13 Jul Nail Your Build Run

By Carrie Lester – Professional Triathlete

The long build run…cringe…
It’s always the one for me that can be the hardest – more mentally than physically. But when done right can add a great deal of strength and endurance to the legs, and mind! Here are 5 things I have learned over the years from many failed, and also some successful, long build runs.

How long is long? Well that depends on your goal race, and also your level of fitness when starting the run. For me, I have years of running in my legs, but even at the start of an Ironman prep, my build runs are only 60-75mins. These gradually increase to around 2 hrs – and most of that is easy running to “flush” the legs. Here are my tips:

1. Start out easy.

Sounds easy enough, but I have learned the hard way many times. Give yourself time to warm up and get the blood moving through your legs with a very easy jog. Almost a shuffle. Gradually increase the pace a little to a steady jog but keep it really easy to start.

2. Don’t force the pace – let how you are feeling dictate the effort in which you build the pace.

It’s ok to have an idea of the numbers you want to hit as you progress through your build, but don’t let these rule the run. From your starting jog, pick up the pace a bit and see how you FEEL and then go from there, gradually increasing the pace every 10 mins or so (depending on your run duration). Never force the pace if it feels too hard too soon. I have had runs that have felt so fluid and smooth finishing at a pace that is faster than my ½ marathon pace, and then others I have barely been able to hold my marathon pace to finish. Its all about what you have on the day. Work with what you ARE feeling and not what you THINK YOU SHOULD be feeling.

3. Fuel & hydrate early to optimize a strong finish.

Bonking at the end of a longer build run isn’t always a result of starting out too hard, or forcing the pace too soon. It can be because you are dehydrated and/or you have simply run out of fuel. On the longer runs, I like to have a gel before and during the run (usually 15mins before I start the build). My choice is XRCEL because its easy for me to digest and never upsets my stomach. I also carry a hand flask with electrolyte and fill up with water along the way. For runs about 60mins you should be ok with one XRCEL just before, but for anything over 75mins think about taking extra with you.

4. Choose your terrain wisely.

An ideal build run finishes on a flat section or even somewhere slightly downhill when you want your leg turnover to be cranking along. Some hills at first when you are warming up are ok, and can often make you feel better when you start your build, but try to find somewhere you can really hammer out the build portion. If you can’t find this outside, it can be replicated on a treadmill. Start out very easy at a 0% incline, then increase to 2% for 10mins, then 3% for another 10mins, and then flatten it off and run easy for 5mins and then crank your build out.

5. Pick the right partner.

If you are running with someone, try to run with someone that has a similar pace or is only slightly faster. That way you won’t start too fast or try and run your build at a pace that has you starting at your finishing pace. If you are running with someone faster, right from the start, just let them go and stick to your pace.

Have fun! And I hope you nail your next build run!

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