.......and yes, I LOVE to hear myself talk (or read myself write!). Give me a break, I've ben locked in a "secure" environment for a month with no access to the internet most of the day.
THE ANSWER: Run slower. Run more often. Run more.
If you are rolling your eyes right now it's either because A) you get it and know you get it (and don't need to hear it yet again) or B) you don't get it and don't know you don't get it (and don't want th hear it agin)......; ^ ) However I've read a few responses on the board this year and got a few PMs from people who have had great success by adopting this training regime for their running. I'll lead off with a disclaimer and say that this may not be the answer that YOU are looking for (especially if you already are a strong runner), but it has helped a lot of struggling runners.
It seems to me that most triathletes don't come from a running background. Most runners who excell at running tend to stick with running as their are pleanty of opportunities to contiue to compete while maintaining a normal lifestyle. So it seems like a lot of folks either come to triathlon from a swimmers/cyclists background or just jumped in with both feet from no background. So, the introduction of running comes not as a single program that one can dedicate 100% of their time to, but as part of a larger program (triathlon) where the time must be shared.
That's the first issue. The second issue is coming into running with a familiarity of swimming/cycling. Physiologically the endurance sports are very similar, but I believe there is one major difference. Most people (*most*) can't get away with pounding through workouts the way they may have become accustomed to while swimming or cycling.
I've been learning this from the other side of the equation. After barely getting into shape on the bike, I jumped into my first ever "A group" ride last night. After a short warmup we started pace lining, then climbed a HUGE hill, then chased a break, recovered, and chase a break again. I hammered for well over an hour while logging in 2 1/2 hours of riding. It felt great!!
As I headed home I remember thinking, "There's no way in hell an out of shape person should ever jump into a *running* workout of that magnitude." Running just simply isn't as forgiving as swimming or cycling. If you are unprepared, pounding through hard, fast paced workouts will BEAT YOU UP. They *can* be done, but only after the proper foundations have been laid.....and that takes months (even years!).
Running is primarily about raising your body's ability to tolerate heavy stress. The easiest, most efficient way (arguably) is to run a lot!.....or in the case of the struggling runner, RUN MORE. The more you run, the more time your body is stimulated to improve its "endurance" and the more time your body builds a resistance to stress.
The easist way to run more is to A) SLOW DOWN and B) RUN MORE OFTEN. You don't slow down for the sake of slowing down or run more often for the sake of running more often. You do it so that you can run more. If you struggle with running and typically get 2 runs of 45min-1:30 at 85% of max heart rate (Gordo's Moderately Hard zone), instead try running 6 times at 65%-80% of max heart rate ("steady" or even "easy"). Each run can be as short as 15 minutes. Once you get used to 6 short easy runs a week, gradually build the distance of 2 or 3 of them. Start off running no more pre week than you currently do, and then add 15 minutes a week over the course of several months until you get to 3, 4, ....as much as 5 hours a week of running (admittedly this may not be a "well balanced program".....but if you struggle on the run, you may need to shift your training to be "run heavy").
For the Ney Sayers out there, correct, this is not the end all be all of run training. Intensity is needed to achieve peak fitness. Time limitations can become an issue. Many have succeeded on a "hard all the time approach." However this is targeted at the struggling runner who has never tried a high mileage, high freduency, low effort approach. 9 times out of 10 I find this to be a neccessary 1st step in building a foundation for one's career as a runner. I highly recommend giving it a try for a good 4 month block and see the results.
-----------------------------Baron Von Speedypants
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