Triathlon is a multi discipline sport and in order to get faster on the run, you need to improve your performance on the Ironman swim and bike too. That at least is the opinion of Mark Livesey. Mark joins us on this episode of The Kona Edge to tell us about what he has done over the years to improve his Ironman run.


BRAD BROWN: Welcome onto this edition of The Kona, it’s great to have you with us, thanks for joining us today and we head back to the United Kingdom once again where we’re joined by Mark Livesey. Mark, welcome back onto the show, thanks for joining us today, time to chat some running. You make no bones about it, you really do enjoy running and you’re pretty good at it too. Can you pin it down to one thing that you’ve done over the years that has really made a difference to your run performance?

MARK LIVESEY: For me, the running, the thing is with the triathlon is, and lots of coaches talk about this and Brett certainly in particular talks about this is that triathlon isn’t swim/bike/run, it isn’t three separate disciplines, triathlon is triathlon and it just happens to incorporate three disciplines and for me being able to run well off the bike, you have to run off the bike a lot because that’s the sport, that’s what you do. Again, in my experience, I’ve seen lots and lots of clean runners, when I mean ‘clean runners’, I mean pure runners, great runners, club runners, your sub 2:30 sort of marathon guys, I’ve seen them do Ironman events fully expecting to be able to run a 2:45, a 2:50 and they’re running 4 hours and I’ve seen that a couple of times. The sports are very different, so I advocate, and I do a lot of brick intervals, lots of running off the bike and a do a lot of broken intervals off the bike, if that makes sense? What I mean is, I’ll do the bike ride will be a pretty non-prescriptive 2-3 hours, but it’ll be enough to illicit the same sort of physiological responses that you would expect in a race. When you’re running off the bike, you’re heavy-legged and I will run a miler at pace, then I’ll run 4 x 400’s at a minute quicker than my Ironman pace. Say I want to run [17?] mile off a bike from Ironman pace, I’ll run one mile 7 minutes, I’ll take a wee break, a gel and a Coke and then I’ll run 4 x 4’s in 90’s or 85’s, take 45 seconds rest and I’ll do that 12 miles. I think that for me, and certainly for a lot of my athletes that I coach, they respond very, very well to that type of stimulus, running off the bike, intervals off the bike and the other thing it gives them is confidence in their ability to run fast off the bike and actually run fast for quite a considerable amount of distance, but I don’t prescribe anything more really than 16 miles with this kind of stuff.

I’ll do two mile reps, three mile reps and again, you’re reducing the speed every time to replicate the distance, but I would never exceed 16 miles and I’ve never run, or I’ve never prescribed a run over 2 hours. I think the damage that is incurred with a session like that, outweighs the physiological benefits and two hours is all you need to do, for me, personally. Any more than that is a waste. Lots and lots of bricks, keep it sharp and run off the bike a lot. I’m doing three this week cause Caroline and I are doing Lanza in two weeks’ time, so this is my last real block and these three bricks, it’s all about giving me confirmation and confidence to know that if I get my diet right, I can hold that pace and you want to give the athlete that confidence that they can hold that pace. So, that’s what I do, lots of broken intervals and lots of brick running, is what I would suggest.

BRAD BROWN: It’s interesting you mention that Mark because we touched on that the last time we spoke about the cycling and again, it’s just putting yourself in a position where you’re practicing what you would do on race day. It’s all good and well doing crazy, weird sets, but you want to imitate and mimic what you’re going to experience during an Ironman.

MARK LIVESEY: The thing is, an add on this as well is, I do get frustrated with, I’ll give you an example. I call it ‘binge training’ and essentially people will go out to a training camp, somewhere warm and they have the sea to swim in and this sort of thing, so you have the perfect environment in which to pinpoint specifics within a race, but what they end up doing is wasting that opportunity by just going out and riding, particularly riding, it just turns into a cycling camp. They’re running volume drops, they’re swimming volume drops, and they don’t really hit, cause they’ve done all the volume in the winter, they’ve done it all, now you need to start addressing what happens in a race. So if guys are going out on training camps, do swim to bike sessions. I call them ‘double denims’, you’ve heard that term Brad?

BRAD BROWN: No I haven’t, tell me?

MARK LIVESEY: A double denim, it’s like a derogatory term, so you would never wear jeans and a denim jacket, it’s a fashion faux pas, so it’s a double denim. I call these sessions double denim sessions because you’ve got to double up, you do two session of the same thing the same day but one of the classic things I like to give my guys when they’re away is they’ll do a swim, bike in the morning, say they just do an open water swim interval session, but they’ll ride a nice, solid race pace, sort of 2 hours on the bike, then come back, eat, relax, maybe have a little snooze, then I’ll want them to do that 2 hour ride again, and I’ll want them to do it probably maybe 5 minutes quicker, just pace it up a touch but then I want them to run, depending on their ability 6,8, or 12 miles off it and I could do that as an interval and that’s it. Within that, so they’ve swum, bike and run for the day, they’ve hit key specific areas within the race scenario, swim to bike for instance, it’s something we very rarely do, they’ve rode four quality hours that day, there’s no garbage, so they’ve done a really good 5-6 hour day of training and they’ve had the ability to sleep and eat in the middle of it. I think too many times they get caught up with the good weather and they just get on the bike and they ride 6/7 hours and then they won’t be able to perform the next day and they certainly won’t be able to hit any real key run or swim sets, they’ll just be too leggy and tired. If they use their environment, they should embrace it and really target the specifics to the race, is what I would say.

BRAD BROWN: Brilliant stuff, Mark, thank you very much for your time once again here on The Kona Edge, much appreciated, we look forward to catching up again soon. Excellent, some great advice there, thank you very much and thanks for your time.

MARK LIVESEY: It’s been a pleasure Brad.

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