#20 The One About Running (with Bobby McGee)

The podcast that helps you improve your swimming, love the water and live a better life.


Bobby McGee has 31 years of coaching experience. He started intensely coaching triathletes in 2002. He has coached the Olympic champion in Atlanta in a marathon. He also coached some age group race walkers, some amateur race walkers to world titles and then the last decade has been full on with the triathletes.

Watch some of Bobby’s new ‘Run Transformation’ program here

Brenton Ford:    So I want to welcome everyone to this Google hangout with Bobby McGee. I came across Bobby from a friend of mine who said you should check out what this guy is doing online. Watch his videos he has some really good tips with running. I have been watching Bobby’s videos for the last couple of months and I really like what he is doing. I think we have a very similar coaching philosophy and that was why I wanted to get him on a call today. Just watching some of his videos have improved my run and I know you will be able to do the same with yours.

Welcome to the Google hangout session.

Bobby McGee:    Thanks Brent, I am looking forward to it. I must say I like your stuff too because when we started communicating I got a chance to look at some of that stuff. We had a chat about some of your background, and the backgrounds are fantastic because of those great colours.

Brenton Ford:    Most people are probably familiar with your background; you are an Olympic run coach but for those that aren’t familiar with your background can you give us a bit of a run down on your background and some of the athletes you have worked with.

Bobby McGee:    I started off, I was a high school teacher for 12 years and I have been coaching distance running in some form or another for… this is my 31 year of coaching. That seriously ages me. I started intensely coaching triathletes in 2002 and I start with triathlon myself in 1985. Middle distance runners first bunch of milers and 800m runners I coached a kid who ended up in the top 10 in the world for 1500m and 1 mile. In 1996 I was almost exclusively coaching road runners and I coached the Olympic champion in Atlanta in a marathon. Then I had some world records on the road and some world champions on the road as well. In there I have also coached some age group race walkers, some amateur race walkers to world titles and then the last decade has been full on with the triathletes. Mostly with the ITU style triathletes but I see a lot of long course athletes for the biomechanics specifically. Then I do some of the long course pro’s and help them with their mental skills as well.

Brenton Ford:    Awesome. What we were talking about earlier and what I want to get out of the hangout today is just giving some tips that triathletes can take away and use in their training and their racing to start improving right away.

We have talked about a few of these things and have written them down, but the first one is running off the bike. What is the difference between someone… You might be starting a normal run race with someone and they might beat you in that race but then you might beat them off the bike. Can you talk about some of the differences between running off the bike and normal running?

Bobby McGee:     The research is still in its early stages with the Olympics only starting for triathlon in 2000. The research is in its early stages. Some of the Italians are doing some good stuff, in 2009 the AIS did some work at the world championships and found that a large percentage of age groupers, more than a third of them I think, actually lose access to their neuromuscular patterning when they run. They neurologically are incapable of running off the bike anywhere near close to the form that they would have if they were just running in an open race. I think as much as 17% of the pros suffer from the same thing. What happens is when you get off the bike; good runners probably have a 5-1 ratio in terms of elastic return to power. A poorer runner has a higher power component and in triathlon on the bike obviously that is all power. So if you are a power type rider and then you try and back that up with a power type run you are going to run into trouble very quickly. Another factor that plays into that is if you have a low rating especially for age groupers that a riding a time trial position on the bike; say they have a rating 75-80-85 revs per minute on the bike and then they get onto the run and they need a higher rating than that it is very difficult muscular transition to make. What we are doing with the long course athletes at the moment and with the ITU kids we are trying to get them to run with a higher rating so that their run is less predicated on strength.

Brenton Ford:    That is something that we spoke about yesterday. If you have a triathlete and their rating on the run might be 85 so you are recommending that on the bike they should be rating about the same?

