Ironman Run - Find your winning recipe
Ironman Run - Find your winning recipe

Ironman Run – Find your winning recipe

Ironman Run - Find your winning recipe

The Kona Edge chats to Bob McRae today about his Ironman run. Bob shares his strategy of training on the treadmill and translating that onto the road.

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BRAD BROWN: Bob onto your Ironman run now. It’s up there. It was debatable which is your strongest, you conceded that it was your bike. But it helps having a fairly strong run as opposed to having a bike that’s miles ahead of the other 2 disciplines. Getting off the bike you still have some confidence that you are able to put in a good performance.

BOB MCRAE: Yes. I was very pleased with how Boulder went last year. In every respect except for this one. I think that comes down to the bike as well and that’s why I spent so much time on it from 2012.

Develop your Ironman run strength on the bike

In 2016, I think it was Gordon O’Brien who said that you’re not going to be able to use your run strength unless you’re strong on the bike. And so that’s where I spent most of my time improving. And the next 5 years I kind of focused on my swim and my run. I tend to run a fair amount. I peaked out last year at 80 miles in a week.

In fact I’ve already hit 80 miles a week this year in March on the treadmill, surprisingly. But I tend to run several times a week and I like to get up to the classic 20 mile run preparing for an Ironman, even for a half Ironman. That really benefits me.

BRAD BROWN: Tell me about that. Obviously you’re physically prepared for a full Ironman doing a 20, but going beyond what you would do in the half, is that just as much mental as it is physical preparation?

Ironman run – if you’re physically prepared then it’s less mentally taxing

BOB MCRAE: I think it’s not really as much mental because the half goes by so quickly. It’s just more physical strength and pushing hard on the bike and having tired legs. If you’re able to do a solid negative split 20 mile run in that half Ironman leg, you’re getting warmed up. It’s just nice to feel springy at mile 9 and you’re able to push it.

Of course it’s very different as you go onto the full so I think there’s people, in fact for myself, I did as I came back from my second Ironman in Cozumel 2013, and that was on the base of 1 hour runs. That was a fair marathon, it wasn’t great but it was sufficient.

I just feel that those longer runs it helps you focus when it gets tough. So I suppose a good degree of that is mental but if you’re physically prepared, it’s less mentally taxing.

BRAD BROWN: Yes absolutely. Bob, you mentioned when we were chatting about your cycling, that you prefer doing most of your training on an indoor. As far as the run goes, you touched on treadmill. Do you do lots on the treadmill or do you tend to get out more on the run?

Should you do Ironman run volume on the treadmill?

BOB MCRAE: In the winter it’s probably exclusively treadmill. I started back up in probably mid-November, maybe this year I’ll look at December very modestly and I ramped to 80 miles in the week in March, getting ready for the season this year. That was entirely on the treadmill.

I don’t mind doing a 2:20 run on the treadmill, it’s the first time I’ve gone beyond an hour and a half and it’s far easier on the body that’s for sure. What I noticed this year, and that’s probably the most I’ve ever run on the treadmill just in terms of volume and also the longer runs.

I was surprised at how it wasn’t translating over the road and I was curious to see how that translates for somebody like Lyle Sanders. It tends to work for him pretty well.

BRAD BROWN: Are you convinced yet or is the jury still out?

BOB MCRAE: I think for me, and maybe it’s just the settings or something like that, I feel like it’s probably a good early season prep for aerobic conditioning and just some degree of running form.

Ironman run on a treadmill is very hard work

But because the impact on the road, I think you’ve just got to get out there and get on the road and it’s just got to be part of the whole build up. I don’t think I’d want to prepare for an Ironman on the treadmill for sure. I think it would be too hard.

BRAD BROWN: Absolutely. As far as favourite run workouts go, what do you absolutely love doing?

BOB MCRAE: I think my favourite is just the long split runs, 20 miles.

BRAD BROWN: Simple as that?

BOB MCRAE: Yes. Go out at a marathon pace and come back at a half Ironman pace.

BRAD BROWN: I love that. You’ve mentioned negative splits a couple of times. Is that something that you strive for? Is it just in training or do you try to do that on race day as well?

Heart rate for best Ironman run performance on race day

BOB MCRAE: Training for sure. Typically when I’m just on a long run or an easy 1 hour run for example, but not like the long run where it’s a marked difference between the two. So for example, on the long run I’ll go out and heart rate will be on the way out 135 and I’ll be back at 155. So a big difference between the two.

Race day is very different. I think I’ve found that a constant heart rate is probably the best way to pace for an Ironman. Probably on mostly any course. I did a whole bunch of analysis last year of my training runs and how I ran uphill versus downhill versus flats. I don’t run well on hills anyway, but it turned out to look like I actually pushed it on the hills up and down and held back a bit on the flats.

But I opted for something a little bit more conventional and conservative which was just constant heart rate. A winning recipe.

BRAD BROWN: Well Brilliant. Bob thanks for joining us here on The Kona Edge today. Much appreciated. I look forward to chatting about your nutrition next time out.

BOB MCRAE: Sounds good. 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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