Fit Young Male Runner Doing An Ironman Run Workout Down A City Street Next To A Fence

Crowie’s Key Pre-Triathlon Run Workout

BY Craig Alexander

This IRONMAN workout — a favorite of legendary triathlete Craig “Crowie” Alexander — helps you nail pacing without creating too much fatigue before your race.

After months of consistent high-volume training, dialing in your taper is critically important. Do too much work, and you won’t allow your body to recover and peak for race day; do too little, and you’ll risk losing fitness or feeling tired and lethargic during race week. 

Avoid Going Too Hard During a Triathlon Taper

Managing a pre-race taper was always a delicate balance for me. During the final phase of my race preparation, my mantra was “replenish, not deplete.” I knew that I wouldn’t make any significant gains in strength or endurance during the last 10 days before the event, but I also needed to log a few final workouts to signal I was ready to race.

Within this context of fine-tuning my taper, my key pre-IRONMAN workouts were designed to maintain aerobic conditioning and strength while stimulating efficient neuro-muscular pathways and reinforcing proper movement patterns. 

To accomplish these objectives, I would perform sessions at Zone 2 intensity that were punctuated with multiple injections of sustained race pace efforts. For these sessions to be truly effective, precise pace management was paramount. To realize the neuro-muscular benefits without depleting myself, it was vital to resist the urge to go “all out.”  

To illustrate how I applied this strategy, here’s a run workout I always did seven days before the Hawaii IRONMAN.

Pre-Triathlon Workout: Pendulum Pacing

This workout accrues 36 minutes at your targeted race speed through a series of short intervals, so it should feel relatively comfortable. The key is to carefully control your pacing, as dictated in the “Race Pace” and “Float” segments. Athletes who train with me will recognize that this is the same “Pendulum Pacing” we teach in our programs, where we swing between race efforts and slightly slower recovery speeds.

I liked to perform this session at least once on the event’s actual run course (especially when I was in Hawaii). While doing so, I always imagined myself in the race, running with that sparkle you dream of when you’re having a great day! This visualization practiced while training on the race venue reinforced mental cues for good technique that could be called upon during the heat of competition. 

If you want to optimize your pre-event sharpness and provide yourself with a boost of confidence leading up to your “A” race, then give this IRONMAN workout a go. It revs up your cardiovascular system and maintains your familiarity with race speed without causing residual fatigue.

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About Craig Alexander

Craig “Crowie” Alexander is a 5-time IRONMAN World Champion, former Kona course record holder, and 12-time Australian champion. Since founding the Sansego Triathlon Club in 2014, he has guided over 7,100 athletes to faster performances. Sansego training plans are available exclusively on TrainingPeaks.

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