There's really no mystery to getting ready for your sprint triathlon run.
If you're not a runner, start with a walk/run program like the Couch to 5K. You'll run a little, walk a little. The next week, you'll run a little more in between walking. And so on.
If you're already running 5Ks, you can follow the same principle and once a week do some slow/fast intervals. And you can practice running when you get off the bike, even if it's just for a hundred yards or so. That's all there is to it.
But because running isn't rocket science, we tend to let it discourage us as new triathletes. Why? Because it looks easy, and it isn't. We tend to look at runners who have been doing it for a few years and see how effortless it seems to them and compare this to our own, slower, more labored efforts. We think: Maybe I am doing something wrong.
We think: It really shouldn't hurt this much.
We think: I'm really slow.
So when others invite us to run, we feel anxious. "You won't want to run with me," we say. "I'm slow."
OK. Here's the deal. Unless you meet a world champion, every runner you meet will say she's slow. It's a runner's quirk. We all compare ourselves to faster people. And there are always faster people. So just because someone runs faster than you some of the time doesn't mean she doesn't understand what "I'm slow" feels like.
Second, just because someone runs faster than you some of the time doesn't mean she always goes that fast! There are lots of types of runs. If someone wants to run with you, it is not because you are the best runner ever. It is because you seem like you would be good company on the road. This is true no matter what the pace is.
Do you want to know what seasoned runners know? We know that starting to run is hard. We know it takes effort. Sticking with it once you realize the effort, that takes guts. We know this. And we give enormous respect to you for sticking with it. It is encouraging to be with people who are putting real effort into improvement. Who wouldn't want to be around that? At whatever pace?
If someone wants to run with you, it's not a charity mission. They're not just being patient with you. They think it sounds like fun to share a running experience with you. If it is a more seasoned runner, trust me, they know what it is like to run at all kinds of paces and they know they will get benefits from the run. Your enthusiasm and grit, not least, but also a run workout that they are consciously choosing. So go run with people who ask. Have fun.
And try, if you can, to get the word "slow" out of your head. You may be the less fast runner compared to some random other runner, but you are way faster than if you were sitting still.
- Still worried about fast/slow pacing between running partners? Try the bungee jump. This is where the runners agree that every so often, the faster runner will go ahead and then run back to her partner. This lets the faster runner do some speed intervals and come back for recovery. Also, having this agreement in place lets the less fast runner be confident that if her friend is running at the less fast pace, it's because she wants to, not because she feels like she has to.
- If you are not a runner and are training for your first sprint tri, you don't have to state your goal in terms of pace. Remember, what you're doing is adapting your body to move on foot working at hard effort for 30-40 minutes. How well your body adapts depends on a lot of factors. On race day, you'll ask your body to perform to the level of its adaptation. There is no right or wrong about what that level should be.
- Repeat after me: WALKING IS NOT FAILING. When you are a newer runner, walking is the recovery that lets you run again. It's a GOOD THING.