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Four Tips For A Running Breakthrough

  • By Jene Shaw & Bethany Mavis
  • Published June 19, 2012
  • Updated June 19, 2012 at 2:34 pm

Consider yourself more of a swim-biker? Take advice from some of the sport’s best coaches on how you can shake up your training for a faster run split next race.

Practise race skills in a group. Sure, you know that group training helps push the pace. But it also helps your race skills, says coach Joel Filliol, former head coach for British Triathlon and Triathlon Canada. “Part of the skill of racing is being able to manage yourself well in an environment around others, with changes of pace and positioning, where decisions have to be made,” Filliol says. “You can learn how to get the most out of your performance in those environments—both physically and mentally.”

Try speedwork at night. If you’re typically a morning runner, switch to the evening for your next high-intensity workout. Why? “Because psychologically when you’re running at night you feel better,” says TeamTBB coach Brett Sutton. “The darkness seems to regalvanise you a little bit better, the wind goes a little bit more in the hair, and then you’re going faster.”

Cover the data at least once a week. Tim Crowley, coach to 2008 Olympian Jarrod Shoemaker, believes devices may be holding people back. Instead of giving a specific interval or heart rate, he’ll often just tape over the Garmin and say, “I want you to run fast.” Then he’ll collect and analyse the data afterward. “It allows them to break through,” Crowley says. “When they go fast, they need to go fast. So what if you’re supposed to do 10 and you only get nine because you totally imploded? OK, well you went as fast as you could and you learned something— now you know what not to do in a race.”

Think form to go fast. Instead of getting discouraged when someone passes you in a race—which will likely make you run slower—focus on a few specifics about your form, suggests Darren Smith, a coach to top ITU athletes such as Sarah Groff and Lisa Norden. “You’ve got to focus on the things that make you run fast,” Smith says. “What are your arms doing? Are you breathing well? Are you running heel-toe, or are you running mid-foot or whatever technical thing the coach has said in training? Are you drinking appropriately?”

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