Here are some different ratios I used during the Half Ironman Run Leg over the 13.1 miles:
Run 2 x 45 strides (b/c I get lost counting to 90)
(This only worked in the beginning but was helpful in keeping my cadence quick and efficient)
Run 3 x 45 strides
Run 60 strides
(This one worked really well!)
Run 1/10th of a mile Walk until I hit the minute mark
(Similar to the one above it but gives me confidence I am easily below 10’ average--those 2 miles ended up at a 10:23 but I did walk 3:20 each mile so not too shabby)
So, the reasons why I LOVE to run/walk (especially in a triathlon or long distance I am not able to sustain my sub 8’ pace) include:
Note: In order for this strategy to work for you,
you must develop an efficient stride you can sustain and repeat for a 30” interval and you have to practice to see what works for you.
Easy ways you can try it out--
So you don't want to walk during your run, eh? What did you say your goal was again?
If you just can't seem to get your run averages to drop under a ten minute mile, continue to experience chronic overuse injuries and inflammation and feel miserable and afflicted during your training...this might be a good strategy for you!
On a regular basis I teach concepts that support a run:walk approach. Yes--I understand that, for most of you, walking during a run isn’t sexy. You see it as weakness or failure. If you are already happy with your running performance, pace and injury status then this may not be for you. I’m writing this today to simply share my experience because you may benefit from it and be pleasantly surprised.
Without recalling my entire running career, I will simply say I have never considered myself a distance runner. I ran the quarter mile in high school then took up 5k’s in my 20’s. When I tried to run longer my knees and hips hurt a lot so I concluded I would never be able to run more than 5 miles or so with any efficiency or without pain. I took up triathlon in 2004 because I thought the cross-training would be a fun challenge. Once a year I ran 6.2 miles at the Bolder Boulder--and never matched the distance in preparation.
My husband, Roby and I, began to add mileage around 2006 and mostly struggled to keep the pace around a 10’ mile average, despite running our speed work in the 7-8’/mile range. At Roby’s first half marathon, any time we slowed to over a 10’ pace, I instructed him to either speed it up or walk to a selected landmark. He didn’t want to walk, for the same reasons many of you don’t, but didn’t argue, and that was our first taste of messing with a loose walk:run technique. We finished in 2:04:46, a 9:30 pace--safely under the 10’ mark.
We didn’t really fine-tune a structured run/walk strategy until 2010 when Roby was training for the Ironman. The goal was to average a 10’/mile pace for the marathon. We had discovered our bodies felt better and lasted longer within a long run when we simply ran a faster pace. This pace was not sustainable so then we would walk to recover and go again.
For the marathon long-run trainings we ran a mile at a steady pace (say 8-9 minutes each) and then walked to the ten minute mark on the clock. Repeat, repeat, repeat. Over the miles we accumulated rest time and if we needed it, we could use and if not we would end up running under 10’/mile average. We ran our first ever marathon together using this technique and finished at a 9:13 average...and did 5 pushups/mile on top of it.
Over time we experimented with different strategies and eventually sped up our moving paces. Any time I head out for a long run I always practice with different strategies, breaking the long run into thirds with a more conservative interval in the warm-up and a more risky interval during the main-set.
Fast Forward to Present-Day...
Yesterday, September 30th 2012. I was ready for the run leg of the 2012 Ironman Augusta 70.3 having just ran a 1:46 half marathon the previous week and a with current 70.3 run leg personal record (PR) at 2:06. Even though I was happy with my 1:46 (sub 8’ pace) at the free half marathon, where I ran mostly mile repeats with a few scheduled stops, I knew I would need a more conservative strategy during the triathlon to follow the 1.2 mile swim and 56 mile bike ride.
I truly just wanted to run under 2 hours yesterday (9:09 pace), even though anything under a 9:36 would be a new PR. In training for my upcoming IM, I decided to start out aiming for a 10’ pace and hoped my legs would feel so good that I would end up far below. The first three miles I ran one minute and walked 30 seconds and was reminded how good it felt in comparison to the stupid mile repeats I had done the week before. I felt great and ran the first 3 miles (walking included) under a 9’ mile. The only time I stopped counting strides was when I was running through the motivating party-central in the downtown area and when I spotted Roby, on his second lap. I’m sure I burned a few matches in both spots but decided to have a little fun while it lasted.
My split times were all over the place (from 7:41-10:43), primarily because I kept using different interval strategies. I change my run:walk ratio based on how my legs feel at the time and my moving pace. My goal was to keep my “moving pace” at or under a 7:30 pace.
Yes, sticking to the plan requires a lot of counting and takes a bit of easy math, but you can’t run with headphones, so what else are you going to think about? The pain you’ve had in your feet, knees, calves, hips, back since mile 4? How many miles you have left to go? How much the IM is going to suck? (The answer, by the way, is--5 times as much!)
I always look around and pretty much everybody else looks miserable--and it’s not for lack of training. It’s usually because of their strategy...or lack of strategy. Onlookers offer encouragement/sympathy/pity--I decided I need to wear a sign that says, “I walk because I choose to.” Other runners think you are hurting or get annoyed by all your leap-frogging--but I suspect their irritation stems from the fact that they don’t have the acceleration in their legs.
The End Result
The final two miles of the run took the most concentration because it was over five hours into the event. I finished the final mile at an 8:20 pace--with a brilliant pass of at least 4 other triathletes. Had I ran attempted to average a 9’ pace the whole time I would have ended up slowing to a painful 10’ pace or worse and be a lot more sore today.
I ended up averaging under a 9’ mile, safely under my goal.
When you run at or above a 10’ pace your stride is so short you experience a lot more up and down impact, and any tightness you may possess simply ratchets down tighter and tighter with every step. When you run faster your stride is more efficient and you can distribute the load more evenly. Then, the walking helps your legs rest a bit, reset and get ready to go again.
Join the Stoix for any of our group runs to learn more about improving your stride efficiency and how to put the pieces together to enjoy similar success.
I realize this approach is not for everyone, but if think it might be just what you need, then send me an email!