Rob Hill's secret to having a great Ironman run off of the bike
Rob Hill's secret to having a great Ironman run off of the bike

Rob Hill’s secret to having a great Ironman run off of the bike

Rob Hill's secret to having a great Ironman run off of the bike

We chat to Rob Hill about his Ironman run performance today on The Kona Edge. Rob shares his strategy to reduce injuries and chats about his favourite Ironman run workout that helps him improve performance.


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BRAD BROWN:  Let’s chat some running here on The Kona Edge today. We head back to Australia, to Melbourne Victory to catch up with Rob Hill. Rob welcome back onto The Kona Edge. Thanks for joining us.

ROB HILL: Hi Brad. It’s great to be back, thank you.

BRAD BROWN:  Rob what’s the secret to putting in a good run off 180k bike in an Ironman?

Don’t chase a sexy Ironman bike split

ROB HILL: Number One secret, it’s probably no secret but make sure that you don’t over bike. What’s the saying, bike for show one for dough, I think it is. So I always keep that in mind. Triathlon is a sport where the only result that matters is that finish line time. Don’t sacrifice that time for a sexy bike split. That’s the number one secret.

BRAD BROWN:  You made that mistake very early on in your Ironman career didn’t you?

ROB HILL: I did, my first Ironman for sure. And I’ve probably spent every Ironman since trying to undo that. But look, I think a big part of it too, for triathletes and Ironman triathletes in particular is you’ve got to have faith in your run. If you’ve got faith in your run you won’t have that temptation to push the bike too hard. Because you know when you get off the bike you can run strongly.

The Ironman run sorts the wheat from the chaff

The marathon is where all the results are determined. It’s where the wheat is sorted from the chaff, I think is the saying. In saying that, my philosophy in training, for Ironman you want to develop your aerobic fitness and capacity mainly on the bike. To an extent in the swim but I think the bike miles and getting that aerobic fitness. Developing your aerobic engine do it on the bike.

Running is just too high risk to be doing hours and hours of run training trying to develop your aerobic system primarily through running. And at the end of the day you’re not going to run that well if you haven’t done the bike miles in training either.

So I’m very much a high bike volume, fairly moderate run volume, and as much swim volume as you can fit in around the rest of your life commitments type of coach. That’s what I’m telling my athletes this year. That’s something that will work for most people, in my opinion.

Doing stand-alone marathons for Ironman run training

BRAD BROWN:  Rob I find that interesting, I was on a different school of thought when I first got into the sport. I wanted to know that I could do each of the distances on their own before I did an Ironman just to have my head in that sort of space. And I’ve carried that through.

I do still run quite a few stand-alone run marathons but you’ve never run a stand-alone marathon. The only marathons you’ve ever done are on the back end of an Ironman and I find that fascinating. Talk to me a little bit about the thinking behind that for you.

Injuries cut down Ironman run volume

ROB HILL: I had quite a few lower leg injuries when I started off running and then when I got into triathlon. When I got into Ironman the injuries changed, but they were persisting. There’d always be something; whether it was a bit of Achilles tendonitis which I tried to manage for about 8 years, or plantar fasciitis or shin splints. One thing after another.

My view was if I was to do a stand-alone marathon, I would have to do a fairly high weekly running mileage and I just hadn’t had the confidence that my legs would cope with that. And also, I was very much and still am, focused on how can I keep improving and reach my absolute potential at Ironman triathlon? That’s still my driving motivation.

Keep the focus on improving your Ironman run

Anything that’s going to get in the way of that I’m not really interested in. I’ve had friends that have said to me they know in my Ironman races, quite often I’m having the fastest run in my age group and maybe the 3rd or 4th fastest bike. But only because I think I’m biking smart. I’m not laying it all out there. I want to save a bit in my legs to be able to run well and I think that’s pretty much what’s important.

BRAD BROWN:  Yes absolutely. As far as run workouts go, what do you love doing? What’s your favourite?

ROB HILL: I love a good, hard track session. Some hard intervals around the track where you really get that consistent surface to run on. You really start focusing on your technique to be able to squeeze a bit of extra pace out of your running.

Get the buzz from a fast Ironman run

And I think for Ironman training doing some very fast 1k intervals on the track. With maybe a 4 or 5 hundred metre easy jog recovery between each of them. Just bringing those 1k times down. Each one descending. Maybe I would do 4 or 5 of those 1k intervals and just try to get faster each time. Getting well under the Ironman pace, well under half Ironman pace. Just lay it all out there.

There’s nothing better than the buzz you get with endorphins and whatever else the brain releases when you’re running fast. That session will do it for you. And I’m sure that even though the paces and that is so different to what you’ve been doing at Ironman, it’s just teaching your legs efficiency in their function that can still translate to efficiency over the 42k’s off the bike.

Trail runs is a great tool to improve your Ironman run

Another favourite run session of mine is probably the exact opposite and that’s just a nice little run on the trails. It’s so good for you and running. Where every footfall you’re landing on a different bit of ground and every foot strike is different. And as far as avoiding overuse injuries from running, I think trail running is such a great tool to use.

BRAD BROWN:  Too true. Rob as always great to catch up. Thanks for your time today on The Kona Edge, much appreciated.

ROB HILL: Thank you Brad, it’s great to talk again.

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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