and 1 x 15km each week. Any ad­vice? Anna Cos­grove

220 Triathlon Magazine - - Contents -

Six-time Iron­man champ Dave Scott on how to break out of a run speed rut, plus our panel of ex­perts an­swer your tri Qs

O ne com­ment ac­tu­ally an­swers your is­sue, Anna: in­sert higher-in­ten­sity in­ter­vals into your three 5km ses­sions per week and you will get faster!

But here’s a more de­tailed re­ply as to how to add a lit­tle spice to your weekly runs. I’ve pre­scribed two ways to make your 5ks more in­ter­est­ing and pro­vided a pace-change sug­ges­tion for your long run.


First off, ses­sion one. 5km. Do your usual warm-up for 8-12mins and then add in what I like to call ‘anaer­o­bic en­durance re­peats’. Th­ese are typ­i­cally 25secs to 2mins, and should be very, very, hard, very fast! But they can vary in length. My sug­ges­tion is 2-3 sets, one at the be­gin­ning and one at the end, with some easy aer­o­bic jog­ging in be­tween. The re­turn on this is that it re­ally en­hances that en­ergy power house, the mi­to­chon­dria, which pro­lif­er­ate around the mus­cle cells and im­prove the qual­ity and func­tion­al­ity of your per­for­mance. You’ve got to have bet­ter mi­to­chon­dria to be fast, ba­si­cally! What kills mi­to­chon­dria over time is long, slow dis­tance as they be­come dys­func­tional, and we don’t want that. When we do th­ese short anaer­o­bic ef­forts, the mag­i­cal re­turn on this high-in­ten­sity ef­fort is huge!


The se­cond 5km sug­ges­tion is to add a lactate thresh­old segment. De­pend­ing on your abil­ity, this will be any­thing be­tween 20 and 60mins of hard ef­fort that you can hold for that length of time. To find this, quite of­ten I’ll ask ath­letes what their 10km race time is. So say it’s 45 mins, they’ve prob­a­bly worked hard for that as they’re fired up by race day and they want

to beat their team mates. You’re work­ing hard for the first 1km and then you’ll try and sus­tain it for the next 9km. Chances are, that’s your lactate thresh­old pace.

Within a 5km ses­sion, look to spend be­tween 14 and 25mins on the lactate thresh­old segment. For Anna, I sug­gest breaking this down and do­ing any­thing be­tween 90secs to 3mins and mix­ing them up. So it could be an as­cend­ing rest set – e.g. Do 6 x 3mins with 1min rest in be­tween each rep, then you might need a 2min break af­ter each rep to still be able to hit your lactate thresh­old in those 3mins. But make sure you al­ways give your­self enough rest to still be able to hit that pace.


The mis­take many peo­ple make is to al­ways run at the same speed, at a steady pace, and try­ing to add dis­tance to each run. But I like to use three dif­fer­ence paces, to cre­ate a type of fartlek run. I call this ‘swing pace’ to help de­ter­mine over­all race pace.

So first of all, we’re go­ing to in­clude a very short sec­tion on this, like a lit­tle spike. Maybe 30-45secs at lactate thresh­old pace.

The next pace is slightly be­low that, ap­prox. 5-6% slower than LT. Do your math and fig­ure it out!

The last pace is race pace. Now in­ter­weave the three paces into your long run and mix them around.

This type of train­ing, ‘swing­ing pace’, re­ally helps you de­ter­mine pace. You should al­ready know what your heart rate and your sweat rate feels like at a cer­tain pace. So in a race, you’ll know you’re hit­ting the right pace be­cause again you’ll know how it feels.

It also re­ally helps you mon­i­tor your food/fluid in­take – and most im­por­tantly, when you’ll need to take in ex­tra flu­ids – and how to in­crease run pace when you need to, plus how to decrease it with­out los­ing too much speed.

And let’s not for­get the bike, so make one of your weekly 5ks a brick ses­sion us­ing this run ses­sion:

10mins fast run­ning, in­creas­ing 1min each week at week 3. Main­tain this pro­gres­sion for 10 weeks. Week 10 = 18mins of anaer­o­bic en­durance re­peats. The ex­tra 1min could be a 1min ef­fort or bro­ken into smaller seg­ments. Th­ese can also be mixed up so the shorter re­peats aren’t al­ways on the end of the block.

10min warm-up; 50secs, 40secs, 5 x 30secs, 2 x 20secs with 4-8mins of easy jog­ging be­tween each set. Af­ter each re­peat jog very slowly for 40secs.

So there you go, Anna. A 5km run with anaer­o­bic en­durance re­peats, a 5km run with lactate thresh­old seg­ments and a swing pace long run. Good luck, I hope this all helps you get faster. Need some ad­vice from Dave Scott? Email ask­the­

DAVE SCOTT is a six-time world Iron­man cham­pion and has coached some of the big­gest names in the sport, in­clud­ing Chrissie Welling­ton. He’ll make sure you hit all your goals.

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