We touch base with Damien Coad to discover what he has done over time to improve his Ironman run as well as the mental diagnostic checklist he uses to run more efficiently.
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BRAD BROWN: It’s running o’ clock. We head back to Cairns to catch up with Damien Coad. Damien, welcome back. You’re a pretty decent runner, just looking at your splits.
Ironman Kona 2016, 3:13 run. You were in the top 3, in the top 10 of your age group run, split wise, which is pretty impressive on the Big Island. It is, I reckon, your strongest of the 3 disciplines, would you agree?
The Ironman run – what’s the secret to running well off of the bike?
DAMIEN COAD: Yes, yes. I think it’s obvious that it’s the one that I’m strongest in. I wouldn’t say I enjoy it the most but certainly, seems to be the one where I excel.
BRAD BROWN: What’s the secret to running well off the ironman bike?
DAMIEN COAD: I’m not telling!
I don’t know if there is a secret Brad. For me, running well off the bike is obviously having a good bike leg, which means not riding too hard. It’s an obvious straightforward equation. But I’ve always kept with me that advice, that there is no such thing as a good ride and a bad run leg. I think that’s very true.
Good technique translates into efficiency on your Ironman run
So, I see that those 2 legs as one essentially, but in trying to run fast off the bike, I just think that I’ve always been a runner with good efficiency. Technique really does help in terms of the way you run. That includes things like your cadence, how you strike the ground. How you use your arms, your core, your mind. Everything. Your neck, your sighting.
All those little things come into play. If you can focus your mind on doing these diagnostic checks throughout the run, you don’t really feel the underlying pain that tries to creep into your mind, and keeps your mind busy. Before you know it, you’re into a steady rhythm.
Once you’ve found your rhythm, stick to your plan. Keep your nutrition up, hydration and all of that, I think you can’t really do much more than that Brad.
BRAD BROWN: Are you a high volume type of guy, or are you more into the lower volume, high intensity sort of training?
Is high volume and intensity the best for Ironman run training?
DAMIEN COAD: I’m the latter there Brad. I don’t think I’ve run my long runs on a weekly schedule. Might be that the longest is 20 km. Maybe one and a half to two hours at the most.
The reason for that is I’m a light framed guy. I know I can run that far, I know I have the endurance. So, I like to be able to run in my natural gait which is at a certain speed, I don’t like to run at a slow speed. Injury wise, I do tend to run just a little bit faster. But over a shorter distance like 20km. Otherwise I’ll just do maybe 2-hours on the trails. Just through mountain trails and then I might do some short speed stuff throughout the week that’s no more than 5 – 8 km each session.
BRAD BROWN: Your favourite run workout, what do you absolutely love?
Mixing it up benefits the entire body on your Ironman run
DAMIEN COAD: Just anything outdoors in the mountains and on the trails Brad. We’ve got some great challenging trails here that start close to where I live in town. Maybe some beach or deep sand running.
All these things to always maintain my parts. Tendons, ligaments, muscles, all the small muscles that go towards balancing the bigger muscles. And there’s no monotony in it.
There’s a lot to gain from it as long as you do it sensibly and don’t over do it. That’s probably my favourite workout, anything on trails.
BRAD BROWN: You mentioned the mental diagnostics during the race and the check list. Talk to me about that process and why you do it. How you do it and what it does for you.
Mental diagnostics keeps you in check for an efficient Ironman run
DAMIEN COAD: It does a lot. First of all mechanically, it keeps you in check for an efficient running style. I always start with making sure I’m running high on the balls of my feet, or my toes as much as I can. That’s my first and foremost priority.
I drive with my knees and my elbows that my cadence is not too slow, that my steps are not too long. And that my shoulders and upper body is relaxed, leaning from the ankles. I’m not too tensed up. Then I just play a little game with objects on the road to keep my mind busy. Just small targets every 1 or 2 hundred meters.
BRAD BROWN: Awesome. Damien thank you so much for your time once again here on The Kona Edge. Much appreciated. Look forward to chatting a little bit about your nutrition next time out. Thanks for your time today.
DAMIEN COAD: Thank you Brad, cheers.
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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