On this edition of The Kona Edge we catch up with Aku Oja and chat about his Ironman run. We find out why he loves training on the treadmill. Aku also reveals why he believes a strong core helps your Ironman run and he shares his Ironman run weaknesses with us and tells what he has done to improve this.
BRAD BROWN: Welcome onto yet another edition of The Kona Edge, time to talk some running today and we head back to Finland, Aku Oja joining us. Aku, you mentioned in our first chat that you were a marathon runner and that’s how you essentially transitioned into triathlon, would you say your run is the strongest of your three disciplines?
AKU OJA: Yeah, being a marathon runner, I did that one marathon that had been in my mind for years to do and then transferred into triathlon right after that. But being the strongest, I kind of think about that often and more often than not I can’t really decide between bike and run because yeah, looking at the races, on the bike I catch up a lot of people. Getting onto the run, I again, catch up people, but obviously there isn’t that much more to catch after the bike, if you do it well, but still able to get some heads and good run times. It’s really hard to say. It changes from time to time, which I feel myself is the strongest, sometimes bike, sometimes run.
Race pace on the treadmill will improve your Ironman run
BRAD BROWN: You also do a lot, as you do on the bike, you do a lot of your run training indoors on a treadmill, what’s your favourite treadmill work out?
AKU OJA: My favourite one on the treadmill, it has to be this race specific pace where we play with different inclines. Where I hold my race pace and then do a certain incline at a certain time and run those again and again and again. It really pushes me hard and I need to focus on the form and keep the legs going.
BRAD BROWN: It sounds pretty tough as well, they don’t sound like easy workouts.
AKU OJA: Yeah, when we started those I failed more often than succeeded, but yeah, building up with those, I started to manage those workouts also. So yeah, it is tough, it certainly ain’t easy and fun in that way.
BRAD BROWN: But you love them, that’s why you enjoy them don’t you?
AKU OJA: Yeah, it gives a nice benefit and pushes you to hold the run together.
BRAD BROWN: Aku, as far as improving your run and getting better, what would you say are some of the things that you’ve done over your triathlon career that’s given you big benefits?
Strengthen your core to strengthen your Ironman run
AKU OJA: Conditioning work, the core and forefeet, to prevent too much niggles coming up. My calves are pretty easy, like get tense and that used to limit my run training pretty seriously when I started building up the volume and intensity, then my calves just shut down completely, it was like I could barely walk, but then, yeah, after we started doing a fair amount of different conditioning work for core and feet and legs, I was able to put out a lot more quality run training.
BRAD BROWN: How many strength and conditioning sessions would you typically do in a week Aku?
AKU OJA: From 2-3, yeah, some body weight core training, or lifting weights at the gym or it could be biometrics, there’s been a lot of work, but yeah, roughly from 2-3 conditioning workouts per week.
BRAD BROWN: And finally, how many pairs of running shoes do you think you’ve gone through in your life?
AKU OJA: I don’t really know how much I’ve gone through in my life. I usually go through two or three pairs in a season, but currently I have maybe like four or five pairs of running shoes for this year.
BRAD BROWN: What are you running in?
AKU OJA: Lately I’ve been using Saucony shoes, I also really love those Pearlizumi ones, those are probably the ones I’ve been using most lately.
BRAD BROWN: Fantastic. Aku Oja, thank you very much for your time once again here on The Kona Edge, much appreciated. We look forward to catching up again soon.
AKU OJA: Yeah, thank you again, bye.