On this episode of The Kona Edge we chat to Liza Rachetta. Liza reveals her strategy on how to remain injury free in the build up to a race like the Ironman World Championships in Kona.


BRAD BROWN:  This is The Kona Edge, I’m Brad Brown and we’re going to chat some running today, a returning guest once again, Liza Rachetta, welcome onto the podcast once again. Liza, nice to touch base.

You’ve mentioned cycling is the strongest of the three disciplines, and in an earlier chat you said to me running was probably your weakest, running in an Ironman, particularly coming from a strong cycling background, you must dread getting off that bike because you can spend days on a bicycle and survive. But to run a marathon after a 180km time trial must be pretty tough for you.

LIZA RACHETTA:  Yeah, the bike being one of my favorite parts of the race, getting off to run really takes a lot of important mental training to get excited and fired up about doing a whole marathon. I have to say, the run training I’ve actually ended up beginning to embrace, even though it’s probably the most difficult on my joints and my body. It takes me much longer to recover and I have friends that tell me the mileage or the volume that they do, and I’m lucky if I can do half. My long runs tend to not be anything over 17-18 miles and maybe just one or two of those.

Not only is it ending up being my weakest of the three, but I have to be really careful with my training, which in hindsight ends up making me much smarter.

One of the best things that I’ve done this year is include getting video on my form, my cadence and working on some drills to sort of run and warm me up for my longer type runs.

How technical is your Ironman run really?

BRAD BROWN:  It’s interesting you say that because that was one of the things you mentioned with your swimming, is getting some video analysis and stroke correction and checking technique. Do you wish that you had almost done the same on the running front years ago?

LIZA RACHETTA:  Oh, definitely! It’s something I thought, I know how to run, you just put one foot in front of the other.  How can this be so technical? And when I actually learnt a little bit more in terms of specific form and posture and the thing that caught me the most when I was being analyzed was, if you can increase your cadence, this will be less painful and better on your joints. And of course with my arthritis I knew that if I could spend less time hitting the ground, the better.

BRAD BROWN:  Liza, looking at your running performance over the years, would you say that the video analysis has made the biggest impact on your running or is there something else that you’ve done that you’ve found has made a big difference?

LIZA RACHETTA:  I would say the video analysis and doing pre-run drills has helped. As well I’ve learnt, this has only been in the last few months, some different workouts that have a little bit more speed work involved with a longer or a mid-type run has helped as well, but it’s a slow process.

I believe that I still can get faster, but it’s just going to take more and more specific training.

BRAD BROWN:  We spoke about junk miles in our last chat on the bike, do you feel the same way about running, that you need to go out and make sure that every workout counts? You’re not running just for the sake of running?

Improve your weaknesses in your Ironman run going into Kona

LIZA RACHETTA:  Absolutely, even more critical with running. There is just no room for junk runs. And this also becomes difficult because oftentimes in training, when you’re getting off the bike to do a brick run, that brick run really has to be in good form. And if you’re falling apart and really struggling, it’s going to catch up, at least with me it catches up with me maybe in the form of an injury, or something that’s going to bother me later.

BRAD BROWN:  Let’s talk about some of your favorite workouts. You said you started incorporating some speed and higher cadence sessions. What are some of your favorite run workouts that you just love doing and you think benefit you hugely in your performance?

LIZA RACHETTA:  I would say the latest one that I’ve done lasts about an hour and a half and it’s a 5 minutes on, 5 minutes off. Going through that anywhere between 3 and 5 times and that said, I was actually forced to do, I didn’t have access to my bike and I just had access to a treadmill while I was away at a conference.

I was quite nervous leading into Ironman Cozumel that I was doing all these runs that were a little longer than I would normally do, but the speed and doing the work on the treadmill actually I think ended up benefitting me quite a bit.

BRAD BROWN:  Liza, looking at when you are racing, from a cycling perspective, do you do much running then as well? Or is it a case of we’re just focusing on cycling and we’ll worry about the other two disciplines, the swim and the run later on in the season?

LIZA RACHETTA:  Yeah, unfortunately I might try to do a few runs in the next couple of months, but they’re going to be very short and sweet in between my cycling. And my legs have already sort of developed and gotten bigger as I’ve been focusing on the bike for the last 6 weeks, so it’s tricky.

I just don’t find that, I find that my cycling is going to be sacrificed too much if I incorporate the running and I have, I’m building up my aerobic engine and to me, at this time, it’s more important and I’ll just slowly work back into my running when it gets to be summer in the US.

BRAD BROWN:  Do you find, particularly from the arthritis point of view, but also from an injury prevention point of view that it might be a bit of a blessing in disguise that you’re not running throughout the year, that it almost gives your body a bit of time to rest? That you’re still staying fit from a cardiovascular perspective and a cycling perspective, but you’re not pounding your body from a running perspective right throughout the year?

A different strategy can work in your Ironman training

LIZA RACHETTA:  Well, you just gave away one of my secrets. That’s exactly it. I honestly don’t think I can race and do as much running as most people can do. So having that time off, I actually kind of embrace it a bit. It’s fine with me.

BRAD BROWN:  Do you think other age groupers could benefit from that same strategy?

LIZA RACHETTA:  It’s possible, it really just depends on the athlete. A lot of people tend to like starting racing triathlons in March and all the way through October. So you’re going to have to obviously do some preparation for that long of a season. But I do actually encourage a few of my athletes who are into bike racing that go ahead and race your bike, and focus on that and they might only have one or two triathlons, I think it’s a great mix.

BRAD BROWN:  Brilliant. Liza, I look forward to chatting to you again about your nutrition strategy and some of the things you do from that point of view, but we’ll save that for our next chat and until then, take care.

LIZA RACHETTA:  All right, great, thank you Brad.

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