Sure, you may be thinking swim, bike and run, but if you are anything like 85% of triathletes, running just isn't your bag. That and swimming seem to be the "necessities" of triathlon. Sure, you'd love to rocket past everyone on the run at 6 minute miles and take the win, but in reality, running gets little attention and sometimes is just outright mundane.
There's the theory that if you sign up for running races, it forces the triathlete to train more intentionally for the run. Personally, I'm a mix on the idea. I'm ok with running, but it does help my training to have goal runs in between to break up the "just training" mentality if running. If you are like me and sign up for a few marathons or halfs, then read on for some tips and ideas on what to look for when venturing into the quest for a long distance running race.
6) Health. Above all else, make sure you are healthy before you junk into training. Take it slow and easy if you have been somewhat sedentary before and looking to lose weight from training. It's great to get off the couch, but get checked out for any hidden health problems you might have. Some issues won't show themselves until you are into your training and stressing your body out. Also, if you have nagging existing physical injuries, make sure your body can take the additional activity.
5) Plans. There are probably hundreds of plans out there. Pick one best suited for your lifestyle and fitness level. Some plans have less miles with more intense training sessions. Some have lots of miles if you have more time to dedicate. Some plans may peak out with a 22 mile run while some may have you do back-to-back 16 miles runs on weekends to avoid the added strain of running over 20 miles in one run. Do some research and find a plan that works for you and your lifestyle.
4) Will it work. Training takes time and dedication. Do you have enough spare time in your life to carve out for 10 to 15 hours a week of running? Don't forget that this will also wear you out and perhaps less productive with the other hours of the day.
3) Get real. Have realistic expectations. Don't expect a sub 4 hour marathon on your first try unless you have been running for a decent length of time. Go out with what you thin, you can really do. Create a plan based on an accomplishable pace for you. The last thing you want is trying to get past the wall at 20 miles pushing a pace you cannot maintain. You want to finish, not cramp up or drop out.
2) Get fans. Get your friends and family on your team. If they aren't behind you and your venture, the time and effort you will devote into training may create a rift. It's hard enough to train, you don't want to add in fights with those closest to you over your goal.
1) Power in numbers. Find a running group to keep you on track. Many have pre-made plans and for a modest fee, will help you plan and provide supported long runs on the weekends. It's an added motivator when you know you have a group to either run with or share the suffering of training with. In Kansas City we have The Runners Edge, Kansas City Track Club and Mid-America Running Association. They are good places to start.
Full and half marathons are no joke. Sure, it seems like everyone and their dog is doing a 13.1 or a 26.2 these days, but treat the distances with respect. If it's on your bucket list, do it right.
Ryan Falkenrath writes the blog falkeetriathlon.blogspot.com, married father of two young kids, owner of two dogs and trying to balance life, work and multisport. Ryan has participated in multisport events since 2001 from 5k's to Half Ironmans. Ryan is also the Kansas City Endurance Sports Examiner and you can read more of his triathlon thoughts HERE and he collects race reviews at www.Triathlon-Reviews.blogspot.com. Contact Ryan at: firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on @TriJayhawkRyan.