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Tuesday, February 1, 2011

12. Triathletes listen up – your swim & bike could be hurting your run.

This is the last of the 12 part blog that has been going on over the last few months - or more than a few actually! If you have any requests for me to revisit issues, or embelish certain concepts, let me know. Thanks for the comments on the last blog by the way! As with my Runner's World column, I'll try to mix the run & sport psych. stuff up as I go along...

• Fatigue from S&B (swim & bike) leave less margin for pacing errors on the run

• Triathletes are generally heavier than runners

• Triathletes have less time to develop the run

• S&B muscle function (concentric) is opposite to the run (eccentric)

• S&B are supported activities, no need to combat gravity on every stroke like running steps

• In triathlon the swim & bike are partial effort activities, while the run is a maximum effort

More specifically:


• Bigger upper body musculature needed to swim lowers VO2max, raises center of mass

• Are set up ipsilaterally – i.e. the left hip and shoulder work together instead of opposite as running requires

• They have well developed engines but lower bone density – i.e. a weak chassis for running

• They have a “hard work” mindset which when applied to running may lead to break down


• Poor hip flexor mobility may make them quad dominant runners (poor extension, high launch angle), with rearward leaning shins at impact & slower stride rates

• The muscles on the outside of the thigh (vastus lateralis) may tend to be too large – may cause patellar tracking problems, IT Band Syndrome and add speed-limiting weight to the lever

• The upper calf muscles (gastrocnemius) may tend to become too large adding weight to the leg down low; a bad thing if you want to be able to swing that lever through quickly!

• Cyclists may tend to become hunched over and their connective tissue resets in this pattern. This impacts their posture and ability to maintain a tall and “stacked” posture when they run. They bend at the waist/hips & run as if their behind is stuck in a bucket

With the above in mind, develop training that counteracts these & do not allow the other sports to “blanket” the run conditioning especially as it pertains to the run neuro-muscular skill component. This can happens especially when riding the bike too much when injured on the run – use other alternatives.

© Bobby McGee – Bobby McGee Endurance Sports

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