You’ve mastered the swim. You’re a pro at the bike. Now it’s time to tackle the final leg of the triathlon: the run.
For longtime runners-turned-triathletes, the run portion is the victory lap, the one to look forward to, the “fun one.” But if you weren’t a runner before, you’re one now. And the only way to make it to the finish chute is to run there. The run portion of a tri is tricky: It’s the last one, so your body is no doubt fatigued, and it’s all you. There’s no current to move you along, no wetsuit to keep you buoyant, no shifting into an easier gear to help you up those climbs. It’s one foot in front of the other from the minute you bust out of transition.
So how do you keep moving forward? Polar athlete and professional triathlete Angela Naeth credits the run as her favorite leg of the race. “It’s the one area where there’s less equipment and you can literally do it anywhere,” she says. “There’s so much ability to explore on the run, and that’s so intriguing to me.” Here’s how Naeth – the 2015 North American IRONMAN Champion, multiple-time sub-9-hour IRONMAN finisher, and 12-time IRONMAN 70.3 Champion – nails the run.
She swears by her go-to gear – and a shot of energy.
“The first thing I do before I start running is slap on my Polar M430,” she says. “Then all I need is a solid pair of shoes, my visor, and a can of Red Bull.”
She doesn’t max out her mileage.
“I’m a low-mileage gal,” she says. “I typically run four to five days a week. As a triathlete, you don’t need a lot of mileage. I’ve been known to hover around 20 to 35 miles per week.”
She’s all about variety on the run.
“I run everywhere,” Naeth says. “My favorite is running on groomed trails. Running for me is very aerobic, so I just go by my heart rate most of the time and stay in my aerobic zones. I start out very slowly and build up to my goal pace and heart rate.” As she gets closer to her goal race, Naeth will add speedwork on the roads or a track to her routine, but until then, she’s all about the slow and steady progress.
Angela Naeth’s top 5 tips for the run portion of a triathlon:
- Include brick workouts in your training plan. “Once or twice a week, I run off the bike,” she says. “One is a bit longer of a run, like 45 minutes or so, and the other is just 20 to 25 minutes easy.”
- Mix up your mileage. “Build up to your long run slowly each week, then give yourself a decrease in mileage every three to four weeks,” she says.
- Keep your terrain varied.
- Utilize your heart-rate monitor. “All too often we find ourselves running well above our aerobic threshold, which only limits your potential in the season,” she says.
- Slow down. “Don’t be afraid to go slow,” Naeth says. “Build your chassis!”