Bobby McGee:    You actually want them rating when they racing, depending on how fast they are. Some of the slower paces people are running 6 minutes a km off the bike then they are going to rate a little lower; they are probably going to rate about 88-90 when they race. Typically you probably want them in the mid 90’s. It is not as easy as moving your rating up on the bikes. If you typically have habituated yourself to produce good power at the lowest possible heart rate to meet the demands of competition at a low rev rate, say 80, then you want to move your rev rate up on the bike so you can run better you are going to be inefficient on the bike. It is a neuromuscular learning curve as opposed to just moving the rating up on the bike. It is pointless going to ride 90 on the bike, not producing good power, having your heart rate go through the roof just because you want to run at that same rating. It is much more of an organic process to get to that. As I said yesterday people need to bike proof themselves to be able to run well. Part of that is going through that process of moving up their rating.

Brenton Ford:    What are some of the different approaches in training from short stuff versus long stuff? Someone who is doing a sprint distance triathlon compared to half ironman or an ironman?

Bobby McGee:    It is very important is you are a sprint distance racer and its cut and thrust type racing, a lot of surges a lot of accelerations a lot of different paces of running, then a lot higher intensity of running for a very short distance; then your training benefits a lot more from VO2 Max type training, intermittent training where you are doing 5 leg gear changes. Whereas if you are a long course athlete you really want to train yourself to be rock steady. You want to be a pacing genius and be able to run steady, steady, steady no matter what people are doing off the bike at the start of the run you really want to smart out smooth at the pace the conditions and your fitness allows and stick to that pace no matter what is going on around you. The training approach is very different, in fact there is some anecdotal evidence that people that do intermittent training get really fit, they have good numbers but they don’t race as well over the longer distances and vice versa. If you are doing a lot of steady type of training which is your race pace training for the shorter distances for the sprint and the Olympic distance and you get involved in races with lots of changes of pace, lots of hills and accelerations then you don’t do as well. It is very much the law of specificity; you want long steady stuff for the long steady races and you want the more intermittent explosive fast pace running for the shorter races.

Brenton Ford:    You were also talking about building the muscles to be able to deal with that; were talking about your low intensity running and how much low intensity training should you be doing?

Bobby McGee:    The research is pretty clear here that your physiology likes consistency the most. The more consistent you can be the better; when you are running a little slower, it is the age old conundrum for triathletes, what happens is that the guys go out the door and they are only running 5 times a week or 4 times a week and are running in counter parts of 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 times a week. When they do go out so infrequently, they tend to push the pace a little bit and when they do that they don’t have to worry about backing up the next day with a run because they are going to be on the bike or on the water or both. What happens is that from those faster paced runs they just don’t develop that consistency; they actually de-train from training too hard too often. They need to slow down a little bit because what they are really trying to do is increase their bone density a little bit if they come from a swimming background they are trying to develop some consistency so they can back it up the next day with some more run training because those repeated run efforts are the things that lead to good conditioning. I am always telling the triathletes to slow down and then they are such tech geeks that they find out from the lab or some kind of test that their training pace should be 5 minutes a km or 4.30 a km. They get out the door and look at the watch and try to run 4.30 a km off the bat, but maybe their body needs 6 minutes a km until they settle down. I think a good coach with a triathletes run is always putting on the hand brake; you can bike a lot more you can swim a lot more because those environments and those activities are more conducive to volume. Whereas running you has to have a different mindset you have to be very patient you have to wait for it.

Brenton Ford:    As a kind when I was training for swimming that was one of the things that, I obviously didn’t know about that kind of training; keeping your heart rate lower and training at the lower intensity. A lot of the longer stuff whether it was 2100m’s or 2-3km set I did it when I was really pushing the limit and working hard because I like to work hard. That is one of the things that a really good athlete develop over time is that they learnt that training isn’t always about going as hard as you can and pushing yourself and being absolutely knackered at the end of the session; it is about being specific about your training and training in the zone you need to train for that session or for that set.

