At the end of 2015, a year where I was plagued with running-related injuries, I decided that I should start to think about other forms of training, ones that might ease the impact on my body, and especially on my knees. Should I get back into gym training, something I used to do a lot of in my early 20´s, or try something different, something new?!
I had been thinking about trying a triathlon for some years, but had been put off by a few things: the perceived time commitment required for training (especially the long ride); the cost of a good road bike (and competing in triathlon in general!); and the fact that I have always been more of a runner than a swimmer or a cyclist.
In the end the decision was partly driven by the excitement of a new challenge, partly by that want to diversify my training, and part by the opportunity to wear full lycra in a socially acceptable environment. I thought that swimming and cycling would ultimately increase the strength in my legs and upper body and reduce the stress on my knees and joints. So I started to look around for an event I could sign up for, settling with the Kronborg 70.3 in Denmark, due to both the timing of the event and proximity to Stockholm.
I bought myself a second hand road bike, a year membership at the local pool, and started incorporating some swimming and cycling into my weekly training regime. Although I kept running, my focus was more on swimming, my weakest of the three disciplines, and cycling, as I had never owned a road bike and had to get used to riding further than the local shops. As it was winter in Sweden and there was too much ice on the road, I spent a lot of time on the gym bike. As soon as spring arrived I started cycling outside, coming back with frost bitten toes more than once.
What I found was that as my swimming and cycling endurance improved, without changing anything in my running training, my running improved. Fast forward 4 months to April this year when I ran a 10 km race on Vaxholm, an island in Stockholm. It was part road (7 km) and part trail (3 km) but I ran a 38.58, 2 minutes faster than my previous best for a 10 km road race.
Although I am the first to acknowledge that an uncontrolled study of n=1 is not valid scientific evidence, I do feel as though it was my triathlon training that resulted in these improved running results. More importantly I have managed to stay injury free, with no pain in the knee or ITB.
The real test
The half iron man is almost here, I will race this Sunday June 19th. No doubt it will be tough but hopefully it will also be fun, and if I can survive the swim and bike and still feel ok it will be interesting to see what sort of half marathon time I can run. I haven´t run once since October 2015, which was a PB of 1:26, and I have never run one after any kind of swim or cycle. I´ll get back to you on how it went, watch this space.
Happy running (and cycling and swimming)!