First off the bike, then fade on the run. Sound familiar? Wildflower Long Course record holder Heather Jackson is here to help, because she’s been there, too.
This article was originally published in the July/August 2012 issue of Inside Triathlon magazine.
Heather Jackson played ice hockey in college (at Princeton, in case you were wondering). While that sport made the 28-year-old tough as a puck, her dedication to dominating the ice left little time for other endeavors like, say, swimming, biking and running. So when Jackson picked up triathlon post-graduation, she had some work to do. Her run needed a boost, and she says she’s still waiting for her swim technique to “click.” But all of those years of Division I hockey gave her unmatched quad strength, so naturally, her race strategy became: Get through the swim, crush the bike, then hang on for the run. That plan worked out well, but never netted her a first-place finish at her target distance of 70.3. Only after she completely revamped her training and racing tactics did she win Wildflower in 2012, running past Linsey Corbin and Melanie McQuaid to set a new course record of 4:26:29. Below, Jackson reveals her tips for transforming into a bike-run powerhouse.
Get weight wise.
Dial in your weight so you feel both strong and light. “I was about 25 pounds heavier my first year of racing,” Jackson says. She shed the extra muscle, then used a few events to fine-tune her race weight. “I went into Oceanside 70.3 feeling light, but I didn’t have the strength,” Jackson says. She packed on about four pounds of muscle in the five weeks between O-Side and Wildflower and nailed it—she ran a 1:21:08 to cinch her Wildflower victory.
Your body will inevitably burn some muscle if you lose weight. Jackson retained her leg power while shedding pounds by making strength work a big part of her training program. “I’ve been running a ton of hills,” Jackson says.
Jackson learned to hold back on the bike and trust that doing so would leave her legs ready to run down her competition. “There are three sports and you’re out there for four hours, or however long your race is,” Jackson says. “You don’t win the race in just one of them.”
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