Your first triathlon run can be challenging!
It’s the simplest discipline to train for and definitely the cheapest, all you need are a pair of trainers and you are good to go! No wetsuit, no bike or fancy pedal/shoe combination, just your gym gear.
It’s basically a faster version of something you do all day every day, so why is it so tough?
Well for a start you are a couple of hours into a serious endurance so you’re tired, dehydrated and hungry. Secondly, the previous events are almost designed to put your running muscles to sleep so you need to switch them back on and start pumping blood back to them which spikes your heart rate.
Pacing can also be a problem after the higher cadence of the bike leg which will tire you out fast so you need to get it back under control. Pacing is essential. Energy usage is not proportional to speed, so if you go out 10% faster you’ll be burning your remaining energy 15-20% faster.
Of all the events, it is the easiest, cheapest and quickest to train for and you can fit it around your daily schedule as long as you are organised, aware of what you need to do and properly prepared.
The only real kit that you will add will be your trainers as you’ll be in you tri suit from the previous events, but what do you need to consider when picking the right shoes?
Running shoes, trainers, sneakers, whatever you call them the range is enormous and never-ending!
In reality, as with all kit, the basic pair of shoes will do you fine as long as they are comfortable and relatively light, but if you are looking for a new set and want to make sure that they will improve your running, there are a few things you should look for.
No matter how high tech the design and construction of the shoes are, if they are not comfortable, you won’t wear them and won’t train, defeating the purpose of the shoes in the first place. Obviously, the fit is important, both lengthwise and width fitting. Any shoes that move around when you are running will increase the risk of chafing and injury, so should be avoided. Narrow shoes increase the risk of Metatarsalgia, which is compression of the nerves around the metatarsals.
As well as size, make sure there are no seams inside that could rub against the foot and that the lacing pattern spreads the pressure across the top of the foot evenly and to the right height on the foot.
Getting the right tension on the laces is important too, and you may want to consider elastic laces, which not only let y fix the right tension but make it much easier to get your shoes on during the race.
If you have high arches, then you know how much it hurts if you don’t have the right support, and that just gets worse when running, and you increase the risk of ankle and plantar Fascia injuries, which can also put Strain on your Achilles and calf.
This is aimed more at the heavier, less conditioned runner, who has not perfected the form and muscle tone required to take the shock of repeated footstrikes, which will lead to knee and shin problems later. Heavily cushioned soles have traditionally been designed with the cushioning more at the back, taking the weight off when standing, but modern running techniques favour a stride where the foot strikes in the midfoot and many running shoes are now designed with cushioning that supports this mechanic.
The lighter the shoe, the less work you need to do to move them, helping you maintain your energy throughout a longer race. It may not seem like much, but it can make all the difference in a longe race. Obviously lighter weight means less material, so don’t expect a lot of cushioning and support.
Varus is a relatively new aspect of shoe mechanics for the mainstream running shoe, but it can make a big difference to your comfort and injury prevention, especially around the ankles and lower leg. Varus measures the angle that the sole of the foot makes relative to the leg, and therefore the amount of roll the foot will experience when it hits the ground ( supination and pronation.)
The foot naturally rolls from the inside outward from the foot strike to lift off, but if the structure of the foot leads to excessive movement in one or more direction, this puts a lot of strain on the muscles of the ankle and lower leg, which can lead to fatigue and injury.
A good running shop will be able to perform a gait analysis, where you run on a treadmill and the natural movement is captured for analysis, and the relevant shoe type suggested. be advised though, there is a school of thought that suggests that by running with normal, neutral shoes you can train this natural behaviour out, so make sure whoever is advising you know what they are talking about.
This is where your own personal circumstances take over. There is no doubt that you can run the triathlon in a 10-year-old pair of Nikes quite happily, but there will be advantages in weight, support, materials and performance as you move up the price point. A good pair of Brooks or Asics shoes will set you back around €160, but if you are going to be spending a lot of time in them, your feet and legs will probably thank you for it.
Understanding your pacing is vitally important across all disciplines, none more so that in the run, and both your race strategy and training plan will require you to know your pace for a range of efforts.
Getting a suitable training plan for the distance you are doing ensures that you have the best mix of speed and endurance relevant to your specific needs. Find out more here
The Brick and how to avoid it
There are few aspects of triathlon that inspire fear in new triathletes than the Brick, but it can be trained for and the effects reduced. Find out more hereNext - Race day