I am not writing this post about the fact I am afraid of qualifying for Boston. I am writing this post because I want to talk about the lack of speed I displayed at 70.3 Austin. It has been haunting for the past few weeks that my time at the half-marathon was 1:53. This is not a horrible time by any means but when your goal is in the 1:40 range then there is a problem.
Add in the fact that after that race I ran 18 miles at a 7:51/mi pace, then two half-marathons (one in training and one in a race) at times of 1:39 and 1:38 and I think you can understand my dilemma with trying to cope with a 1:53 or 8:40/mi pace. Yes it was hot, yes it was hilly but in the end those are excuses and there were others that had to run that race and ran it faster than 1:53.
As I do with all things pertaining to race day and breaking down my race I emailed Coach to tell her of my disappointment in the run. As is always the case she talked to me in terms that I can understand. This was her response to my email:
Why some triathletes run better off the bike than others is not fully understood, but it appears to have something to do with differences in how individual athletes’ neuromuscular systems are wired. In a 2010 study by Australian researchers, about half of the triathlete subjects tested exhibited involuntary changes to their normal running mechanics after riding a bike. These changes reduced their running economy.
Were the triathletes who maintained their running economy off the bike more experienced or better trained? No. The difference was hardwired. This was shown in a previous study by the same researchers involving elite triathletes. All of the triathletes in that subject pool were experienced and extremely well-trained, yet almost half of them also exhibited the same economy-spoiling changes in running form after cycling.
The best triathlon runners typically run 5–6 percent slower over a given distance in a triathlon than they do in a running race of the same distance. It would be helpful if this figure could be held up as a universal standard. In that case you could test the disparity between, for example, your freestanding 10K time and your Olympic-distance triathlon 10K run split and know that, if the disparity was 7 percent or greater, you could adjust your training to close that gap. But, because of differences in hardwiring, there is no universal standard. Some triathletes can’t come within 5 percent of their standalone run times in triathlon even with perfect training.