Off Season - Time to improve your running
When Triathletes are in the thick of race season training there is not much extra time and energy to work on specific areas of weakness. It’s more about balanced training and getting across that finish line in the lowest time with strong performances over the three disciplines.
We all know the discipline where triathletes lose most time is on the run leg. But when do you have time to specifically work on this weakness I hear you ask…. The off season, that’s when!
Following a well-deserved break post season, it’s good to have a transition phase where you gradually build up your easy running over a few weeks to regain some condition prior to setting about a plan to run improvement.
Fluid athlete Vanessa on her way to winning her AG at World Duathlon Champs 2015
Stripping it back – The most important way to develop run fitness initially is by incrementally increasing longer easy running, but there are many other areas to address that compliment this endurance development.
Addressing areas of weakness including the activation of muscle groups that help support your primary movers will help build a strong runner body. Introducing a dynamic warm up pre session for example to activate and strengthen calves, glutes and hip flexors is an important routine to include in your weekly running program.
When it comes to workouts, many runners traditionally just emphasise easy long run miles in the off season, but it important in my view to develop all areas of the aerobic range to varying degrees during this phase.
The ratio of slow and fast training will definitely be more in the slow range, but the inclusion of medium and some higher intensity training into the plan will see speed maintenance, neural firing and hormonal balance maintained. Your body responds better to variables in training v’s the same stimuli over and over again.
For example, runners can engage fast twitch fibres as part of an active warm up with short stride and build intervals, working on correct form at pace whilst they are up on their toes.
Also including efforts like negative split or progressions that start of slowly but build in pace throughout a set are a great way to integrate more intensity early in the season without putting too much pressure on the runner.
If you are motivated to improve your running over the off season, then this is the time to work on specific areas of weakness. Incorporate your bike and swim training around the key run workouts, but take an overall approach knowing that if you are putting more energy into your run training then there needs to be some give and take in other areas.