On this episode of The Kona Edge we chat to Joe Duckworth about his love for running.  We touch on what his strategy is to improve his speed and pacing and find out how he conditions his body for his favourite workout sessions.


BRAD BROWN:  You’re listening to The Kona Edge, I’m Brad Brown and we head back to the UK once again, Joe Duckworth joining us in Lancashire.

Joe, welcome back, nice to touch base once again.

JOE DUCKWORTH:  Nice to be back, how you doing?

BRAD BROWN:  Yeah, fantastic.

Joe, let’s talk about your run, you were fortunate enough, and I say ‘fortunate enough’ because I think a lot of age groupers who don’t come from a competitive running background wish they did cause we all know how important the run is in an Ironman.

Do you think it’s a bit of an advantage that you’ve got, having raced as a youngster, at a high level when it comes to running?

JOE DUCKWORTH:  Absolutely. It’s nice and I don’t mean this to sound very horrible, but it’s lovely being in T2 when you know if all things go according to plan, you’re going to be passing people, it’s a good place to be.

I love the running, I love the actual, I love everything about the run quite honestly. It’s where I like to be.

Preparing your body to race in Kona

BRAD BROWN:  Joe, you also mentioned in our first chat, just with regards to the heat and acclimatizing in Kona, often it’s the run where people really struggle with the heat. Have you done anything specific to get you ready to race in those conditions as opposed to racing in the UK?

JOE DUCKWORTH:  You know what, the only thing I can say that I did, I did a lot of indoor treadmill sessions. Obviously I don’t have the, I’m not fortunate enough to be able to afford to go to a lot of training camps in Spain etc, where it’s lovely and warm. So I do a lot of treadmill sessions and obviously that with a long sleeve top on, doing intervals for an hour or an hour and a half, you definitely do suffer. You have to get the fluids in, so I was taking my fluids in, what I’d take on the run, see how they react with the body and obviously you sweat, I sweat buckets quite honestly and just getting used to it that way.

I did have an offer to go to a climatic chamber at a university near to where I live, but I never got a chance to go because of work, which is something I’ve been looking forward to doing if I qualify again.

I think it was more of managing it on the day really, for me. I have ideas how to manage myself on the day, once again, in those conditions.

BRAD BROWN:  When we spoke about your bike you spoke about junk miles. Do you feel the same way about it on the run and maybe even more so because the run is so physically taxing compared to the bike?

Why junk miles can affect your training

JOE DUCKWORTH:  More so, I think. I think, the trouble with junk miles on the run, because of the actual fatigue on your body and the damage you can do to your legs, just you know, delayed onset muscle soreness etc, I think it’s more important cause if you do a bunch of junk miles for two hours plus, the effects on the rest of your training week can be even worse than junk miles on the bike. Again, super-super specific with the run.

BRAD BROWN:  Do you find, coming from a running background that you almost, I don’t want to say you’re lazy on the run, but you almost feel like you don’t need to work as hard for it because it comes a bit easier? Or do you put in tons of work on the run?

JOE DUCKWORTH:  No, I look forward to my run work. I do, I think if I’m being honest, the difference,  and this is how I look at it, from a bike and a run point of view, I don’t really know how to hurt myself on a bike, such as a time trialist does.

But when it comes to running, because I’ve done it in the past and it’s all in the memory bank and I remember from years gone by, I know exactly how much I can hurt on the run and get away with it, if you understand what I mean. I know what point I can go to before I’ll blow up and I’ll get away on a 10km run, a 13 mile run or a marathon. So I know the exact point where I can be before things start to go wrong and I think that’s just knowledge of doing it for years and years. To be honest with you, I think that’s all it is.

BRAD BROWN:  Yeah, and knowing your body and like you say, it’s the experience of having done it for a long, long time. As far as workouts go, what are some of your favorite run workouts?

JOE DUCKWORTH:  Reps. I know cyclists talk lots about if you’ve only got a short period of time, for me, definitely, big gains from hill reps.

So I do one where I run out, I live near the fells, so lots of big hills and I’ll do a 25 minute run out. I’ll do three lots of six one minute hill reps, so there’s 18 hill reps in total. I run the first one, mark the point, jog back down, if it takes me a minute up, I’ll try and run down in a minute thirty, minute twenty when I get a bit fitter. And then I’ll try and hit the same point six times and walk down the hill, do another six, walk down the hill, do another six. That tends to sort your legs out.

I love treadmill sessions and long-run wise, I love to, maybe a two hour run, but I’ll build each half an hour or so and then into 15 minutes. I might start off below Ironman pace and then a stand-alone marathon pace, build up to half marathon pace, 10km pace into like 5km pace. So your last 15 minutes, although you’re not running 26 miles, you’re suffering somewhat that last half an hour you’re really putting yourself through it. So, they’re the kind of things I enjoy doing.

Will treadmill sessions improve speedwork?

BRAD BROWN:  Are you one for doing a lot of speed work, like on the track or not really?

JOE DUCKWORTH:  Don’t do a lot of track work, I do a lot of treadmill work. I’ll do a lot of like, one minute sessions or one K on the treadmill, so not a lot track work cause we don’t have a lot of track runners around here. There’s not a lot of track sessions to go out where I live really, not with people I know, anyway.

I tend to do a lot of work on the treadmill and believe it or not,  and people probably disagree, certain quality will definitely disagree, I do enjoy the treadmill. It’s specific, I can see my times, I can see my distances and it’s measurable each time I do it. I do like treadmill work rather than track work. So that’s where my speed work comes from.

BRAD BROWN:  Brilliant. Joe, is there one thing that you can pinpoint that’s made a big difference to your run performance that you’ve done that you would suggest or not necessarily suggest, but that other age groupers could possibly try out to help them improve?

JOE DUCKWORTH:  You mean on race day?

BRAD BROWN:  Or in training, it doesn’t really matter.

Train to make that difference in your run performance

JOE DUCKWORTH:  Well, in training obviously, it’s being conditioned to your running. I know the bike takes a lot of your time up and it’s the biggest thing on the day and people do rather spend more time on the bike. I try and do a long run each week, a hill run, sort of intervals on the hills and a treadmill session if I can, minimum.

Also just, when you’re doing your bike, just do that 15 minute run off the bike, I don’t, no more than 15 minutes off the bike generally, just 15 minutes, but I try and do it at a decent pace.

From a racing point of view, I think, I try and run within myself for the first thirteen miles, so I try and run negative splits, if I can and this has helped massively. You see so many people shoot out of T2 because they’re glad to be off the bike and they’re doing something different and they go off at like six forty minute miles or something ridiculous and a few will carry on doing that cause they’re fantastic runners.

I’ve always found, or I found in recent years that just by holding back for that 13 miles, get to the 13 mile point, have a look how I’m feeling, come out, afford to push a little bit, just so I try and push, but I’m safe in the knowledge if I can’t push then I hopefully have not over-reached and I’m still going to do a decent marathon. There’s nothing worse than getting to 13, 17, 20 miles feeling dreadful. It’s hard enough on the day without making it worse for yourself by going off too quick. So don’t get too excited too early.

BRAD BROWN:  Welcome to my world!

JOE DUCKWORTH:  Brilliant.

BRAD BROWN:  Joe, it’s always great to catch up, we look forward to doing it again. I want to find out about your nutrition. We haven’t touched on that at all over our last chats and I’m looking forward to finding out what you do and what works and what doesn’t work for you. But we’ll save that for next time if that’s good?

JOE DUCKWORTH:  Fantastic Brad.

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