As triathletes, our goal is to swim, bike, and run as fast as possible for the given distance. Even if you’re not worried about going fast and you’re just out there to have fun, you will enjoy the experience a whole lot more if you are well trained and able to run well off the bike. In order to run efficiently off the bike, we must practice running off the bike. Having talked to numerous beginner triathletes, one of the more common statements that is often said about the run portion of the race is something along the lines of “my legs felt like jello” or “the run was so hard” and if you talk to veteran triathletes, its not uncommon for them to run equally well off the bike as they do on a solo run. One of the major reasons for this: the TRANSITION run!
The transition run teaches our body to run efficiently immediately after biking which is what we want it do during races. At Fast Forward Triathlon, we usually recommend at least two transition runs each week. One after a harder bike workout and one after your long ride. This is a good rule of thumb whether you are racing short course or long course as it will begin to teach the body how to work well off the bike.
The transition run can and should vary in intensity and duration. The sky’s the limit when it comes to these types of workouts but here are a few ideas that will reap great benefits!
1. For those new to transition runs and even those that aren’t, a short and easy run (10-20 minutes) off a hard or long bike will provide great benefits come race day. Just get out there and get it done!
2. For those focussing on short course races (sprint and Olympic), you want to mimic some race day efforts on the bike and run in a single workout. So after a hard bike, include some short intervals at tempo or race pace (anywhere between 2 and 10 minute interval length). For example you might try 4 x 2 minutes at race pace or 4 x 5 minutes at tempo or race pace. Work on building up the interval length as the season progresses and you get closer to your target race.
3. For those racing long course (70.3 and Full), it is a good idea to practice some longer bike/run workouts so that come race day, your body is ready to meet the demands of the longer run that comes after a long 56 or 112 mile bike. You want to make sure you build up to this kind of brick workout so that you don’t end up injured. You might try a 2-5 hour ride along with an hour run off the bike at a steady pace. The goal is to get the run done and not worry about the pace too much. It’s more about building up that bike/run endurance. If you have specific goals for a long course race, it is good to occasionally practice some race day efforts on the bike and run in a longer brick workout (e.g. bike 3 hrs with 3 x 20 min at race pace and run right off the bike 3 x 10 min at race pace with a few minutes easy between each set).
The transition run is one of the most important workouts we can do as triathletes. Start including 2 transition runs into your weekly routine and you’ll be well on your way to a great season. Thanks to Newton Running for the support of the FFT Pro Development Team. If you haven’t tried Newton running shoes before, you should check them out the next time you go into your local running store.
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Colin Riley is a member of the FFT Pro Development Team and a coach with Fast Forward Triathlon. Colin was the 2013 USAT Olympic Distance Amateur National Champion and is a Registered Dietitian and Personal Trainer. Colin can be reached at: email@example.com