Tom Holland is a nationally recognized fitness expert who has competed in more than 15 Ironman Triathlons, which makes him a great candidate to explain some common running terms and what they mean to him. In fact, Holland has a second edition of the 12-Week Triathlete, which is a complete training guide for anyone who wants to take on the triple threat of swimming biking and running. Holland is an expert when it comes to endurance training, and no one would argue with the advice that he gives. But since some of our readers may not end up competing in 15 full length triathlons (slackers!), we thought that it would be good to share the experiences of a regular runner as well. In this post, we’ll first take an excerpt from the “12-Week Triathlete” where Tom introduces a common running term and explains his take on it, and then we’ll have Brian chime in with his thoughts as an “average Joe” runner. Also be sure to pre-order Tom’s newest book, “Swim, Bike, Run — Eat” available July 1st.
Running economy: Namely “how” you run. While individual differences do exist, there is such a thing as “good running form.”
National fitness expert and author Tom Holland
Tom says: Great runners require less energy to perform at high speeds, and part of this has to do with the manner in which they run. Speed training not only improves overall speed by making physiological changes to your body, it also forces you to become a more economical runner, making you faster as a result. I also believe that running long distances over time also forces us to become more economical runners. Our bodies are incredibly smart machines, and as we get more and more fatigued during a long run, we simply can’t afford to waste energy and our body adapts in order to survive. Chances are you won’t see someone running with too much bounce at mile 22 of a marathon.
Brian says: I couldn’t agree more. As someone who walks my dog at ponds and parks that are frequented by runners, I have a chance to observe a wide variety of running styles and like to think that I can tell when someone’s form is working for them, and when it is working against them. I’m not going to claim that I have perfect form (I could be equally unaware of my flaws), but I like to think that I am not doing anything too bad to slow myself down. I also feel more comfortable when I use an economy of form on long runs, where it is crucial to preserve energy for later miles. I try to stay light and loose for as long as possible, because once I start hitting miles in the late teens and early 20s, it becomes a lot harder to get the job done. The best form on those early miles is the one that conserves the most juice.
Local running newbie and blogger Brian
Negative Splits: Essentially getting faster as the run progresses. You might start your half marathon running 9-minute miles and slowly pick up the pace until you finish running at 8:30 or even faster pace.
Tom says: I personally follow this race strategy and believe it is a smart way approach longer running races, especially longer distance triathlons. You run conservatively at the start and finish strong rather than go out too fast and end up walking the final miles.
Brian says: I also agree with this strategy. Even though I have run a fair amount of races, I always go into the race with a seed of doubt as to whether I can complete the distance required. So it feels good to keep some energy in the tank at the beginning of the race. The burst of adrenaline you get at the starting line can convince you to come out fast, but that will wear off and you don’t want to blow out early. For me, the most important thing is establishing my pace and my breath on long runs and making sure that I can get as many miles out of the way without straining too much, so I have enough in the tank for the challenges ahead.
Bonk: Quite simply, to run out of gas during your race.
Tom says: Symptoms may include (but are not limited to) being lightheaded, dizzy, and having legs that feel like lead. Some say that it is the result of running out of glycogen stores, some say it is from the lack of adequate endurance training, and others content that it is a combination of the two. Quite often it happens at around mile 20 of a marathon, and for good scientific reason if you haven’t adequately fueled yourself.
Brian says: Because I tend to run on the conservative side (as outlined above), I have been mostly fortunate to avoid the dreaded bonk. That’s not to say that I haven’t been miserable during the last six miles of a marathon, or that I finish with tons of energy left in reserve. There was one marathon where I did experience the bonk–and unfortunately for me, it was at mile 13. That means I was only halfway towards my goal, and I knew I was in for a grueling grinder of a finish. The reason I bonked is that I had foolishly run a half marathon the weekend before and didn’t give myself enough time to recover. My body just didn’t have the energy I needed. As I trudged through mile after painful mile I used every mental trick in the book to keep myself going. I managed to finish, but I found the experience humbling to the point of being embarrassed. I wanted to run the race on my own terms, not push myself through it by any means necessary. When I finished, I was genuinely surprised that my knees were not damaged because I felt like I was grinding on my joints for hours. Since then, I have been more careful about spacing out my runs prior to big races to keep my legs fresh and avoid the dreaded bonk.
It takes only 12 weeks to train to compete in a triathlon—no matter what level you’re at now! Imagine being able to successfully compete in a triathlon in just three short months! You can, with fitness expert Tom Holland’s all-encompassing, easy-to-use training manual, “The 12-Week Triathlete.” This completely revised and updated edition gives fitness enthusiasts the most exciting, encouraging, and up-to-date exercise information, including 12 brand-new training plans that outline exactly what you need to do every day up until the big event for ultimate triathlon success. Whether you are a beginner or a seasoned triathlete, training for a Sprint, Olympic, Half-Ironman, or Ironman event, this book offers a complete, step-by-step program that will help you strengthen, tone-up, and both physically and mentally prepare for the big day. You will learn how to:
Swim – Start your race confidently, swim strongly surrounded by others, and transition easily from a wetsuit. Bike – choose the right bike, transport it safely to the race, and fuel yourself properly while you ride. Run – Don’t bonk, improve your speed, and see your race through to the end. Put It All Together – Eat right through the 12 weeks, train for each segment of the race, gather your equipment and transport it safely to the race, plan for and avoid last-minute emergencies, and, most of all, have fun and continue to compete in the future. In addition all this, you’ll also find insider information on weight-training, endurance training, and speed work, as well as answers to questions like “Can you eat during a race?,” “How do you line up your bike so you can jump right on it?,” and “What is the best way to quickly shed your wetsuit?’ The 12-Week Triathlete is your secret weapon to triathlon triumph—start training today!
It’s race day and you have your quick-closure running shoes, sleek suits, bikes, goggles, and watches, but if you haven’t been training with the proper nutrition, you’ll be left in the dust in the third mile.
Enter Swim, Bike, Run—Eat to guide you through day one of training to the finish line and help your body perform at the peak of fitness. In this book, an ideal companion to author Tom Holland’s The 12-Week Triathlete, he will join sports dietitian Amy Goodson covering race-day essentials, food choices to complement your training regimen, as well as recovery nutrition.
Learn how to determine what to eat; what to drink; how many calories to consume each day; whether or not to carry snacks while training; the difference between taking in calories from solid foods, semi-solids, and liquids; and whether or not to take electrolyte or salt tablets. Casual and core triathletes alike require a nutrition guide that is easy to understand with expert advice that is easy to implement. Look no further and get ready to take your triathlon to a new, healthier level.