Bobby McGee:    Absolutely, I couldn’t agree more. I think athletes that go hammer and tong at it all the time they get to a point where they just don’t want to do it anymore. I think that is why a lot of people gravitate up from the sprint and the Olympic distance to the longer courses because it is just a lot more tolerable and the intensity is a lot more tolerable. In order to build consistency 80%-90% of your run training including your bike and your swim; I think the swim is a little different, but I think 80%-90% of your run and your bike needs to be super easy and it must be really enjoyable so that you can prepare yourself to do those quality workouts. You don’t really need a whole bunch of quality workouts to bring on your run to its top level but you do need a lot of consistency and that you can get by going a little easier.

Brenton Ford:    With my swim squad that is something that we have done this year towards our open water season and we have done a lot more longer stuff that has been lower intensity and it has paid off big time. The results this season have been really good because of that. It was a big light bulb moment for me I think when I realised that was the kind of training that you need to be doing. Even some of the sprinters need to be doing this lower intensity type stuff.

Bobby McGee:    Absolutely. It is so very interesting. Most people can do a good level of quality work; when I am working with a marathon runner, half marathon runner, ironman, half ironman type of athlete; they come from an explosive background so they are basket ball players or footy players and they really like to get their heads around a real juicy tough workout. They just don’t develop quite as well and you can slow them down and build some consistency over time has them run for 6 weeks continuously without some kind of breakdown, niggle, illness or injury then the fitness benefits are amazing. As I said earlier your physiology smiles on consistency and very few athletes can consistently train at a high intensity all the time; they just go flat.

Brenton Ford:    With this hangout with this podcast I was going to make it about the similarities between running and swimming because I think there is a lot to be said for the similarities there. One of the things is consistency if you are not in the pool three times a week then you are just going to lose the feel of the water so if you can get in there 3-5 times a week then you will be able to maintain that feel of the water and continue to improve; same things with your run I guess.

Bobby McGee:    I am sure you see this problem all the time, people that come to swimming in their mid 20’s or mid30’s or even mid 40’s and they now come to swimming and just take so long if they even get there to have a feel of the water. The same thing is true of the run; my good friend Libby Bower who is head of triathlon Canada High Performance she is always saying she doesn’t want the kids away from the water for more than 24 hours. Because of the intense nature of running and the recovery requirements we tend to stay away from our running a lot more. Similarly athletes who haven’t grown up in endurance running haven’t got the skill and we know that duration builds fitness in running. However frequency builds skill if you have an unskilled running someone who is not smooth who runs with a lot of power then they need a lot of frequency and I say if you are running 4-5 hours a week or 3-4 hours a week and you are doing 4 hour runs to achieve that you are probably better off running 6 times for 45 minutes or something like that. It is exactly the same as swimming if they are not skilled as runners they need frequency they need opportunities to do that. They can’t run too long because then their form starts to deteriorate as they fatigue both pastorally and centrally. When they fatigue then their run form goes off and they are habituating bad run form. You go to these long course races you actually see people running far worse than when they are actually competing in an Olympic distance triathlon because they are strong enough to stay in some kind of a form in the Olympic distance race but in the long course race they just fall apart. They lose all those advantages of their fitness because they have lost their form.

Brenton Ford:    I was watching one of your videos and you were talking about the forward lean of running. Not coming from a running back ground I have never really heard that you should be leaning forward and to what angle. Can you talk a bit about the forward lean or running and what that has to do with your speed and cadence and things like that?

