Are your long runs too long?
Most of us who have done stand-alone marathons know how important those 20-mile training runs can be to marathon performance. But resist the temptation to do them when training for an Ironman. It’s a physiologically different event. “The big mistake I see people make is in their long runs,” says Kropelnicki. “They think they need a three-hour run to run well at Ironman.” Caitlin Snow, who consistently runs her Ironman marathons in the 2:50 range and has been the fastest American female runner in Kona for the past two years, never runs continuously for more than two hours at a time and keeps all of her training runs completely aerobic. So does Jessie Donavan, a long-course pro with three children who, in her first year as a professional, won Ironman Lake Placid and Ironman Mont-Tremblant and placed second at Ironman St. George last year. “At the end of the day, all that matters is your weekly total mileage of running,” says Kropelnicki, who coaches Snow and Donavan. He points out that with runs longer than 2.5 hours “the athlete’s mechanics fall apart and the injury rate goes up tremendously, so it doesn’t add much to the athlete’s ability to run off the bike.” Like many top Ironman coaches, Kropelnicki prefers instead to break up his athletes’ long runs into two separate sessions: a 90-minute run in the morning, and then another 90-minute run in the afternoon following a bike session to simulate race demands.
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