Meet Asheville’s Zach Tacy, an elite triathlete who recently completed the Ironman Virginia 70.3 with a total time of 4:21:23. He PR’d by 10 minutes and was first in his age group, 8th overall, and qualified for the World Championships In Nice, France.
He also competed in the 70.3 World Championship in South Africa with a total time of 4:34:01 and placed 407th overall. He was 28th in his age group out of over 4,500 world athletes.
His most recent accomplishment was the Ironman 70.3 Eagleman, where he placed first out of 44 in his age group and 34th overall out of 2,174 participants. As a former iDream Athlete, our iDaph team couldn’t be prouder of Zach’s accomplishments.
Running Tips for Sprint Tri
So many of us have a love/hate relationship with running. There are days when you can happily run for miles, and other days where you’d like to give up running altogether.
Even Zach Tacy, an elite triathlete (who has run a mile or two), says the more you exercise, the more hard days you will have.
“Everyone has hard days. Sometimes just showing up is the best you can do and that’s okay, because you showed up, because you found the mental power to be there, even when you’re not feeling it, even when you know it’s going to hurt.”
Intervals are key
With running, it’s important to change up your work-outs, Zach says. Try a couple of easy runs, then push yourself by doing intervals at a tempo-run. What is tempo? A pace about 25 to 30 seconds per mile slower than your current 5K race pace. Zach suggests running a mile at this pace, then running a 200 to 400 at a slower pace, depending on your skill level. For a sprint tri, he suggests running 800s and 1,000s at a slower pace.
Active.com suggests the following sprint-specific workouts for the run and bike portion of a sprint triathlon:
Tempo Brick: 45- to 6-minute bike: Warm Up and then include 4 x 5K intervals at race-pace effort (2-minute recoversies).
15- to 20-minute run: Following the bike effort, quickly transition to the run at your 5K race pace. Walk/easy jog for a few minutes for your cooldown.
Shaving down transition time
Practicing the transition from bike to run is important, Zach points out - especially for beginners.
“When you get off your bike, your legs feel funny. It’s a really weird feeling that you have to get used to,” he adds. “That’s something I didn’t expect at all the first time I did a tri, so it’s definitely good to get experience with that.”
Track Brick workouts are great for this. Active.com suggests the following workout:
Complete a 4- to 5-mile ride with the last mile at race-pace effort. Then quickly transition to a 1-mile run on the track. Build speed each quarter, so that the last quarter is at 5K race-pace effort. Complete this pattern two more times for a total of 12 to 15 miles of cycling and 3 miles of running. Following the last mile run, do a walk/easy jog for a few minutes for your cooldown.
Practice good form
With running, form is especially important.
“Most runners don’t use their arms enough,” Zach points out. “You don’t want to be actively pumping your arms, but don’t keep them slack. Have motion in them - this opens up your stride and is very beneficial. You’ll get more power doing less work.”
There’s a lot of technical form where minor adjustments can make a big difference. Another important tip with running is to keep your body relaxed.
“If you start tensing up and trying to push harder, generally your form will fall apart,” Zach says. “When I notice myself doing this, I take a quick mental refresher, shake it out, open my stride and try to relax my shoulders.”
Lean forward, Zach adds.
“Lean into the rush, THEN start pushing. Use the right muscle groups to finish strong.”
Don’t skimp on running shoes
Visiting a local running store and getting properly fitted can save you miles of pain and suffering. For training purposes, Zach recommends getting a shoe that’s comfortable and has decent cushion. Runners often opt for a lighter shoe to make them feel faster, but more minimalist shoes can also put more stress on your joints.
Join a local running group
Asheville has plenty of local running groups to choose from to keep you motivated. Jus’ Running, for example, has weekly track and running workouts. Fleet Feet also has weekly running groups for all abilities, along with Vertical Runner in Black Mountain.
Give kudos to others
Another tip that Zach feels helps him stay motivated is to give others encouragement during races.
“It reminds me that I have enough energy to keep pushing myself. I try to encourage other racers while I’m racing because everyone is out there trying their best,” he says. “Not everyone has a support crew to cheer them on…they’re just doing their race.”
Our iDaph Team will definitely be cheering you on during the Asheville Triathlon next month. Click here for more information about the Asheville Triathlon, and to register for this event, which takes place Sunday, July 21st.
Think you're too cool to Tri?
Well. You might be. But here’s some tips for running whether this is your first triathlon or 1,000th. Remember - a sprint tri is a 5K run. You totally got this!
- Tip 1: Stay “Relaxed”. Try to prevent tensing up the shoulders.
- Tip 2: Dig deep. Running is as much mental strength as it is physical, so when a race or workout gets hard, you’ve got to dig deep to find the strength to finish strong.
- Tip 3: Finish Strong! You will never regret the pain it takes.
(Photo Credit: Wright Creative, Inc.)
Training Schedule for Asheville Triathlon
Two swims per week
Two bikes per week
Two runs per week
Zach Tacy talks about why the Asheville Triathlon is the event to sign up for this year.
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