Bobby McGee:    The forward lean sometimes gets a bad name because a lot of lifetime runners don’t even think about it they just get into that posture quite naturally. Some of the elite runners they look quite upright but the whole thing with the forward lean is to increase your opportunity to maintain your pivot. People need to lean from the ankles, they need to loosen up in the soleus which is the lower calf muscle in the achilles tendon in order to do that. It is much more of a connection of having your spine be in neutral. In other words if your shoulders are too arched back in that fashion then that makes you upright. If you chest if too far down and you are bent at the hips that is no good as well, you need to get yourself up into that position there. If you are leaning too far forward for your speed and your feet are coming into the ground from the back and kicking dirt forward when you’re running then you are leaning forward too much. It is basically just like an athletic position; a tennis player being with weights on the balls of their feet with their shoulders hanging slightly ahead of their hips and their hips hanging slight ahead of their ankles. If they stopped pushing down with their feet they would take a little step and a little stumble forward. It is just a creation of a forward momentum and it comes by aligning the chest; just bringing the chest down in the front so that the little forward momentum is created. It is not a forward lean that is difficult to maintain, puts pressure on the lower back and causes you to over rotate it is a very subtle; it is called dynamic balance but it is really a very subtle static imbalance. It is just a little fall forwards so if you were running along and you stumbled and fell you would fall forward you wouldn’t fall straight down.

Brenton Ford:    If you go to your website which is BobbyMcGee.com I think there is a good video on the home page that talks a bit more about it. If anyone is looking for a more visual way to explain it then you there is a good video on the home page there.

The other thing is mid foot and heel striking; again another new concept for me as a swimmer. Can you talk a little bit more about which types of runners are heel strikers, which runners are mid foot strikers and what is the difference and advantages and disadvantages I guess of each of them?

Bobby McGee:    Right now with the event of Lieberman’s study on African runner habitually runners and the book born to run. Fore foot running and mid foot running has become a sexy concept and a lot of shoe companies have jumped on the bandwagon and a lot of minimalist or barefoot running type shoes have come into play. The truth is that changing somebody’s mechanics that dramatically and highly risky and probably 100% of age groupers it is not a good idea to suddenly become a mid foot striker. I think that doing some barefoot running, running around on some grass or synthetic turf to strengthen your feet for 5-10 minutes before or after a running session might be a good idea. To change your gait that dramatically is not such a good idea. The big thing is if you are a heel striker to make sure that you are an effective heel striker and if you are a mid foot striker be an effective mid foot striker. An effective heel striker lands on the outside of the heel and then the foot roles like a partial wheel straight onto the ground and slightly inwards. It is slightly that a way so that it loads the point of pressure over here. If there is a two beat strike, if the heel hits the ground then immediately after that you hear that 4 foot slap down to the ground that is not such a good idea that can lead to shin splints and all sorts of problems. What happens with the heel striker that has too much support in their shoe (this is why you will notice the drop in running shoes has got a lot lower in the heel than it used to be) the foot decelerates to quickly inwards as opposed to transitioning forward and off the middle toes.
Then with the mid foot striker the big problem is with the bike in triathlon that they achilles and the calf muscles gets too tight and then the athlete lands on the mid foot. As their foot passes underneath them they are unable to put their heel down on the ground because the tissue is too tight. Then the tissue has to hold the heel off the ground for the entire stance phase of the gait and that is not a good idea either. If you are a mid foot striker you are basically landing just behind this bone here and then the heel is rolling down and then you are coming up the foot. The heel just kisses the ground and there is just a little support phase there.

Those things are almost subservient to what your shin angle is doing. If this is your foot over here and you are hitting the ground that shin angle should be vertical or even landing slightly forward if I am travelling in that direction. As soon as that shin angle when the shoe starts to bear weight is leaning backwards like that now you are starting to develop trouble for the ankle, the heels, the knee, the hip and lower back and so on. It is more of a question of getting your foot underneath you; what impacts the ground first is a little less important. We find that a lot of top road runners and especially triathletes would probably benefit from being heel strikes just because their calf muscles work so hard when they are on the bike.

Brenton Ford:    I am curious as to what you think a lot of running injuries come down to? Is it technique? Is it the type of shoes? Or a combination?

