Run 101: A Guide

Running for triathlons is different, and so is training for it. Not only does it follow a long swim and bike ride, but there’s a psychological element that can’t be denied.

CHECK YOUR FORM

Pay attention to your posture, alignment, stance, gait, and cadence. Good habits create good form, which helps avoid injury.

WEAR PROPER SHOES

Proper running shoes for your feet improve your gait and speed, reduce joint stress, minimize pain, and prevent injury.

RUN SAFELY

Plan your runs in advance and always be prepared - check out our quick safety guide below for more details.

PACE YOURSELF

The third leg in Triathlon requires as much stamina as the swim and the bike portions. Develop a rhythm in order to finish.

STARTING A RUNNING PROGRAM: TOP QUESTIONS

Here’s a quick rundown of the items you will need.

Running shoes - a good pair designated just for running. LATC recommends that you prevent injury by purchasing shoes after a gait analysis.

Thin running socks - Avoid cotton. There are many brands with synthetic materials that will wick away moisture and reduce blistering

Athletic Shorts & T-Shirt –Technical fabrics are preferable to cotton

Jogging Bra (if applicable)

Gait Analysis is a method of assessing how you walk or run to identify any biomechanical abnormalities that may affect how you run. Being able to move efficiently is important to avoid injuries.

When you have your gait analyzed you will run on a treadmill and the analyst will identify any considerations they observe. Sometimes, you can even see some areas in your shoes that are more worn than others.

Based on the gait analysis, the analyst can then recommend shoes to help prevent future injuries. If you aren’t able to see a a qualified physical therapist or exercise physiotherapist, check your local running store or podiatrist/orthopedist to see if they offer gait analysis for running shoes.

At minimum, you should always carry your ID, cell phone, a snack for longer runs, and plenty of water.

It’s a good idea to wear a hat and sunscreen on sunny days. Depending on the length of your run, you can also consider wearing a water belt, money/ID holder if your pockets aren’t secure.

Do an easy warm-up run for a minimum of 10 minutes prior to stretching to warm up, as stretching cold muscles can lead to injury. Then you’re good to go and finish your run. Always stretch after your run.

Open your mind to the concept of the run/walk workout.

When you “head out for a run” that could be as easy as 1min of running followed by 1min of walking and done 10 times through for a 20min “run”. That could be written as: 20min run – 10x(1min run x 1 min walk). It shouldn’t be stressful and can be a great starting point for someone who has never run or hasn’t run in years.

After 3 or 4 of those in a week the next week could be: 30min run – 10x(2min run x 1min walk). If you slowly progress that type of structure you could arrive at a place 8 weeks down the road where you are running for 8min with only a 1min walk and covering a lot of ground.

There’s another blessing that the run/walk concept will deliver: you can improve your running form using this method.

During the running segments you can choose an element of technique that you need to improve and give that full concentration and perfect execution. Then you walk to recovery and deliver on another short segment of not just running but better running. Repeat this mindful practice for every run and not only will you get faster from fitness but faster from better technique. You’ll become more efficient in your movement, and runners with better form are less likely to be injured.

Now, about that technique…..where might you choose to set your focus?

Posture: running well requires a tall, proud posture. Not erect and stiff but upright and looking at the horizon rather than a hunched or rolled position where energy is driven down into the ground.

Lean: good running has a forward lean that emanates from the ankles (not the waist). The more you lean forward the faster you go. This can make running seem like nothing more than a controlled fall.

Arm Swing: The elbows should be bent at an 80 to 90 degree angle and the arm swing should come from the shoulder. This swing should be limited in its motion in two areas: 1) the arms should swing fore and aft sending energy in the direction you are running and not across your body and 2) the top of the swing will have your relaxed fist at shoulder height and at the bottom at hip-level.

Foot-Ground Contact: It doesn’t matter what part of your foot touches the ground first. It could be your forefoot, your mid-foot or your heel – it doesn’t matter. What matters is this: where does that foot-ground contact happen in relation to the hip. A common flaw is for an athlete to swing their leg way out front and just let it land hard, on the heel well ahead of the body’s mass (the hips). This causes breaking in the run speed, sends quite a shock up the joints, requires the foot to spend a lot of time on the ground and to tense up, and requires energy to reaccelerate. Far better that you position the foot to meet the ground just millimeters in front of the hip – in fact it might even feel like it’s landing directly under the hip. This will very likely cause your turnover to increase and the goal is 180 steps per minute. That’s a lot to count so aim for 30 every 10 seconds.

Fitness and Wellness: Top Questions

To improve your gait, stance, and form, there is no better advice we can give you than to reach out for assistance.

First, consult a professional. Get a running coach, and a running analysis from a qualified physical therapist or exercise physiotherapist.

Consider running with a group or a partner. Running with others can help you become a better runner. Find a track workout you can do on a weekly basis.

Don’t overdo it. Practice running. And, don’t forget to have fun!

Running Safety Tips:

Don’t wear headphones. It may seem tempting, but your ears can help you avoid dangers your eyes may miss, especially when running in the evening or early morning.

Carry identification, or at least write your name, phone number, and blood type, and medical information on the inside sole of your running shoe.

Carry your cell phone and know the locations of any public places along your regular route where you could access a phone if needed.

Run against traffic so you can see oncoming vehicles; it may help you to react more quickly if needed.

Make eye contact before crossing in front of vehicles. Be sure drivers acknowledge your right-of-way before you cross their path, and obey traffic signals.

Avoid areas that are unpopulated, deserted, overgrown, or unlit - especially at night. Stay clear of parked cars, large bushes, and similar obstacles.

