I have been resting this week. It's been nice but also disconcerting. I rely heavily on training to make me feel a number of things: alive, justified in relaxing, like I am moving toward something of import. Without it I always feel sort of helpless--like I am letting something I've worked hard for go.
So, unsurprisingly, I was so excited to get up and ride this morning. It's been five days since Timberman, and I was ready to tear it up! I started early in the morning and felt awesome (and rested!).
Then a chipmunk ran out in front of me and I ran over him. Like RIGHT over him.
That may sound funny, but it really made me sad. I went back to check the spot--hoping maybe I hadn't killed him. But I did. I killed him. (or her.) The rest of my ride was sort of lackluster after that. I get to feeling good again, and then I would remember that I callously smushed wildlife and took a life.. When I got home and I told Andy he gave me a hug, and for some reason that made me cry. I know it's just a chipmunk. But I killed it.
Okay. Enough on that.
I got a number of comments on my last post about running off the bike, and that made me want to write about it.
It is really looked down upon to run poorly off the bike. Have you noticed that?
Triathletes--especially very experienced triathletes-- have disdain for it. I liken it to college seniors rolling their eyes at freshman who when partying barf at like 9 a.m. because they haven't yet learned proper partying pacing. It takes a season of heavy drinking to build up tolerance and to understand the subtle art of drinking enough to make one wasted enough to secure a hook up--but not to puke before--or especially during that hook-up. It doesn't matter if one pukes after the hook-up. Likewise--you don't want to fall apart on the bike or during the run (puking during the bike or run is especially unfortunate)--but if you fall apart or barf after the race is over, then that is fine. The analogy works quite well.
So aside from simply gaining experience, what things contribute to an athlete having a good run after a good bike? It is a combination of things for sure--and not always the same things.
Some people will have you believe it is straight forward. I don't believe it is. One belief is that if you go too hard on the bike--especially if you hit "superthreshold" heart rate or watts too many times for too long each time during the bike leg, your run will be in the crapper. However, I know people who race the bike incredibly hard from start to finish and they are still able to pull out a good run--even when the data says they should not have one.
That said, for MOST people that theory holds true. It is not smart to stand up on your pedals and hammer up a hill at peak wattage in the start of an Ironman, for example. It will certainly not HELP your run, and it very well may kill your run if you do it too many times.
There are a number of other things that can kill your run, though. Here is a short list:
- you didn't take in enough fuel on the bike
- you took in too much fuel on the bike
- you took in the wrong combiniation of fuel on the bike.
- you had only one type of sugar on the bike
- you didn't take in enough fuel etc on the run
- you cramped on the bike or you cramped on the run
- you held a pace/wattage that was way too high on the bike even if it felt "easy" at the time.
- you took the run out too hard
- your training volume on the bike was too low
- your training volume on the run was too low
- your training volume, in general, was too low
- you did too much work above the correct hr when training
- you did too much work too far below threshold during training
OR it could be as simple as:
- you suck at running
- you suck at biking and it took a lot out of you even though you didn't bike hard
- You had bad luck
I think it's important to list out reasons for a possible failure on the run because people are SO quick to make assumptions as to why a run sucked. The truth is there are so many variables, and any combination of them can cause trouble.
I think the thing people like to blame most is nutritional failures on the bike. I think the nutrition explanation is usually bunk. Most of the time people simply haven't done the training on the bike or the run or both to insure a good run--especially at the longer distance events. You can argue with me on that--but I'm pretty sure I am right.
Now the question--why was MY RUN 15 minutes slower than my 1/2 marathon PR at the half on Sunday?
Answer: My run volume and bike volume going into the event was not sufficient. Also, I have been running like shit for awhile now--probalby because of accumulated fatigue from IM training and racing.. Finally, that run course is hard, damn it!
It may be I am wrong about why I didn't run closer to the time I can do for an open 1/2 marathon. I don't know.
I'm open to your opinion, even though I will likely not listen to you.
Here is a picture from my run at Timberman. I think I am looking svelte... even if I am also clearly not running fast enough!