Bobby McGee:    The largest percentage of running injuries are knee related and then ankle related. I think it comes down to in triathlon probably most of the injuries are sourced on the bike. I am not a fan of a very small pedal especially if you are an athlete with bigger feet. If you have a size 11 or a size 12 and the pedal is on a very a narrow part of the foot it is too easy for the foot to do that when you are pedalling. Whatever your tendency is that could create problems so I like a nice broad pedal that supports the foot well. I think a lot of times pushing heavy gears, low revs on the bike those things all set us up and then the running exposes the injury that has been created on the bike. I think that footwear might be problematic but I think if you took an actual cross section of the community that footwear has actually made it possible for people to run more than they would have been able to run without a slightly more technical shoe.

Brenton Ford:    Is there something that you look for in a shoe? Are there shoes that you tend to avoid?

Bobby McGee:    As a general rule of thumb I would just say you want a good bit of room in the front of the show. You want at least a thumb of room in the front of the shoe so that when you are doing triathlons and you’re running downhill and you’re putting your shoes on and not lacing them very effectively because you are in a hurry to get your shoes on. You need a little bit of room in the front of that shoe.

The second thing is chose the least amount of shoe that works for you. If you need a little bit of support then it is clear that you need a little bit of support and you are over phonating not just normally phonating then a little bit of help from a shoe works.
If you have been getting injuries because the shoe is up to high at the back try a little low heel. I wouldn’t go from a structured shoe to a minimalist show in one go it would be disastrous. There is no specific model or even specific type of shoe that I recommend. Probably from a footwear standpoint with triathletes you tend to buy a lot of equipment anyway they might not be changing their shows often enough. We talk about a shoe having 500km before their EPA is blown I would say with the average triathlete I would probably change their shoe more often especially if there is an imbalance. If you put your shoe up on a shelf like this and you look at the back of the shoes and they are standing this way or that it is probably time to get rid of those shoes anyway.

Brenton Ford:    One of the guys that I coach did the Ironman Melbourne yesterday he was talking to me about the walk run method for people who are doing quite long triathlons or running events. I had never heard of that before but the walk run method is where you have a long event, it might be a marathon and you are going to walk for part of it and run for part of it. I thought it was a strange concept but it is done by the top guys and top girls and should be done by age groupers as well. Can you talk a bit about that?

Bobby McGee:    The run walk has bought a lot of success to a lot of different levels of athletes. With the elite it is a really good way to move up their volume and for a beginner who comes from a swimming background or a non sport background and immediately has to deal with that kick in the butt feeling of getting off the bike and then trying to run; it works for all the communities across the way.

For example a beginner would get a lot further and much less problems with injuries and fitness much quicker if they just took on a walk a minute, run a minute. If you are a better athlete and you are doing these longer races you can do anything from 6 minutes of running and 30 seconds of walking all the way up to say 9-10 minutes of running with 1 minute of walking. The best way to test it is to just go out on a longish run that you typically do and just run it normally and see what your time is and try to equate the conditions. Then next week go out there and run it with a walk run interval and just choose an interval. Maybe run for 9 minutes walk for 1 minute and see if you come up with a better time. The idea is not for you to run slower during the 9 minute section you are running slightly faster and in the walking section also very important is that you don’t dawdle. You really hoof it and you walk at a good pace. It is not that difficult to get around 35 minutes if you are walking for a 5km. That kind of pace you are not losing a lot and the thing too with the walk it should have a much higher cadence than what we are used to walking at. The arms should be up and it should be very reminiscent of how we run so that the transition is not so dramatic and we don’t lose our rhythm. It is an  absolute no brainer and the only thing that stands between people having tremendous success with a walk run method and insisting that they try and run the whole way is their ego. They just don’t want to be seen walking at the beginning of the race.

If you pro-actively walk sometimes I will take an ironman athlete and say to him have you ever run the entire marathon? And when you get to the end of the marathon are you getting kudos for the fact that you did a 6 hour marathon and you ran the whole way? Or would you want to go 5 hours and run walk it? It is that dramatic, it is a good way to build volume over and above that 10-15% rule it is a great way. if people walk/run they feel so much better the next day, they can also walk/run for so much longer than they could just run for. It is vascularly better for them, it is easier to digest your food and get your liquids downs. It is much easier to keep your pacing up.

