Do you need to be running stand-alone marathons when training for an Ironman
Do you need to be running stand-alone marathons when training for an Ironman

Do you need to be running stand-alone marathons when training for an Ironman?

Do you need to be running stand-alone marathons when training for an Ironman

We chat to Amy Farrell about her Ironman run strategy today on The Kona Edge. She shares with us the reason how stand-alone marathons prepare you for your Ironman run.

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BRAD BROWN:  Amy onto your Ironman run now. You are an absolute machine when it comes to the run. You were chatting in our first chat that you dipped under 3 at Boston. It really helps coming from a strong running background in this sport. Do you feel that it gives you a big advantage over your competitors?

Staying steady and reliable on your Ironman run

AMY FARRELL: I think so; I have a little bit more confidence if I’m down coming off the bike. I’ve only really had my run fall apart once and that was Kona 2015 but otherwise I’m usually pretty steady there and reliable.

When I did Cerique 70.3 this year I came off the bike with quite a deficit but knew what kind of running shape I was in and didn’t worry too much about it and was able to hammer through the run.

BRAD BROWN:  Often we learn the most from when things don’t go according to plan; tell me about that run in 2015 when the wheels proverbially came off. What was the issue and what did you learn from it?

Problem solving your Ironman run to the finish line

AMY FARRELL: I didn’t feel great that day. My stomach was really off so my nutrition was probably off and like I said before you have to stay on a plan or the wheels are really going to come off.

The thing that really got me through that race was changing my mind that I didn’t want to be out there walking for 6 hours. I wanted to get back so I was putting in whatever I could in terms of nutrition and kind of problem solving along the way to get to the finish line.

BRAD BROWN:  Tell me about those dark patches. We obviously all go through them as runners. Obviously, you’re a better runner physically, but mentally you’re probably stronger than most as well. We all go through those patches and it’s how you get yourself out of those patches that determine whether you have a good run or not, we all go through them.

What are some of the strategies and techniques you use to dig yourself out of those dark places and big holes?

AMY FARRELL: I think just thinking about some of the run workouts that I have been able to complete. When the school year starts and I’m gearing up for Kona, there’s usually a day of the week where I do a medium, like a 55 to 60 mile ride in the morning before work.

Running on tired legs after a long day will pull you through at Kona

Then I go teach for the whole day and then my long runs are usually Wednesday afternoon after I’ve cycled and been on my feet teaching all day.

There’s always the quality component in those long runs so it’s not just going out running 30 miles. There are very specific paces that have to be hit and if I can survive those days, then I can usually make it through a crater on race day.

BRAD BROWN:  Amy one of the things I find interesting, obviously you run and you have run a good fair amount of stand-alone marathons. I chat to a lot of age groupers who, the only marathon they ever run is at the back end of an Ironman.

Do you think it’s important for triathletes, particularly if you want to get better and become a better runner, to run some stand-alone marathons and race them hard?

Is your Ironman marathon enough?

AMY FARRELL: It’s so different. An Ironman marathon and a stand-alone marathon are so different. A lot of an Ironman marathon is about survival. You’re out there for 9, 10, or 15 hours. You just have to fuel yourself properly to get through that.

Whereas stand-alone marathons is all out for 3 to 4 hours. So it’s a totally different kind of pain. I feel like triathletes could benefit from stand-alone marathons.

BRAD BROWN:  Do you think that you running stand-alone marathons have helped your Ironman performance.

AMY FARRELL: Yes. I do believe that.

BRAD BROWN:  As far as workouts go, what are some of your favourites? You obviously love running, what do you love doing? When it pops up on your program from your coach, what do you go Yay, I get to do that again, to?

Ironman run workouts that makes your dog think you’re crazy

AMY FARRELL: This year my long runs have involved a lot of a little faster than ran pace, mile repeats. And then a little faster than race pace half mile repeats. And they just make the long runs go by really quick. Once we hit about 12 half mile repeats, my dog looks at me like we’re crazy. But those have been really fun this year and they can make 3 hours go by pretty quick.

BRAD BROWN:  I’m sure. And gear wise, what do you run in, what shoes are you in?

AMY FARRELL: Since 2014 I had a bit of plantar fasciitis and switched to Hoka Clifton’s and haven’t really run in anything else since then. In terms of the arthritis in my knee I don’t want to mess around with anything else and the shoes work. I don’t have blister problems. My legs feel a little bit fresher so Hoka Clifton and Clayton are my go to.

Trusting your Ironman run gear

BRAD BROWN:  Over the years have you chopped and changed shoes? Or is it a case of if you find a shoe that you like you go with it until there’s a problem and then look for something else?

AMY FARRELL: People ask me what I ran in before I ran in Hoka’s and I can’t really remember. I think it was like whatever was on sale. I’ve run in a lot of different kind of shoes.

BRAD BROWN:  But now you’ve got the Hoka’s. That’s it. Found them and they’re done.


BRAD BROWN:  Brilliant. Well Amy thanks again for your time here on The Kona Edge. Much appreciated.

AMY FARRELL: 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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