The run-training portion of preparing for your first Ironman should be approached with caution.
This is one area where you stand a good chance of being injured if you try and do too much too soon. If you are an accomplished runner with a few marathons under your belt, than most of this page isn’t meant for you. I’m more concerned with those of you who don’t really have a running background but still want your shot at the Ironman.
You will have to travel 26.2 miles on foot. Notice I said “travel” and not “run.”
I imagine the list of first timers who have run the entire Ironman marathon distance from start to finish is very small.
Your goal should be to run more than you walk.
In my background I have run about 33 marathons, over 100 10-km races, 2 50-mile races, and have been in 14 Ironman Triathlons. I don’t count the Ironman marathons in the 33 total because there is a world of difference between the two.
My fastest ever “marathon” is 2:54. My fastest ever Ironman marathon is 3:34. To do that I had to run “without stopping once” from the bike transition to the Ironman finish line.
I’m telling you this for a reason.
It took me 15 years to get to that “without stopping once” stage.
So don’t think you have to go out and run 100 miles a week to get ready for the Ironman. Don’t even think you have to do a 20 mile run. It really isn’t necessary.
Think in terms of “time on your feet” and not distance travelled.
I really wish I could convince every Ironman hopeful to train with a heart monitor. Just by its very nature, a heart monitor will not let you run too fast too soon.(see heart monitor training page on my website). It will help you stay injury-free. It will make your run-training more enjoyable and you will not get discouraged–especially when you can actually see your improvement as the months pass.
Reminder: When you use a heart monitor and train at or just below your pre-determined target, set a maximum of 90 minutes for those workouts. The “most” I ever did was 2 hours. What happens is—-once you start getting into really good running shape—-you start running quite a bit faster. So 90 minutes at a quick pace is enough.(Actually its 60 minutes). The work-out would be 15 minutes very slow to warm-up. 60 minutes at or just below your target heart rate. Then a 15 minute very slow cool-down.
If you do longer runs, make them well below your target (20-25 beats)for the entire run. It will tend to creep up, but control it as best you can.
Sometime before your Ironman race, when you have trained yourself into really good running shape, try an extended outing. Make sure its a good 8 weeks or so before the big day. Try and convince someone to come along with you on their mountain bike. That way they can carry extra water for you.
Say you plan it for a Sunday. Make Saturday your rest day and plan for just the run on Sunday. Make it 3 and half to 4 hours. Most first-time Ironmen are on the marathon course somewhere between 4 and a half and 7 hours. What you want to do is try and do your long training run just like you will most likely do your Ironman run.
In other words, don’t bother trying to run the whole thing. Run without stopping for the first 90 minutes. This will start to make you a bit tired. Walk for two minutes and from there run 10-12 minutes and then walk 2 minutes until your 3 and half to 4 hour run workout is finished. If you could work 2 or 3 of these sessions into your training program that would be great, but do at least one for sure before the big day.
What you have done is emulate what it will be like to run between the aid stations. Plan to “walk through” the aid stations taking whatever nourishment you need. If you plan and train for this, then you won’t be disappointed if you go out expecting to blast your way through the entire marathon course. It just won’t happen.
By having a plan, you will have a ball-park time of how long it will take you to cover 26 miles. This is really important because you have to BE AWARE OF THE TIME REMAINING! before the race cut-off. Don’t leave too much to do for the last 5 miles.
You want to be like a glass of water that empties drop by drop with the last drop falling out at the finish line. You don’t want the glass three quarters empty at the 5 mile mark. If you let that happen, you will be in for a very long day.
Go into the race with a tried and tested plan and you will have more confidence going in and a much greater chance of success.
Source: Ray Fauteux