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Run Stronger Off the Bike Now

Run Stronger Off the Bike Now.

We’ve all been there- slowing down, dismounting the bike, and then that feeling of complete jelly legs as we begin the run portion of our triathlon. Your legs might feel shaky and fatigued as you bring your body into the new upright position after having been hunched over on your aerobars for the past 3 to 6 hours.

The transition from bike to run is where mental strength and physical grit come together. In my opinion, this is the hardest part of the race because it requires the most mental and physical toughness. In this blog post, I’ll give you some tips to help you conquer this critical phase of your race, giving you the know-how and techniques to run stronger off the bike and unleash your full potential during the marathon portion of the Ironman. Let's dive in.

1. One way you can help your legs feel a little less tired is to ease up on your power the last 2 miles or so of your bike leg. While doing this, try to match the cycling cadence to your run cadence, about 85rpms. Spinning your legs out like this can be helpful as you get ready to transition into the run. Instead of speeding up at the end of your bike leg, think about “spinning” up instead.

2. Another way to run stronger off the bike is to replicate the race effort you want to put forth by doing brick runs often. This doesn’t mean you need to run for a long time off the bike several times a week. Fifteen or twenty minutes will do. I give my athletes 2 bricks per week, one mid-week and the other after their long ride on the weekend. Towards the end of their program, I may give them one additional brick workout depending on their race and their level of fitness.

Often I will give me athletes shorter bike loops follow by a 1 to 2 mile run at the track, then back to the short bike loop. I call this a “revolving brick” and it can be a game changer for your runs off the bike. An example of this is to find a 6-8 mile loop for bike and leave your running shoes at a track nearby. Ride the loop hard then get off the bike and run a mile or 2. Do this several times (run-bike-run-bike-etc.) for a tough yet effective workout.

3. Doing more running efforts at or just below your anaerobic threshold zone is also effective. This means more run efforts where you are feeling like it is hard to talk. For example, do 3X5 min efforts in Z4 with a few minutes of recovery between each. Getting comfortable with uncomfortable will build your fitness, increase your VO2 Max, and make you feel stronger as you begin your run off the bike.

4. Lastly, what are you doing in the gym for your lower body? Anything that tires the legs is good. What about leg day followed by a short but intense run? This is a great way to get that feeling of heavy legs, the same as you get from bike to run. Make leg day a consistent part of your strength program. If you need some suggestions, check out my YouTube Channel (Marinewife Multisport).

Have you thought about hiring a coach for your next iron distance race? Click the purple button below and fill out the contact form for a free 15 min chat with me about your race goals.

Mary Timoney

Ironman University Certified Coach

USA Cycling Coach

ACSM Trainer


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