Increase Your Triathlon Speed

Posted in: Strength And Endurance  on Tuesday, August 19, 2008
MaxTreme Endurance
I often see athletes that came from a running background that can’t run as fast in a tri race. I always hear the same thing: "I used to be a 33 minute, 10k runner in college and now I can only run a 42 minutes in a triathlon, what’s wrong?"

To run fast in a triathlon actually begins on the bike. The limiting factor for anyone struggling to run off the bike is usually the amount of energy spent while on the bike. Runners who lack a background in riding are inefficient on the bike, consuming valuable energy that could be otherwise used on the run. So, if you want to improve your run, don’t focus only on running farther or faster, but also look at your riding efficiency.

Increase Efficiency
Here are some tips on pedaling efficiency to increase your ability to run faster off the bike and ride faster too.

1. A good pedaling technique implies that the athlete is even during the entire pedal stroke, not only pushing the pedal down (called "masher") but unweighting the leg when in upward stroke. It seems to be complicated to understand, but if you put your bike on a bike trainer and practice the drill called "single leg" where you pedal with one leg at a time, you can easily see your deficiency on the pedal stroke and specially in leg strength discrepancy.

2. Some athletes say that what’s important is how much power you can push when you ride. Biomechanical efficiency is the element people miss when they say that "Power is power, no matter how it is produced." An inefficient cyclist needs to produce more power to stay with the leading cyclists in a race. The inefficient rider is fighting his own forward progress from within his pedal stroke. In the final 10km run, he does not have the energy to stay with the leaders, whose superior efficiency allowed them to go the same speed with a lower sustained power output, thus saving their legs for the run. The way to improve mechanical efficiency is to learn to apply force through as much of the pedal stroke as possible, especially through the top and bottom. Over geared, high-power, low-cadence workouts are essential. Climbing hills, seated, in a big gear forces a cyclist to keep force flowing to the pedals over the top and through the bottom of the stroke. It is the only way he/she can maintain enough momentum to keep the bike moving forward.

So, if you want to run faster, make sure you get on your bike first.