Keep alert and aware of everything going on around you. If you’re feeling unsure of a person, situation, or area you’re approaching, trust your intuition and follow a trusted path.

Wear reflective material, especially if you must run before dawn or after dark. When it’s dark, avoid being on the street.

Safety in numbers: run with a partner, group, and/or with a dog.

Write down or let a friend or family member know which direction you’re running. Make sure your favorite running routes are known to those closest to you.

If you encounter verbal harassment along your route, ignore it, and do not harass others. Use discretion in acknowledging others around you. Look directly at them and be observant, but keep your distance and don’t stop.

When using multi-use trails, follow the rules posted. If you change direction, check over your should before crossing the trail to avoid colliding with a passing runner or cyclist.

Run in familiar areas and alter your route so that your pattern is unpredictable. If traveling, inquire about routes with a local running or triathlon club or store. Know where open shops and businesses are located in case of emergency.

Memorize license plates and note identifying characteristics of strangers along your path.

Get training in self-defense and carry a noisemaker.

CALL POLICE IMMEDIATELY if you notice anyone out of the ordinary or if something happens to you or someone else.

Basic Logic: Getting hurt is the worst thing that can happen to you and your training.

  • Every workout must begin with a low-intensity warm-up.
  • During the workout, if something hurts, STOP.
  • Every workout must conclude with a cool-down segment.

 

Build fitness slowly and invest a few minutes at the beginning of every workout with a complete warm up and end of every workout with a cool down and stretch to reduce the risk of injury.

The body can, and will, adapt to athletic efforts if they begin at an appropriate level and progress upward slowly. Rushing into hard efforts, long efforts, hills, sprints or any highly stressful activity will increase the risk of injury greatly. Start slowly and build slowly; maximize your aerobic fitness and minimize the risk of injury. This gradual progression will allow for joints to adapt, connective tissue to thicken and muscles to strengthen.

Basic Logic: Being well hydrated will only help your training, your racing and your recovery, while being dehydrated will do nothing but hinder you.

Don’t wait until you are thirsty to drink - keep it coming in at a steady rate. Find separate categories in your mind; one for water and one for sports drinks. These are two different, but important, things. In training, and on race day, you will need to consume both to satisfy your body’s needs for hydration.

Clean, cool water is the very best thing that a triathlete can drink. And you’ll need plenty before, during, and after workouts and races. A 150 pound adult can lose a half gallon of water a day just living, and a triathlete in training can lose up to two gallons.

Drink some water up to 20 minutes prior to swimming, and plenty after. Keep at least two water bottles on your bike, and drink 4-8oz every 15 minutes. During runs exceeding an hour, carry a bottle or know the water sources on your route.

Electrolyte replacement drinks such as Revenge, Gatorade, etc. help restore essential minerals like sodium, potassium and others. Some sports drinks contain too much sugar, and this can draw water away from the working muscles and back to the digestive system to help break down the sugar. The salt content in sports drinks is an essential part of hydration.

Basic Logic: Food is fuel for an athlete’s body. Make sure you give it something it can really use, something you know and like!

The first step in approaching a nutrition program for a triathlete in training is to look at how you might eat on race day (and every day of training):

  • Rise early and eat early so that your stomach will settle before your start.
  • Keep some calories coming in during the event to keep your energy up.
  • Eat well after the race to replenish all lost nutrients, restore muscle glycogen and to help restore broken down muscle tissue.

 

A good physical effort starts with a good meal the night before. Dinners should have a nice mix of the macro nutrients: carbohydrates, proteins, fat. Avoid foods that can affect your sleep and irritate your GI.

When you wake up in the morning, you should always eat. Think of a night of sleep as a mini fast; you need to be topped off before the morning’s effort.

It is recommended to take in calories as you train over periods of one hour or more. At 2 hours or more, you’ll jeopardize your goal unless you take in calories.

Basic Logic: Frequent, high quality workouts can be obtained as long as recovery is maximized. Recovery can and should include hydration, nutrition, stretching, massage (even self massage), REM sleep, icing and an oxygen-rich environment.

Training for a long distance endurance event requires an athlete to perform long, intense efforts and it requires them to perform them day after day. Recovery starts before the workout ends. Never let yourself run out of energy during a workout. Learn to take in some easily digestible carbohydrates early and often during long workouts (more than 60-75 minutes).

Eating after a workout is possibly the most critical nutritional consideration for an athlete. For the best recovery, it’s important that you eat a high glycemic food “in the window”, which is within 30 minutes of completing a workout. After the window - say, 30 to 60 minutes after the workout - it’s nice to eat a lower glycemic food along with a complete protein.

Stretching and massage can speed recovery. If massage therapy is not available after every workout (and let’s be honest, that’s a dream), then you can help speed recovery by simply massaging muscles with skin lotion or even in the shower with soap. You can rub the tissue back and forth and with long strokes toward the heart. There is really no “wrong” way to do it.

All elements of this regimen (plus rehydration) will get the body built back up and ready for the next effort.

Ready to run? Beginner run Workouts

RECOVERY RUN

A recovery run is a necessary workout and can be a big help in reducing soreness, and accelerating run comfort.

Workout - Review | Print

FARTLEK

Fartlek is Swedish for Speedplay. Learn how you can apply it to almost any run and tweak it to fit your needs. 

Workout - Review | Print

 

HILL REPEATS

Hill repeats can build leg power, support good running technique, and expand aerobic fitness.

Workout - Review | Print

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Coaching Recommendations

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