Ironman run tips: Make you hard runs even harder and your easy runs easier
Ironman run tips: Make you hard runs even harder and your easy runs easier

Ironman run tips: Make you hard runs even harder and your easy runs easier

Ironman run tips: Make you hard runs even harder and your easy runs easier

Desi Dickinson, who won her age group at the Ironman 70.3 in Durban yesterday, join us again and shares some of the things she has done to improve her Ironman run over time.

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BRAD BROWN: We’re going to chat some running now and Desi Dickinson joins us once again. Desi, your run. It’s your wheelhouse. You love it. Its nice getting off the bike knowing it’s business time and this is what I love doing.

A strong running base improves your Ironman run speed

DESI DICKINSON: Yes. I do love the run and I do feel fortunate that I do love the run. I think I’d rather be in a position to chase people down than to be chased. I do work quite hard on my run.

One of the good things about training with Helen for the visually impaired athletes was that I ended up doing a lot of base work because I was doing it at a slow pace. I think that was actually so beneficial for me when I look back. Because I got slower but now that I’m back into training I just feel the speed coming back. So, I think that the slow runs and that base work is so important and then to sharpen it up with the track work.

BRAD BROWN: I love that you said that about the base work. Because I think a lot of, particularly competitive age groupers, get impatient if they are using that approach. And it’s easy, like looking and seeing what you’re doing and think to yourself there’s no way this can actually be benefitting me.

Do easy sessions easy to benefit in your Ironman run

We did a session here on The Kona Edge, I’ll pop the link into the show notes, with one of the coaches, a mate of mine. As athletes we do our easy sessions too hard and our hard sessions not hard enough. We need to back off and really push hard on the tough ones. And he was talking about this exact thing. That backing off really at the time you might think I’m getting no benefit out of this, but long term it’s incredible what it can do for your performance.

Don’t settle for mediocre on your Ironman run

DESI DICKINSON: Absolutely. And I’ve specifically experienced that now. I went for a run with an older guy that is training for Comrades. I could just tell, and a lot of runners do this, they run at one pace. That is my pace. So whether I’m doing my long run or whatever I’m doing, it’s my pace. And it ends up being a mediocre pace because you’re never going to take time to do the slower stuff and build the different energy systems. And then to really be able to go hard when you need to go hard because that’s where the benefit comes.

And that’s the other thing. When you do that hard session it’s painful. I did a very tough one yesterday but it’s so rewarding in the end. But if you can’t push to that upper limit, then it’s a problem.

Push yourself beyond that upper limit on your Ironman run

BRAD BROWN: That’s where the gains come. When you push yourself beyond where you think you can go. But you can’t do that, as you say, session in and session out. You’ve got to have the opposite end of that extreme as well. Other than the base stuff that you’ve done now with the build up to 70.3 and Ironman in 2017, what are some of the other things that you think you’ve done over time that have moved the needle on your run?

DESI DICKINSON: In a word, it’s track work. Whether you do it on the track or on the road, but its speed work and intervals. I’ve been doing that consistently since I joined with Lucie, since 2013 consistently doing track work. And the only time I take a break is after a race for a week or two but then I’m back on the track.

Speed work and interval workouts

Depending where we’re at, we’ll be further out from a race and what distance the race is, determines the intervals and the length of intervals that we do. But I would, to anybody that wants to take their run to the next level is speed work. Whether you’re doing it on the track, track is probably the best, or on the road.

BRAD BROWN: As far as your favourite workouts? Are they the track workouts or is there something else in your week that you particularly love doing?

Draw on your death sets at the point of pain in your Ironman run

DESI DICKINSON: It is track. We have one that we do probably 3 to 4 weeks out from Ironman, as a club and as a group. And it really is the death set. But we do 30 x 800’s with a 200 jog. I think it’s those sets that you’ll take with you into the race. And at that point of pain. Because there is going to be that point of pain. And particularly in the run is to dig deep and to be able to draw on those sessions. But that 30 x 800, we do a 1 or 2 hour ride before with some time trial straight into this track session. So it’s a monster of a day but it’s actually so good mentally to get that session under the belt.

BRAD BROWN: I’m scared just thinking about 30 x 800’s.

What is worse – Dentist or track work?

DESI DICKINSON: I’m driving to the track one day and there was a sign that said Dentist, left. And I rather wanted to turn to go to the dentist instead of track. That’s when you know it’s going to be bad.

BRAD BROWN: That’s fantastic and for anybody who knows Lucie Zelenkova, I think the dentist might be less painful. She’s an incredible coach but gee, she’s a hard taskmaster. But she gets the results and I guess that’s what you need.

Desi, as always great to catch up. Thanks for your time and I look forward to chatting about your nutrition next time out.

DESI DICKINSON: Great. You’re welcome.

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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