Today on The Kona Edge we catch up with Michael Harvey and talk to him about his Ironman run. He shares with us his love for the Ironman run and what he has done to get stronger. He also chats to us about running injuries and tells us how he avoids them.
BRAD BROWN: Welcome back to this edition of The Kona Edge, I’m Brad Brown, let’s talk some running now and we head back to Australia in Melbourne to be precise, Michael Harvey joining us now. Michael welcome, thanks for coming back.
MICHAEL HARVEY: Thanks Brad, it’s good to be back again.
BRAD BROWN: Let’s talk about your run, you’re a bit of a monster off the bike. Yes, your swim is your strong point, but we all know triathlon is a running sport and if you can run well, it’s half the battle won.
Loving your Ironman run makes it easier to get through
MICHAEL HARVEY: Definitely, there’s the old saying, ‘ride for show, run for dough’ so unless you’ve got the monster bike leg and even if you have, you still have to last 42km out the front, which can be a long way, as you know, a lot of things can go wrong.
BRAD BROWN: Yeah and when they do go wrong on the run, they can go wrong horribly, that’s the problem. Let’s talk about your run. It’s something you love doing and that makes it, again, that’s half the battle won. If you hate the run, even if you’re good at it, it’s tough, but if you love it, it’s pretty cool.
MICHAEL HARVEY: Definitely, it’s a trend you see, through bike and run, people, their attitude towards it or whatever it is, but my running, I enjoy it. Even though swimming, my background is around that, running I do enjoy the most, you can do it anywhere, you can go run hills you can run from home, you don’t have to travel to go anywhere. It can be quite a liberating thing to go and do and you can see pretty interesting places doing it as well, so training-wise, it mixes it up quite a bit to keep things interesting.
BRAD BROWN: You’ve been running for quite a while, there’s a photo on your website of you running as a youngster, as an 8 year old, it’s been a part of your life for a long long time, just as swimming has.
MICHAEL HARVEY: Exactly right, that’s the thing I found, I used to swim and I’d still go to the cross country once a year and lay it down and still put out a good time, but that would be it.
BRAD BROWN: I love it. Let’s talk about, from a running perspective, some of the gains that you’ve been able to achieve and one thing that you’ve done that you think has given you the biggest gains over the years in your triathlon career.
Slow down your Ironman run to get faster
MICHAEL HARVEY: Running-wise, funny enough, as you pointed out, it’s one of my better legs, I learnt a lot more, just through the injuries and that’s the thing that a lot of people probably come across is the amount of injuries that occur from running and just obviously the nature of it being a lot more weight bearing.
For me, definitely learning to slow down to go faster, a lot of people think, I have to run at this pace and generally speaking, if you’re trying to build yourself up, people have got that wrong idea, particularly when we’re talking about Ironman.
Definitely learning how to slow down, learning what an easy pace is for you, sometimes you have delusions of grandeur, like I did in my early days, my easy runs are at 4:30 pace, but how many people run 4:30 in an Ironman. Unless you’re planning on running a 2:38 or something like that, it’s probably not going to be that easy for you, it might feel that way. That’s probably been the biggest learning curve, doing that but also again, learning just that you need to be consistent and do the K’s.
BRAD BROWN: Particularly around the injuries. You talk about consistency, if you’re breaking down with injury all the time, it’s so difficult to stay consistent but if you are, like you say, almost slowing down to speed up, that does also aid with the consistency.
MICHAEL HARVEY: Absolutely and I even look at the learning I had from my first Kona or first qualifier to Kona and I kept on getting to this point of, I’d get to about 75-80km a week and then that would be the breaking point. The niggles would start to come and a lot of stuff around the feet and lower legs and I couldn’t figure it out.
Be disciplined and patient in your Ironman run
Went back the next time around and all right, let’s just remove all the ego, cut it all out and just really slow everything down and instead of running 75-80km a week, I started running 100-110km a week and that was just from running slower. Because I was running slower, I was building a bigger engine and the running just flowed on from there.
It sounds counter-intuitive and people don’t like it from an ego point, they don’t want to be running slower, but it’s actually training your body to be more efficient and using the fat and the oxygen and everything it needs in an Ironman.
BRAD BROWN: It’s interesting you say that because let’s be honest, speed is not the limiting factor to running a fast Ironman marathon. We can all run faster than our best Ironman times are, but it’s stringing it together for a prolonged period of time and that doesn’t come from doing tons and tons of speed work necessarily.
MICHAEL HARVEY: That’s exactly right and if you look at it and if you raced it properly, in terms of relative to yourself, there’s nothing fast about an Ironman. It should be within yourself and I think that’s also a component there, if you’re talking about people going, looking to qualify, there’s that part where you need to learn to be disciplined and to be patient and to go all right, I’m hurting, but I need to be able to maintain my posture and keep things turning over and keep your head about you as well.
BRAD BROWN: Excellent stuff. Michael, thank you so much for your time once again here on The Kona Edge, much appreciated, look forward to catching up again soon when we chat some nutrition.
MICHAEL HARVEY: Been great thanks for that Brad.