Ironman Run Injury – Hacks to keep you injury free

Easing into it – How Sarah Thomas approaches the Ironman run

Rob Cummins Ironman Bike

In this edition of The Kona Edge, we head back down to Australia to catch up with Sarah Thomas and find out what her tips and tricks are to having a strong marathon.

 (Read the transcription of our chat here)

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Podcast Transcription:

BRAD BROWN:  Welcome back onto another edition of The Kona Edge and it’s time to chat running today. And we head back to Australia to catch up with Sarah Thomas. Sarah, welcome back onto the podcast. Thanks for joining us.

SARAH THOMAS:  Thanks for having me.

BRAD BROWN:  Sarah, let’s talk about your run. Out of the three disciplines it is your strongest and you tend to run through the field, particularly on Ironman. When everyone else’s wheels come off you seem to get stronger and stronger. What’s the secret to putting together a strong marathon at the back of a 180km bike?

SARAH THOMAS:  I think pretty obviously the key is don’t smash yourself at the start of the marathon. You have a long way to go and I like to just ease my way into it and try not to worry about who else is where, just run your own race. Yes, I just start out really comfortable and stay really comfortable and when I know I have 10 or 12km to go that’s when I try to pick it up a little bit and give whatever else I have left really until I get to the finish line.

BRAD BROWN:  Some of us have to wait a little bit longer. I wait until I see the red carpet and then I smash it.

SARAH THOMAS:  Well yes, just depending on how I’m doing.

BRAD BROWN:  Sarah, one thing in our first chat when you spoke about your first Kona experience where you had that horrible bike and you got off the bike feeling really terrible and things came right fairly quickly feeling wise, but you felt like you weren’t going that fast and you ended up having a really good marathon. How big a role does planning pacing in a marathon as opposed to executing on race day – and what I mean by that is do you go into a race going this is the pace I’m going to run off the bike or do you really play it by ear and go you know what I’m feeling rough today I’m going to hang back and see how we go or do you stick by the numbers and see what happens?

SARAH THOMAS:  Yes, absolutely. I’m definitely someone that I do not think that looking at numbers is a very good idea. It’s something that I’ve never ever, ever done and definitely going by feel I would say is the way to go. Every race is different, conditions are different, there are so many different factors that can play into it. There’s no way that I would go I want to be running this pace and what if the Garmin has it wrong, what if this is not actually the pace you’re running? It’s not a 100% accurate, but I think yes, definitely I just ease my way into it.

I just see how I’m feeling and like I was mentioning before that first experience at Kona where I thought I was running very, very slowly and I thought to myself at least if I’m still running, if I’m still chipping away at it I’m still going to get to the end quicker than if I walk, even if it is really, really, really, really, really slow and it ended up not being that bad. So you just don’t know and plus you know perhaps the conditions are affecting everybody in a similar way.

I think you just have to keep going because if you’re the one that keeps going and everyone gives up it doesn’t matter how slow you are because you’re still going to be in front of the other people. So yes, I’m a big believer in just see how you feel, especially when you’re running a marathon at the end of an Ironman you just have to stay comfortable for the vast majority of it and see how you go, but certainly for me looking at numbers would be the worst thing I could do.

BRAD BROWN:  Do you try to get to some point? You mentioned the 10-12km again. Is that set or is it by feel again? Like if you’re feeling good at 10-12 then you go or do you hang back as long as you can and then feel like ah, I’ve got enough in the tank and then I’m going to hit it?

SARAH THOMAS:  Yes, I guess if I wasn’t feeling good with this 10 to 12 case to go then I probably wouldn’t push it at that point, but I haven’t had that experience yet, touch wood. Let’s hope it doesn’t happen this year. But yes, up until now in an Ironman I’ve gotten to that point and I’ve been able, luckily, to actually feel like I’m lifting a bit. Probably the pace doesn’t actually increase that much but what I feel I’m doing is I feel like I’m able to push a little bit harder from that last little bit but yes, certainly if I wasn’t feeling good and I wasn’t able to then I wouldn’t. I’d probably wait a bit longer.

BRAD BROWN:  What are some of your favorite run workouts, what do you love doing?

SARAH THOMAS:  Again, probably short, fast stuff I think would be a lot of what I do. I did a really good long run set the other day, which was really good, the [Anita Wayman Set], which I really enjoyed. So that’s basically a bit of fartlek session. Say for example it’s two minutes, a bit faster, then one minute a bit slower and then it increases to four and two and six and three and all the way up to ten and five and then back down and so yes, a little bit of a pyramid of fartlek intervals, which I really enjoyed. It helps to pass the time a little bit on a longer run, but generally with running again, usually like to keep it short and fast rather than just go in for hours and hours at a time.

BRAD BROWN:  Have you changed much now that you have a coach. Has the type of sessions you’re doing in a week and the way you’re structuring those sessions changed a lot?

SARAH THOMAS:  Yes, I think a little bit. Not heaps, but there’s probably more. I used to do a few more interval sessions where I’d do however many, six hundreds or however many k efforts or whatever, but it’s all continuous running that I’m doing. Still interval work, but just all continuous running now and probably a little bit more of it actually.

BRAD BROWN:  Brilliant. Well Sarah it’s been great catching up once again. I look forward to touching on your nutrition strategy and how you approach an Ironman from a nutrition point of view but we’ll save that for next time.

SARAH THOMAS:  Okay, thank you.

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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