For all of you out there who struggle on the run I am trying to find the answer. The strategy of IM pacing in full of nuance, dark arts and so on. As a 6x IMer I have always raced on feel and my best race had a 3.38 marathon in it. My PB for a standalone is 3.18 but that was 5 years ago. I know that I dont run well on hot and hilly courses (see Lanza and then last year at IMDE where I think the heat got me). The challenge for me has been to significantly improve my run endurance so that translates into a faster IM marathon.
I have tried a variety of ways to reach the targets I set for myself. Volume I think is part of the key and I have certainly raced better of a solid block of 6 hr run weeks but as a time limited IMer this is often difficult, if I am to maintain the bike volume of typically 9-12 hrs during the build phase and to keep 2.5-3hrs of swimming in the mix. This year I achieved my volume but it was all done at a steady pace never exceeding my IM pace. This was based on some observations that until you are targetting a specific volume (say 6 hrs running a week) speed work is unlikely to be beneficial for an IM racer unless you are running right up at the front of the pack. I liked the idea of this since it should "lock in" your race pace and maximises the benefit of each session by avoiding the hangover into the next session associated with faster running... But I often found myself running fatigued and plodding away doing my own version of the IM shuffle but in training.
I think that in order to run well you need to train to run with good style so that you learn to recruit the right muscle groups and get a good balance and style. I think to achieve this you need to either be doing drills when you are fresh (a state not commonly associated with an IMer in the midst of their build blocks of training) or you need to find another way to promote more balanced running. The obvious option is to either do some speedwork or hills or both. The advantage of this is it engages my brain a bit more so I am not merely slogging out another run but I am thinking about the session and hopefully will increase training effect. As ever there is always a balance which is the risk associated with increased running stress. Now I am sure for you 65kg types with a good running history their is probably less of a need to focus on the running training in quite the same way. But for the heavier athlete we need to develop the strength to go with the endurance since we have got more mass to carry.
So having decided this year I will concentrate on trying to get a faster IM mara time and see where I can cut back on the bike training hours without losing the important bike strength. I now just have to work on and implement the plan... which for me means an ever more cautious approach to how I increase my run stress and a hope that this years prehabilitation in the gym is gonna help strengthen me so that my body can greater withstand the demands placed upon it.
To this end i have joined RussC in the advent challenge which has helped push up the run volume this month. Next month I will go back to a more balanced 3-4 run week but try to keep the overall volume about the same building towards an early April marathon (sussex or brighton) as a staging post and also an attempt to get a 3.14.xx so i can go GFA in the Virgin London Marathon in 2012!
so there we have it. time to remember how to ride a bike!