Brenton Ford:    That’s a great point. If someone has hit a plateau with their run speed or run times that is something they should definitely consider trying. As you said it is a no-brainer so just go out and try and see what your results are like.

Bobby McGee:    People forget that when we started interval training in the 20’s, the idea was if you want to run a mile a little faster you can only run a mile that fast. At some stage you have to fractionalise the distance and run a little bit more than the distance in chunks and then run that little bit faster and then put it together in a faster mile. All the walk/run method is interval training for endurance athletes. It is not easy for people to run 42.2km if you fractionalise that they are able to run a little bit faster and they also forget they are not standing still during the walk break. It is also not forced on them it is pro-active, they are still moving forward and they catch so many people at the end. As soon as they do one race like that they are sold.

Brenton Ford:    It is such an interesting concept. The furthest I’ve run is a half marathon and I think that would have been a good method to use in the race. I certainly struggled at the end and the last 5km were very slow. With my next long race I will definitely be using it.

Bobby McGee:    Simple rule of thumb if you are going up a hill and you are trying run and someone walks past you, you should be walking too.

Brenton Ford:    I am sure that is one that will stick with people if they are getting passed by someone walking up a hill.
Building strengths; we talked a bit about how important strength is for running. Once you lose your strength and as you call it structural integrity that is when things turn to crap so to speak.

What are some exercises that you get your runners to do to build strength so that they can maintain form towards the end of race?

Bobby McGee:    Very good question. I think as a pre-amble to this, what is important is for people to realise that your foot is on the ground for about a third of a second. It is a very short period of time and no amount of strength work is going to help you maintain integrity in a third of a second because it is just too slow. People have to do strength work in order to be able to do power work. Power work is what you need for your running, obviously your primary muscles in your legs, your quads, your soleus muscles your lower calf muscles, your hamstrings, gluts especially your external rotators the little glut muscles at the top at the back; those need to be not only strong but they need to be powerful. People can progress from doing regular squats, regular single legged squats moving to a little bit more of an explosive power. Maybe doing explosive squats more explosive single legged squats and then even some small hops and small bounds. Lunges are fantastic just start off really cautiously and then build your way through. A lunge is a power move; you step out you carry your full weight, you go down and come back up again. Those kinds of exercises are very important. One of those YouTube clips that you will find too is one of the king exercises that I recommend for runners especially in triathlon. It is the monster walk where they strengthen those external rotator muscles which are so very important to maintain stability when we run.

The last thing is we bike, we go up hilly courses we swim all of these activities massive fatigue our posterior chain our muscles that keep up upright. When those muscles fall when we run, we actually pull our shoulders back and we lose the mechanical advantage. Triathletes must go to a lot of trouble to keep their back strong also keeping their pecks loose at the same time so that they can maintain that postural integrity.

Brenton Ford:    You were saying yesterday that if you haven’t got the structural integrity nothing else matters in terms of your nutrients and what you are taking and that sort of stuff.

Bobby McGee:    It is like a bottle neck, I come from South Africa originally and one of the problems that we had with Cheetahs was that they have a genetic bottle neck. There is not enough genetic material so the species is in danger. You can do all of this lactate threshold training all the tempo training and heat training and prepare yourself for a race you can teach yourself to be a fat burner you can be technically very sound but if your structure; the strength in your groin and in your hip flexors and gluts and your knees and your ankles and your back fails you have no access to all of that fitness. The primary part of running that is so key is that micro second from the time that your foot starts to bear weight until it leaves the ground. If your hip on the opposite side is dropping and your spine is turning into an S and that knee is coming down and you are losing vertical height you are going downwards and you need to gather that all up and bring yourself back up it is going to be a long day in Kona.

