Kona ’15: The Lessons Part 2

Gravitating towards the middle: I think this is a lesson everyone can improve upon. What do I mean by gravitating towards the middle? Let me use my run performances from 2014 vs. 2015 to illustrate. Here are my run splits from 2014:

Texas 70.3- 1:12:08

St. George 70.3- 1:12:18

Raleigh 70.3- 1:09:56

Syracuse 70.3- 1:09:54

Muncie 70.3- 1:10:54

Racine 70.3- 1:09:36

Steelhead 70.3- 1:12:36

70.3 World Championship- 1:11:21

Barrelman Half Ironman- 1:11:35

Ironman Florida- 2:44:12

Some of those I would say were underperformances. At Texas 70.3 for instance, I got two flat tires and was merely running for pride. At Muncie 70.3 I entered the lead at 10k and knew that I would be racing Racine 70.3 the next weekend, so didn’t want to stress the body unnecessarily. In Steelhead I was over five minutes ahead of second place by the halfway mark. Now, contrast that with my run splits from 2015:

Oceanside 70.3- 1:13:12

Galveston 70.3- 1:12:20

Ironman Texas- 3:11:22

Mont Tremblant 70.3- 1:11:14

Muskoka 70.3- 1:15:39

Racine 70.3- 1:15:46

Ironman Mont Tremblant- 3:00:37

Kona- 2:54:41

Sadly, none of the run splits in 2015 I find to be very impressive. For most of the year I scratched my head as to why my running looked and felt nothing like it did in 2014. Some may argue, “You biked a lot faster in 2015, and because of that your run suffered.” But this just simply is not true. I actually didn’t bike much harder at all in 2015. What changed is that I started using better equipment. For most of 2014 I was biking on Gatorskin tires (which are one of the slowest and heaviest tires on the market) and was making some very poor aerodynamic decisions.

So what was I doing differently in 2014 that I stopped doing in 2015? Well, I started “preparing specifically for the Ironman.” By this I mean I started to look at what good Ironman run paces and bike wattages are: Approximately 3:45/km (6:00/mile) on the run, and 320w on the bike. I then decided that I was going to spend a ton of time at these outputs. The logic here being a logic very similar to that touched upon in my last post: The more time I spend at these outputs, the easier they will feel.

What actually happened is that I started to gravitate towards the centre. Said another way, my HARD days got progressively easier, and my EASY days got progressively harder. So much so that by the end of July I was doing “hard intervals” at about 10.5mph (3:32/km) and I was doing my “easy” runs at 9.8mph (3:48/km).

Now contrast that with 2014. I NEVER spent any time even remotely near 10.5mph! The slowest I would ever do “hard intervals” at was 11.5mph (3:14/km) and my “easy” runs would never exceed 9.4mph (4:00/km), but often times would be closer to 8.8mph (4:20/km). By the end of July 2014 I was doing 10x1mile at 12mph and 1-2% grade. I couldn’t imagine doing that workout throughout most of 2015!

Long story short, if you want to be as fast as you possibly can on the bike and run, you need to make your HARD days really hard and your EASY days really easy!

Hypothesis: Spending time at race pace will make race pace feel easier.

Conclusion: False. Spending time well above race pace will make race pace feel easier.

8 thoughts on “Kona ’15: The Lessons Part 2

  1. Agree 100% with the lesson here. 3 years ago I had the same exact problem leading into Scotiabank 2012 where I tried simply running more mileage at marathon pace and my easy runs ended up being not that much slower than what i was doing on my hard runs. Ended up with a 2:52 marathon that year which was pretty much what I was running easy mileage at. The next season I tried to make the hard days actually hard running intervals at 5 and 10k pace and really only going a few marathon paced tempo runs here or there, and ended up with a 2:34 at scotiabank marathon. The only thing I would add is not to downplay the benefits of those moderately difficult days. Yes doing 2-3 really high intensity days and the other 3-4 days of the week really easy works well, but those runs in-between the easy pace and the really hard pace I’ve found also can offer huge physiological advantages. What I like to do then is schedule my 2-3 tough days and 3-4 easy days, and on one of the easy days I’ll just go at whatever pace I’m feeling on the second half of the run and it will usually end up being in that comfortably hard medium pace.

  2. This is the lesson of Matt Fitzgerald’s “80/20 Running”–a really great book with some compelling (and counter-intuitive) scientific evidence. Also, Frank’s comment above is consistent with the approach in “Run Less, Run Faster,” another really great book that I discovered recently. Both are easy reads and well worth the time. I’ve put the two training philosophies together to very good effect. Sounds like this approach would work well for you!

  3. I don’t remember where I read this, but the only time should be in zone 4, is on your way to zone 5 and on your way back…

  4. Pingback: Back to Basics: The Importance of a Strong Aerobic Base | Craig Moscetti

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