Improve your Ironman: How to run a sub 3:30 Ironman marathon
Improve your Ironman: How to run a sub 3:30 Ironman marathon

Improve your Ironman: How to run a sub 3:30 Ironman marathon

Improve your Ironman: How to run a sub 3:30 Ironman marathon

We chat to Claire Davis on The Kona Edge about her Ironman run training strategy. She shares how she managed to run a sub 3:30 Ironman marathon at Kona despite having overcome a few injuries.

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BRAD BROWN: You’re listening to The Kona Edge. I’m Brad Brown. We head back to Australia now to catch up with Claire Davis. Claire, welcome back onto the podcast. Thanks for your time today.

CLAIRE DAVIS: Thanks for having me back.

Swim endurance improves your Ironman run

BRAD BROWN: Claire, as we’ve discussed previously, you come from a very strong swimming background. A lot of athletes that I have spoken to that come from that background have really struggled with the run. But you’re a good runner. Has it come easy to you?

CLAIRE DAVIS: I wouldn’t say it’s come easy. I think finding a pace and running at that pace, the swimming background has helped me with that. Just being balanced pace wise. So, it hasn’t necessarily been easy but the endurance from the swim background has definitely helped it.

BRAD BROWN: And from a joints perspective, have you struggled with injury? Obviously, swimming is not weight bearing whereas running is very weight bearing. Has that been an issue in your triathlon career so far?

Correct your Ironman run technique and be more efficient on the feet

CLAIRE DAVIS: I have had a few little niggles. I was a 200m breaststroker at swimming, so my knees and my hips are probably not in the best shape that they could be. In that respect, I guess I am lucky coming from that background, that I haven’t had too much. So, I had a lot of plantar fasciitis issues. Probably because my technique is not that great and it is something I am trying to work on. Being a lot more efficient on the feet.

BRAD BROWN: Swimming efficiency in the water is key and getting your technique and your stroke right. Tell me a bit about what you’re doing from that perspective. Obviously, you are looking at it, as you say. But what is it that you are working on, exactly?

What it takes to run a sub 3:30 Ironman marathon

CLAIRE DAVIS: To try to be lighter on my feet. Running a little bit on my toes. Apparently, my foot quite often clips my calf on the opposite leg when I’m bringing my leg through and that’s when I know that I’m starting to get really fatigued. When I’m clipping that calf. So, just trying to be conscious of that, and also strength work. I’m in the gym a lot more basically to improve this run technique.

BRAD BROWN: As far as favourite workouts, what do you love doing?

CLAIRE DAVIS: My favourite run workout is actually a series of 3 sets of 3 runs over a period of 24 hours. They vary. I may do one outside tempo run. Then, a bit of hill running and then one will be a treadmill run. Sometimes it’s speed, and sometimes it’s on an incline. Or it may be an Ironman marathon pace.

Build sub 3:30 Ironman marathon pace over short distances

So, I can get up to running 30km over a 24-hour period. Then I don’t have any of the fatigue I would have in my body, compared to if I had run straight 30km. I like that 24-hour period. So, that combination of the 3 sessions. I know I’m going to get big volume but I know I’m not going to hurt myself.

BRAD BROWN: Fantastic. Looking back, things that you’ve done over time, is there anything that you think has given you the biggest gains?

CLAIRE DAVIS: When I started with my coach, I said I think I can run a sub 3:30 Ironman marathon. I think I can run a 5-minute pace. So, we started running 10km at 5-minute pace and then increased it.

Train your Ironman run at marathon pace

Basically, just stayed on that marathon target and built up to it. I do everything at that type of marathon pace, outside of specific intervals and efforts. But if I had to go for a 45-minute run it would be at marathon pace.

BRAD BROWN: Interesting. You just use reverse engineering and you now have a sub 3:30 Ironman marathon in Kona which is nothing to scoff at.

CLAIRE DAVIS: It took 3 Ironman attempts to get a sub 3:30 Ironman marathon, but I guess to do it at Kona is not the easiest time to do that pace, so I’m pretty happy with that.

BRAD BROWN: I’m sure you are. Well Claire, thank you so much for your time here on The Kona Edge today. Much appreciated. We look forward to chatting about your nutrition next time out.

CLAIRE DAVIS: Thanks Brad.

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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