Going from a 3:40 to a 3:10 Ironman Marathon: How did Richard Thompson do it?
Going from a 3:40 to a 3:10 Ironman Marathon: How did Richard Thompson do it?

Going from a 3:40 to a 3:10 Ironman Marathon: How did Richard Thompson do it?

Going from a 3:40 to a 3:10 Ironman Marathon: How did Richard Thompson do it?

Going from a 3:40 Ironman marathon to a 3:10 is tough but Richard Thompson has done it. On this edition of The Kona Edge he reveals what he did to shave 30 minutes off his marathon time.

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BRAD BROWN: You’re listening to The Kona Edge. It’s great to have you with us. I’m Brad Brown and let’s get those running shoes on and chat some Ironman running. We head back to Australia now to catch up with Richard Thompson. Richard welcome back onto The Kona Edge. Great to have you.


The necessary evil of your Ironman run

BRAD BROWN: Richard let’s talk about your Ironman run, and we haven’t spoken about it at all in our previous chats. Is it something you enjoy doing, or is it unfortunately a necessary evil? An important necessary evil because it’s the thing that finishes off the triathlon?

RICHARD THOMPSON: My relationship to the run is neutral, I don’t think it’s a super positive or a super negative. It was probably the reason why I couldn’t happen as a professional. There was no way that I could run anything under a 1:15 for a half marathon off the bike. I think my best was 1:17. Certainly, as an Ironman age grouper, the marathon after an Ironman, my times vary.

When I started out I did a 3:40, then a 3:30 and then I went down to 3:10 and 3:08. Around that 3:10 mark is essentially where I’m at. I don’t think I’m spending enough time running to justify anything quicker.

10km runs off your half marathon

BRAD BROWN: Those are decent Ironman run splits. And improvement wise that’s phenomenal. Particularly when you’re running just over 3-hour marathons. That’s a huge chunk off it. What would you attribute that to? Tell me some of the things you’ve done that have given you those gains on your Ironman run?

RICHARD THOMPSON: It’s certainly a boring answer to that question. I was fortunate that just before I started triathlon, I started doing 10km runs off half marathon runs. So, I started building the base before I really cared to know that I was building it.

The biggest improvement by far, looking back, I don’t know whether it was that base coming to fruition, I did a proper marathon. When I qualified for the first time in 2007 I had 10-months between. I chose not to do an Ironman in between that, but I did a marathon. And so, I knew that my run needed to improve.

Run miles to improve your Ironman run

I was going to do my run at Hawaii and I did a proper 16-week marathon build. My swim and my bike were affected for that time. Because you drop a lot of muscle mass and you’re not in the pool as much, doing a lot of run miles I think improved my running dramatically.

So, that sort of build, that sort of soul focus, was for me the key to bringing that run down from what was a good run at 3:30, to being consistently a 3:10 off the bike.

BRAD BROWN: Again, that improvement is just incredible. Workout wise, what do you enjoy doing?

What gets you out of bed for your Ironman run

RICHARD THOMPSON: I know you said about the bike why you enjoy getting out of bed in the morning. I love getting up and going for a trail run. As a trail run I think that’s great. Also, it’s good for strength and endurance.

But with a prescribed session I think you can get found out by a descending run. I’m the sort of athlete, because of my background as a professional, give me enough rest I can do anything you want on a track.

So, 10 x 1k’s and a minute’s rest, I can do forever. But put me on descending sessions and my overall endurance comes to the fore and I get found out.

So, something like a good warmup. A 70-minute main set might be 30-minutes in aerobic, 20 minutes at tempo and 15 minutes at threshold. If you like those sorts of challenges. They’re essentially just negative splits until you can’t go any harder.

Meet the demand of your Ironman run

One thing about that session is you’ve got to have the ability to meet the demand because it’s a demanding set. I don’t want anyone to try that and get injured, but it’s something that I find really puts you in your place in understanding where you are at with your fitness.

BRAD BROWN: It sounds like it could do some damage. The last thing you want to do is go and try that with not having the base and background building up to it. It sounds like you’ve been left to do some work.

Improve your Ironman run form

RICHARD THOMPSON: The other thing that I can recall. It really helps and that I prescribe for all my athletes, but I’m sure no one or not many will do it. Running drills immediately after a hard set. I can’t highlight the importance of that. So, you’re tired. Probably also prefer the style of the set as well to set you up.

But 10 or 15 minutes of good core running drills. So, you can do one with skips, one that drives off from the back foot, you can do climacteric work and fast feet. All those sort of things. If you do that 3 times a week, your form will improve dramatically and that’s a huge proponent that age groupers miss.

BRAD BROWN: That’s brilliant and I think that’s a good spot to leave it on for this edition of the podcast. Much appreciated Richard. We look forward to getting you on to chat a little bit about your nutrition next time out.


About Us

Brad Brown is a 40 something age grouper that dreams of one day qualifying for and racing on the big island (He may have to outlive everyone in his age group though).

Morbidly obese in 2009, Brad clocked in at 165kgs (363lbs) at his heaviest.

He's subsequently lost a third of his body weight on the way to a half Ironman pb of 5:06 and a full Ironman pb of 12:21.


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