Running pacing strategy

Everyone in triathlons knows where their weaknesses lie. They may just about confess this weakness to a coach, but apart from that they usually won’t tell a sole. However, without giving too much away about my ‘area for improvement’, I like to read around the parts that hurt me the most. And for me, the most most painful section of my triathlon is the first kilometer of the run. That much effort, both physically and mentally, goes in to the swim and the ride that the ability go through the transition is usually a disorientating 30 seconds. The blood just doesn’t seem to shift fast enough. You may be the person has the background of running, and so you find this part rather easy, but as an ex race cyclist the first few minutes of the run feel like I’m running with bread knives in my hamstrings. So, have a found a cure? No, but I may have found a strategy.

In a study by Hausswirth et al (2010), going a bit faster or a bit slower during the first kilometer after the cycle/run transition can make all the difference in your performance. The researchers tested a number of athletes over a few trials. Each trial had a different running strategy for the first kilometer. After finding out each subjects 10km pace, they asked each runner, for the first kilometer, to run at 5% less, 5% more, and also 10% less than their 10km pace. For a 40min 10km runner, this would be doing 4:12s/km, 3:48s/km and 4:24s/km for the first kilometer. The subjects then ran the remaining 9km as fast as possible.
The findings highlighted that running at 5% slower has a greater effect of overall performance.

The implications of why this occurs is not discussed in the abstract, but from my own perspective, knowing that I can afford to 5% slower for the first kilometer will certainly have a positive effect on my psychology, and may even push me to apply more power on the bike.

So there you go, you can go faster if you run slower….but only in the first kilometer 😉
Eur J Appl Physiol. 2010 Apr;108(6):1115-23.
Pacing strategy during the initial phase of the run in triathlon: influence on overall performance.
Hausswirth C, Le Meur Y, Bieuzen F, Brisswalter J, Bernard T.


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