The triathlon training blog of Phil Barnes

Getting through it

Further to my half-marathon race report, I received the following email from someone I used to do group training with. (Himself, an accomplished marathoner, Ironman and Rudy-award recipient). I find his insight very useful:


Hi Phil:

There is a fine line to distinguish when to start fighting to hold onto a performance. Yours happened pretty early in the race and those types of things usually lead me to Plan B and just try to "enjoy" the day - I figure if I have to battle for that long, I am doing negative things to my body. If you are in the last quarter or so of the race and things start to go south, then I will try to battle through to the end. The battle usually starts with taking an inventory of things: what is limiting my performance?(nutrition, fluids, heat, lack of training type things). I try to repair the limiting factor(s) ASAP and then I set a series of small goals as you were trying to do (pace/km) and breaking things down into fractions. If I am at 16km and have 5km left, then at 17km I am 1/5th the way home, and at 18 2/5th and so on. It is really nice to get to 3/5th and then you think you are almost done. Other things, I use are songs to get my mind off of the discomfort and focusing on other competitors and trying to stay in contact with them. You will develop your own coping mechanisms.

Although your fuel belt was very handy for the man you helped, I would try to get into the habit of racing without it. There are usually water stations along the race course. You just have to get used to drinking out of cups (Hint: fold over the rim on each side to funnel the liquid into your mouth). Also I find the concentration of Gatorade too strong so I will get a water cup and Gatorade cup and pour out ~half the gatorade and dilute with ~half the water. Drink the Gatorade cup and then chase it down with the remaining water.

You did not ask for this but I will add it anyway. As far as your training is concerned: If you want to get faster, you will have to train faster. After I feel I have a good running base, I make sure to get in some speed work in once a week (ideally). I like to do 12*400m repeats taking equal amounts of rest. ex.Try for 80 sec running/ 80sec rest. You will likely have to work up to 12 as you will likely not make it past 6 in your first attempt unless you pace yourself really well from the start. It is easier to do this with a buddy at the track who is similar speed to you and one person runs while the other is resting. Another good workout is 6*1km with ~90-120 sec rest. You have to determine a pace but I think you would be capable of 3:45/km. Both these workouts can also be done along any bike path.

Good luck.