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BRAD BROWN: Let’s chat some running. We head back to Texas to catch up with Ben Fuqua. Ben welcome back onto The Kona Edge. Thanks for joining us today. You’re a machine when it comes to the run. You’ve got a couple of really good marathons on the back end of an Ironman.
BEN FUQUA: Yes, thanks for having me.
BRAD BROWN: Ben, what’s the secret to running fast off the bike?
Your bike fitness is key to a strong Ironman run
BEN FUQUA: First of all having your bike fitness where it needs to be is a big part of being a good runner. I think that gets overlooked sometimes. If you can’t put out the numbers on the bike that you need to have your legs fresh for the run, it doesn’t really matter how good a runner you are. I’ve had a lot of races where there are different elite runners that get off the bike and they can barely move. So I think having your bike fitness where it needs to be is a big key to having a strong run.
But also I think, I’ve done a lot of workouts here in the last several years with getting used to running fast but also being smart with your recovery, has helped me a lot.
BRAD BROWN: You talk about being smart about your recovery. You also mention that you’re not the smallest of triathletes, you’re bigger. And your recovery, especially when it comes to the run is vital as a bigger triathlete.
A little bit of recovery work after your Ironman run goes a long way
BEN FUQUA: Yes I’ve noticed that sometimes a little bit goes a long way with recovery. I try to do something every day whether it’s 5 minutes of stretching or 5 minutes of foam rolling, or getting in the Norma Tec Boots or whatever. Doing something every day because I find that that little bit of recovery everyday can go a long way, with the run especially.
BRAD BROWN: Are you a big volume sort of runner or not really? How many times a week do you run, what sort of mileage are you doing?
BEN FUQUA: I typically run 5 days a week. When I was doing my Kona training I was running at the most about 55 to 60 miles a week for 5 runs. That’s pretty high volume as far as I’m concerned with also having the bike and swim and strength exercises I was doing. Right now I’m still running 5 times a week but I’m down to about 30 or 35 miles a week.
BRAD BROWN: What run workouts are your favourite? What do you love doing?
Get used to what a fast pace should feel like on your Ironman run
BEN FUQUA: I know this is different but I love running on the treadmill. It has helped me with my pace in races a lot and that’s something most people don’t look at is the pace. But when I see the same pace across an entire run where the pace is not dropping very much, I love it.
I don’t like the kind of runs where you start out super-fast and just kind of die into the finish. And I love finishing strong and keeping that pace high the whole time and passing people on the last 3 or 4 miles. There I think the treadmill has really helped because it gets you comfortable running fast and it doesn’t slow down unless you tell it to.
So if you use that tool in the right way it can really help you get comfortable running at a certain speed for a long time. And getting used to what that pace feels like.
BRAD BROWN: You talk about the last 4 to 5 miles catching people and having a strong finish. Do you aim to try and run a negative split in an Ironman marathon or in a half marathon off the back of a half Ironman?
Become irrationally angry to push time in your Ironman run
BEN FUQUA: No. That’s not a specific focus of mine. With Ironman Texas last year, it’s a 3 loop course and so I was trying to be around an hour on each loop. That was really important to me. So each loop I was looking at my watch as far as the time and that was good being at 3:10. The last loop was definitely my slowest I think, but I was close to that one hour per loop thing that I was trying to do.
With Kona it’s just different. The first 10 miles in town I didn’t really have a goal. I was just trying to run well and have fun. There’s people everywhere screaming and there’s shade and a lot of nutrition.
But my goal once I got out on the Queen K, was to be just as mentally hard as possible, and get kind of irrationally angry about everything. So I don’t really focus on the time or the split. I focus more on different goals within the race as far as the run goes.
BRAD BROWN: Mentally tough. That’s what it takes. Particularly in the second half of a marathon when everything is hurting. Are there certain things that you do to keep yourself mentally tough or to train yourself to be mentally tough? Or to get yourself out of a situation where you may be struggling and you want to strengthen that and get a bit tougher mentally?
Simulating the hurt in your Ironman run and get mentally tough
BEN FUQUA: Yes I think in training I really try to delve deep into the mental side of a run sometimes and pretend that I’m on a course, or pretend that there’s somebody ahead of me. Or pretend that I’m really hurting or if I actually start hurting during a run, putting myself in that mental space of I’m hurting at mile 16 and this is what it’s going to feel like. Just so that you’re mentally ready for anything.
Like I said I try to get competitive. I’m typically a very chilled out person in training. But in a race I can get really focused and try to really kind of sharpen the sword during the run. And get irrationally angry about missing a water hand out, or somebody’s kid being too bright. Something like that just to get me started and keep me focused during race to help me keep that edge. Having a background in a lot of aggressive sports that definitely fuels my fire sometimes.
BRAD BROWN: I love that. Irrationally angry.
BEN FUQUA: Or irrationally competitive I guess.
BRAD BROWN: That’s fantastic. Ben as always, great to catch up. Thanks for joining us. I look forward to chatting a little bit about your nutrition next time out.
BEN FUQUA: Yes, thank you.
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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