11 days: Bike to Run? ICK! That’s a brick!

I have a plan to raise $10,000 for some awesome organizations by Sept. 22, 2013 – the day I run in Ironman Lake Tahoe. Thanks to you, we’ve reached that goal – currently at $10,007! You can help us surpass the goal by chipping in a few bucks to one of our deserving charities here! Plus, there is one last little fundraising push left between now and race day… stay tuned!

Bike to Run ? ICK! That’s a brick!

There are two parts of triathlon that strike fear in the hearts of many:

  1. First and foremost, the swim. It is the most dreaded and truly feared part of the race. You get kicked, punched, bumped into, swam over. You panic. You can’t regain your breath. At least once during every race I contemplate bailing from the competition during the swim in a moment of panic (I don’t succumb – you can’t. You must push through the panic).
  2. Running after the long ride on your bike. Your legs are heavy, already tired from biking, and you’re asking them to do something new and different. And to not give out on you.

My fear of the swim has evolved over time. I used to absolutely fear it… as in ‘sharks in the water’ panic-driven fear. Now it is a healthy respect, with a solid twinge of ‘but can I do this fast enough?’

The fear of the bike-to-run transition has also evolved. During my early races I had issues with the run – it hurt and I felt like I was going so incredibly slow. I couldn’t get my legs to turn over and speed up, and they fell victim to fatigue rather quickly. I never felt like I really hit my stride during a triathlon run.

One training technique to get your body used to this bike-to-run sensation is called a brick. You go for a long or hard bike, then immediately follow it up with a run. Some say that the name ‘brick’ actually came from your reaction to it all: “bike to run? ICK!’

Tonight I had a good workout set. 1/2 mile in the pool (one of my fastest swims so far since the shoulder got a bit messed up in the accident a couple of weekends ago). Later I did a 20 mile tempo ride, immediately followed by a 2-mile run. Yep. A brick workout.

Tonight was the last of my bike speed workouts, a 60-minute tempo ride (start moderate, build up to really fast, then gradually reduce back to a moderate intensity) so I went pretty hard along the wind-swept beach and averaged 21mph. Not bad considering the headwind and myriad of stops thanks to traffic lights. I then embarked on my run… and it felt AWESOME! I knocked out the 2 miles at a 6:05/mile pace, and I honestly wasn’t even pushing the pace all that hard.

So, what happened between where I’m at now with the bike-to-run adjustment and a few years back? A few things are different:

  • Frankly, I’m in really good shape right now. So that helps. But… I was in pretty good shape back then, too. That can’t account for that big a difference.
  • I used to be a heel striker when I ran – this style uses longer strides, a lower cadence (we call it turnover when running), and taxes your leg muscles that you’ve used on the bike. I am now a midfoot striker – this style uses shorter strides, a higher turnover, and utilizes different muscles than I use on the bike.
  • I’ve also made a similar change in my cycling style. I used to be a power rider – push higher gears at a lower cadence. I now tend to prefer a cadence in the 100 to 120 rpm range. This higher cadence taxes my legs less and requires me to use less power (it is immediately apparent now that I train with a power meter on my bike).
  • Now, when I come off the bike, the higher cadence that I’ve been pedaling at translates very easily into the high turnover rate on the run. In fact, the pedaling cadence is slightly higher than my running turnover rate, so I need to be cautious so I’m not running too fast after jumping off the bike. Yeah. Pretty cool, huh?

Instead of the bike-to-run transition being a liability… it is now an asset.

The mind is in a good place right now. 11 days to go. Pair my training session today with yesterday’s (7 miles at 6:08/mile pace) and I’m feeling ready for this. The panic attack from Tuesday morning (when the official pre-race communication e-mail for Ironman Lake Tahoe was distributed) has subsided… and I’m so ready to get this done.

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