Triathlon Troubleshooter

  • By T.J. Murphy
  • Published Dec 7, 2012
  • Updated Oct 31, 2014 at 4:40 PM UTC
Illustration by Oliver Baker.

I run out of gas during the late stages of the run.

You can’t hold goal race pace, and when the going gets tough there’s no toughing it out. The body slows down into a bare-minimum walk-jog, and the last miles of the race seem to take forever.

Solution: “Newer triathletes usually don’t have a solid mechanical or aerobic foundation, so they can’t hold a high exertion rate for a long period of time,” says Jamie Ingalls, a triathlon and cycling coach based in Chattanooga, Tenn. The solution? “You might need to slow down in your training.” When Ingalls begins working with a new client, he typically has them run at slow paces and heart rate levels to construct the proper cardiovascular foundation, which will later support the faster paces desired for race day, for longer periods of time. He also directs his athletes to simultaneously develop a biomechanical foundation. “Even though they’re running at a slow pace, I want them using a quick cadence to develop the right neuromuscular pattern.” So as his athletes conduct their early-season training runs at slow heart rate levels and corresponding paces, they also practice a short, peppery stride rate of approximately 90 strikes of each foot per minute. This sets the stage, Ingalls explains, for a faster future when the triathlete will be prepared to hold goal race paces from start to finish.

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