Today on The Kona Edge Hayden Armstrong shares some of his most valuable tips on his Ironman run.
He reveals the benefits of incorporating Pilates into his training schedule.
BRAD BROWN: We chat some Ironman running here on The Kona Edge. We head back to Tasmania in Australia to catch up with Hayden Armstrong. Hayden welcome back onto The Kona Edge. Good to have you.
HAYDEN ARMSTRONG: Thank you. Thanks for having me again.
BRAD BROWN: Hayden, I’m impressed for someone who is as good as you are as a triathlete, your run out of the 3 disciplines, you’d say is your weakest, you’re a good runner but the other 2 are just slightly better. Do you think it’s a bit of a disadvantage coming into the sport of triathlon where your run is the weakest of the 3 disciplines?
If you can’t run you’ll get left behind
HAYDEN ARMSTRONG: I think so; I think the sport is evolving and it’s changing. I think the run times are just getting quicker and quicker. And if you can’t run you’re going to get left behind.
There are a lot of good bikers out there that can really bike super strong. But when it comes to the run they’re under done and by about that 21 or 30 k mark, they’re getting reeled in. So I figure the run is a really important part of it. It probably had been my weakest link and there’s been a lot of work that’s been put in. A lot of advice sought from people that have surrounded me to make some suggestions on how I could improve. It’s been a long journey to get there.
BRAD BROWN: What are some of the things you have done to improve your run?
Don’t underestimate your strength training in your Ironman run
HAYDEN ARMSTRONG: I think doing Pilates was one of those things. Don’t underestimate your strength training. And also for me it was speed work and long slow runs. Those were the 2 keys.
Making sure that I had speed sessions in my running each week and making sure I’ve had a long slow run. It’s worth it. A long slow run was 90 minutes or 2 hours and not running for pace or distance, just running for time.
BRAD BROWN: It’s interesting. That long slow run is one that a lot of people who are trying to get faster and stronger on the run, it almost comes across counter intuitive. You think how can that work, I need to run faster. Why would running slow help?
The Pilates and the strength training is another one. Where you think surely in order to run better you need to run more. Not sit on a ball or do weird exercises on a mat. But those two play a huge part in developing a good, strong, steady run.
Should you be running more to be better in your Ironman run?
HAYDEN ARMSTRONG: Absolutely. I’ve learnt over the course of my racing, you just have to make sure that you go out and get the miles in but you’re not actually flogging your body at the same time.
Those long slow runs is that active recovery. But also being out there for the two-and-a-half hours, that’s close to being out there for a marathon. It’s just time on your feet but it’s not actually punishing your body.
BRAD BROWN: How do you get the balance in a race to not go out too hard on the bike and save enough on the run?Particularly when it comes to your bike being your strongest and your run is not necessarily so. You’ve got to get that balance right so that you don’t blow it. Have a spectacular bike but then the wheels come off half way through the run.
Go out hard in your Ironman run and you will fade
HAYDEN ARMSTRONG: From my point I’ve learnt a lot that if you go out hard, you’re going to fade. I’d rather do it the other way and that’s what we focus my racing on. In the back end of my career racing age group, we’ve settled myself into the run and got myself comfortable. Then I’ve gone to work to make sure that I can reel it in and have a good strong finish.
If people go by you at the start, they go by you at the start. But if they’re going out in a blazing quarry and they’re out like deer in headlights, at the end of the day, at that 21 odd k or 30 k mark, you will most likely reel them in. And when you’re at that 34 k mark and they’re hurting, and you’re feeling pretty good you can put a fair bit of time in.
It’s taken a while but that’s the way that I’ve looked at my pacing, just building it up.
BRAD BROWN: I’ve tried the ‘go it and you blow it’ strategy. It’s not pretty.
Your Ironman run – run no matter what
HAYDEN ARMSTRONG: No it’s not. I’ve seen a lot of people having a long walk for 10 or 15 k’s. For me, as soon as you start walking your day is over. It’s run, no matter what.
BRAD BROWN: Let’s talk about some of your favourite run workouts. What do you thoroughly enjoy doing?
HAYDEN ARMSTRONG: I actually enjoy doing the speed workouts. One of my favourite sets is the 10 x 1k efforts or 6 x 1k efforts and you’re sort of leaning on 3-minute 50’s. Or start at 3:40 and then work your way down to 3:30 k’s. You have 20 minutes build up, so an easy 20 minute run to start with. Keep you in the gear and do your 6 x 1, or your 10 x 1’s and then have an easy 10 minute run after a 5 minute walk. I enjoy the spurting.
If you can’t do it in your Ironman race, don’t do it in training
My other favourite run is just the long slow Sunday run over hills of gravel. And being out on your own actually for a long run. I’ve always gone out on my own for mental strength. Don’t listen to any music. You can’t listen to the music during race day so don’t do it during the training.
BRAD BROWN: And trail versus road? I know there are some incredible trails in Tasmania. Do you spend a lot of time on the trails?
HAYDEN ARMSTRONG: I try and spend my long runs on trail. It’s just a bit softer on your feet. And also there’s no traffic around and you don’t have to wait at the traffic lights or anything like that. But yes, I’m a big fan of the trail running. Just being out there.
BRAD BROWN: You guys have got snakes. I’ll take my chances with the cars.
HAYDEN ARMSTRONG: Yes true. But in winter you won’t see them.
Get comfortable in your Ironman run footwear
BRAD BROWN: As far as gear goes on the run, what are you in? What do you use?
HAYDEN ARMSTRONG: I’m a Saucony Kinvara man for the racing. I’ve been in Saucony for probably 4 years now. Kinvara I use for racing and the Triumphs for training. I used to have a good set of Saucony Cortana’s for the intermediate stuff.
I’ve been with a guy by the name of Kim Gillard who owns a great store down here, The Running Edge. He’s really helped me with my running. Make sure you get the right shoes. I think it’s critically important to have the right footwear. And just because everyone might be going Newtons and things like that, or Hoka’s it doesn’t mean that’s necessarily going to fit your foot.
BRAD BROWN: Yes, find what works for you and use it. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
HAYDEN ARMSTRONG: Yes, and also rotate your shoes often. Don’t wait for the last minute.
BRAD BROWN: Yes. I need to take notes on that one.
Hayden as always great to catch up. Thanks for your time today. I look forward to chatting a little bit about your nutrition next time out.
HAYDEN ARMSTRONG: Alright, cheers. Thanks a lot.
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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