Train Slow, Race Slow; Train Fast, Race Fast

[caption id="attachment_4492" align="alignright" width="240" caption="Courtesy of"]train_hard_race_fast_triathlon[/caption] It was very early on in my triathlon 'career' that Jon of SwiCycloRun taught me a valuable lesson about triathlon.  In an email exchange he said that there is no magic bullet to speed.  That if you want to run fast that you have to train fast.  You cannot train at 9:00/mi pace and expect to run 7:30/mi pace in the race.  You can't get on your bike and lollygag through a 2 hour ride where you cover 32 miles for a 16mph speed and expect to race at 20mph.  Your body is not capable of doing that because you haven't trained for that. From that day I always treated every training session as if it were race day.  Along the way though I learned that there are days where aero means running at a 9:00/mi pace because you just cannot always run fast and recover properly.  Here in Texas in the middle of the summer where temps are regularly 105* I cannot expect to run 7:00/mi pace but have to be happy with a 8:30-9:00/mi pace and know that come fall/winter I will be down to the 7:00/mi pace because of the work I put it. And that is the key to it all.  It is work.  You have to put in the time and effort to get fast.  Chrissie Wellington, of Kona Ironman fame, was asked about how she is capable of running so fast off the bike and here is her response:

And how do I run so fast off the bike? Well that’s easy. I train myself to run that fast. Pure and simple. Speed work, tempo runs, hill repeats, long runs with hard efforts – it’s not rocket science. But if you want to race fast you need to be prepared to train hard and train smart. And, of course, being able to run fast is determined as much by the swim and (especially) bike training I do as by the run sessions. If you want to run fast you also need to look at how you ride the bike. Plus, of course, there is strength work. Thirty kilometres into the marathon is a bit late to realise you could have done with a few gut-strengthening exercises to enable you to hold your form. I am a slave to the single-leg squat.

If you train slow then you will race slow  If you train fast you will race fast.  I recently had a conversation with Greg Larsen (The Life I Tri) and an email exchange with Matt Oravec (Staying Strong and Positive) about 70.3 Austin and race plan.  Essentially what all three of us came up with was laying it on the line.  Go hard the entire time and if I blow up on the run and don't hit my goals so be it, I put for the best effort I had on that day.

This brings me to this mornings training session.  I have recently put my trainer in the garage (officially now known as The Humidor) and wore a t-shirt, long-sleeve shirt and hoodie sweatshirt so that I could mock the conditions I will see in May at Ironman Texas.  If I could handle the sweat loss and practice my race day hydration and nutrition then I will have limited the surprises on race day.  I also incorporated the idea of riding the trainer with limited water.  Why?  Well on race day when you are on the bike for 5-6 hours there may come a time when you forget to take in water.  Practice, practice, practice.

Then once the trainer ride was done I put my running sneakers and went out and ran.  Not just coasted through the 20 minute run, but run hard and fast.  In that first 0.5 miles I thought I was going to blow up but then my legs decided they were going to participate.  I looked down at my watch and was running a 6:48/mi pace and felt strong and that I could hold this.  I finished the 20 minute run at a pace of 7:01/mi.  Last week my pace was 7:24/mi.  My body is capable of more than I thought.  Now my mind knows this and my body is saying yes let me go.  Let me out of the cage.

One week from today I will have finished my second 70.3 race of this year.  I have my goals in mind and will write a post about them but know that I will be pushing my body to go as hard as I can for as long as I can because I have trained that way.

Do You Coast Through Your Training?

What Does Your Mind and Body Allow You To Do?

Jason Bahamundi

About the Author:

I grew up in New York and lived there for 34 years until I got divorced and moved 1600 miles to my new home in Texas.  I love New York and miss it but that does not mean that Texas hasn’t been great to me because it has.  It was here that I discovered endurance sports and specifically the sport of triathlon.  Triathlon has given me new life through all the challenges it presents.  I no longer look at life the same way and I can say that is in part due to my endeavor into this sport.

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