Brenton Ford:    Same goes for swimming is if you don’t have the structural integrity to be able to maintain your form towards the end of the race then nothing else really matters.

Bobby McGee:    The swimming guys taught me the concept that you can’t fire a cannon from a canoe.

Brenton Ford:    That’s right. If you look at say a 200m or 400m freestyle, not in the professionals but the lower levels, you will see a huge change in the technique in that last 50m where swimmers start to hit that wall and the piano jumps on their back. You can just see their form go out the window. The guys who finish off strong and do finish at the front end of races they are the guys who are able to maintain their form the whole way through. That is really important in whatever sport you are doing.

Bobby McGee:    You can in running too, those people that are staying on top of the ground and have a little bounce and flick in their step versus those people that are starting to sink into the road and their heads are going up and down and they are dropping their pelvis; you can see it is not necessarily the engine that’s failing its muscle endurance that is costing them.

Brenton Ford:    I have some questions here in the chat pad and I see there must be a limit of 10 people so apologies to people who may not be able to get into the chat pad. We have two questions; the first one is from Alison she has asked What exercises would you have runners do that have issues or injuries with patella tracking or are there any exercises that you would recommend?

Bobby McGee:    For sure. The first thing to remember is that lateral quads, the quad muscles on the outside are much bigger and much stronger than the quad muscles on the inside. They are always going to be dominant especially when you ride the bike they are going to be more dominant and create patella tracking problems. The second thing to remember is that the primary muscle on the inside of the knee, the Vastus Medialis, has its own nerve route and it’s a muscle that can tend to switch off. You have to make sure that muscle is activated and firing and then from a functional standpoint your best bet is those single legged squats and then progressing onto hops to keep that right. Karney tape is a good way to encourage that patella tracking to be correct, in other words if this was your knee and this was the outside of your leg; putting that tape this way around that knee sometimes helps it start tracking and get it firing correctly.

Another thing too is stay very close to your foam roller and does a lot of active release work for your quads and your hip flexors, especially for rectus femoris and that will protect your knee from bending too much and stabilising that patella more.

Brenton Ford:    The foam rollers are brutal but they are good. I have only got onto them in the last 12 months but they can really get stuck into your ITB’s and muscles they are awesome.

Bobby McGee:    Don’t get a wimpy one either; it has to have a piece of PVC pipe inside at least.

Brenton Ford:    I will have to step it up I think. I have another question here; what technique do you recommend on a steep downhill mountain marathon run? What technique do you need to have on a downhill run?

Bobby McGee:    Downhill running is very problematic for people especially if you are more of a heel striker it becomes even more problematic. The idea is to realise that when you are going downhill is not to step out away from the surface but actually to step down the surface; to try and get your foot a little closer to the ground so you are not stepping away and then dropping at increased distance. It also helps a lot if you are doing a long race is to pick your rating up so you bear less weight per step. If you are doing short race like a 5km or  10km off the bike then you might be strong enough to just let go and let momentum take you down the hill and take nice big ranging steps because that is free speed. In the longer races like a mountain marathon as you said you want to take smaller steps, a little shuffle and step down the hill. Try to take it more on a mid forward section when your heel comes down, almost like you want to scrape your foot down the hill and have the sole of your shoe handle the friction rather than hammering your hips and your knees, especially your knee. That is something to look at if you can look at some footage of the great kiwi triathlete Bevan Docherty running downhill there is nothing more to be said. If you watch him run downhill he is about as good as I have ever seen someone run downhill.
Get your hands down and just open your elbow angles a little bit and widen your arms a little bit.

Brenton Ford:    You have also put some video; you have a new program or a course where you are talking more about this sort of stuff and it is going to be a very in-depth course. You have some free videos that people who have joined this and people listening to the podcast can watch these videos and get some more visual demonstrations. For the guys that are on this hangout here you can see the button on the right hand side that says free running videos. You can click that and watch some more videos about Bobby talking about this sort of stuff.

