All there is to say is, no matter what anyone says, it comes down to a run.
The old adage “begin with the end in mind” will definitely apply to triathlon training and races. You can always walk the run portion as a last resort, since it is a long portion of the race, but it can make for a long day.
A better strategy to consider would be to be ready to run the running leg to get you to the finish line just a little bit faster.
Besides, it is a lot more fun to pass others who may have sped past you on the bike leg of the race.
Here are a few tips to get you started:
1 Pace yourself: The swim and bike leg portion of the race will set up the run portion. The main goal is to pace you right during the first two legs. This may mean you will back off from a full force pace by 10 – 20%, but will help you be able to do a better job for the final portion, which is the run.
2 Practice transitions: The only way to really learn how to have the right bike pace for going into a solid run is to practice going from one to the other and doing it over and over. Doing the dress rehearsal will bring confidence, but also allows your body to adapt to physiological changes needed to effectively transition from the riding portion to the running portion.
3 Go negative: You should also practice running faster during the second half of the run on a regular basis, i.e. a negative split. By using the first half of a training or transition run you can focus on your form and turnover. Then you can pick it up a bit during the second half.
Make sure to practice this early and often during your training and you will find that you can pick off the competitors one by one as you head towards the finish line.
The Hardest Part of your Race
Pushing hard isn’t what the hardest part of the race is … it is backing off that will be the toughest thing to do. With that being said, the running leg is the only part of the race where you can leave it all on the course.
During the first 60 – 70% of the run you need to make sure you focus on energy management along with pace. Once you either get to the 8 mile point of a 70.3 or the 16 mile point in the marathon, then it is the time to see what you really have left.
Whether you are feeling capable of increasing the pace or simply keeping from slowing down, make sure to reserve energy for the last 30 – 40 % of the race.
This combined with the adrenaline rush that will come with finishing, this can provide the extra kick needed to finish the triathlon with the needed confidence and optimal speed.