I haven’t had a chance to go through this sort of stuff yet but I am looking forward to doing that after the call.

The other thing is there is a bit of a discount there for people that are on this call who are listening to the podcast later too on Bobby’s upcoming product as well.

Full disclosure I don’t make any money if anyone buys this; I just wanted to interview Bobby on this stuff because firstly I am interested to improve my running but I know that some of the video and some of the stuff that I have got from Bobby’s videos have been that good that I want to share it with the triathletes that do follow the Effortless Swimming stuff.

Thanks so much for being on the call Bobby and I have learnt a lot. I am sure that we will probably do another one of these down the track too because I think they are really good value where people can ask questions. It is not often that you get to learn things from such an experienced coach like yourself. I really appreciate.

I just have another question come through. “You mentioned that running frequency is more important than duration. As an ironman athlete looking to run sub 3, 3.15 marathon, how much threshold training would you recommend?

Bobby McGee:    The problem with threshold training, it is a great question by the way, is not in the training itself but in the definition of training. In ironman I would focus more on what I call the steady state running and also on the principle of specificity. Once you get into those last 4-6 weeks before the race you have to spend a lot of time both in your brick work outs and in other pure run workouts working on exactly the pace that you want to run to get that sub 3 hour run in. They become very important but the duration; a tip that I can give you there is that sometimes the duration leads to de-training because it is hard to recover from temper runs like that. I give my athletes things like 4 x 5km or even 5 x 5km so they do 25km at that intensity and only a 90 second break in-between. Or athletes that are not quite as durable they might do 2km repeat; 10 x 2km repeats, 8 x 2km repeats at that pace with a little bit of a breakdown in-between. I hope that gives you some idea.

I just wanted to say to the folks on the podcast that the website is bobbymcgee.com\runtransformationpreview if they look at that they will be able to get a sense of those free videos and what the course will be like. The course will be three components; running mechanics and drills, run training and then also a section on mental skills.

Brenton Ford:    I am looking forward to this because I am going to get the program and go through because I think it will be very useful. There is a friend of mine who is not a very good runner at all; it was an Australian teams man. He can swim really well but he just can’t run to save his life so he is pretty keen to go through the videos too because he wants to develop his run. You probably have a challenge on your hands there with him but he is really looking forward to it as well.

Bobby McGee:    Nothing gives me more pleasure than getting one of the big guys, one of the Aussie ironmen guys not ironman triathlon but your guys are surf lifesaving ironman try to run fast. I have worked with some of them in the past and it is a joy to see a guy coming in at 100kg running 4 minutes a km it is pretty impressive.

Brenton Ford:    That’s right, it’s a lot of momentum they have there.

Bobby McGee:    Absolutely, especially on the down hills.

Brenton Ford:    Thanks again Bobby I have really enjoyed it and I hope the audience has too. Again go to Bobby’s website, BobbyMcGee.com or the free videos at BobbyMcGee.com\runtransformationpreview and you can get those videos there. I will put the links on the website too on SwimmingPodcast.com and this has been fantastic so thank-you Bobby.

Bobby McGee:    Thank you Brent thanks everybody and thanks for listening in.

Read More

Amazing swimming and fitness podcast

Love, love, love listening to Brenton and his guests. Always learning something new to add to my swim sets with drills or training sets. Also very motivational guests with great tips to add to your fitness routine. I love the stories of the longer distant swims and what’s involved. I’m always smiling after listening to these podcasts!! Thank you so much !!!!



Join the 5 Day Catch Challenge
for Only $10


Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consetetur
sadipscing elitr, sed diam nonumy eirmod tempor

By signing up you agree to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Already have an account? Sign in.

Brenton and Mitch were great to work with at the clinic, Good to get video analysis to work on straight away, practice some new drills and go home knowing what you need to work on.

Alex McFadyen