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Are you as good as you think you are?

Updated: Nov 2, 2020

Could Cycling be your Running downfall?  

| A B I L I T Y |

Recognition of your true ability can be a tough realisation. Learn to live with it. Learn to train with it. Thrive with it. 


It’s Josh here.

Ever wondered why your running isn’t as good in racing as it is in training?

Why can’t you translate those breakthrough training sessions at the back end of a triathlon?

A few questions to ask yourself could be;

Are you being realistic with where your true running ability is?

Is your cycling holding your running back?

Now, I’m sure many of you have been in this position before... I know I have. You’ve trained day in day out, having breakthrough run sessions, beating or keeping with training partners in hard runs, but when it comes to race day, you just aren’t able to replicate the paces you put out in training or keep with those you usually do. It’s frustrating to say the very least.

What’s the reason for this?

There are a few. Let’s begin with your realistic run ability. Without getting overly scientific, different people have different sporting profiles... simply put, we all have a sporting profile which is on a spectrum of aerobic to anaerobic (its more complex than this). If you’re further towards an anaerobic profile and therefore have a larger ‘top end’ or ‘anaerobic capacity’ then you may be able to ‘over achieve’ in training. This is because you have more reserves to go to during hard training which usually involves interval training (an opportunity to recover and ‘recharge’ that top end). Having the ability to do this could mean that you are overtraining and over estimating your true running ability and thresholds.

You can only really fully understand this having had testing and a sporting profile, but its essential to understand what sort of specific training you need in order to make what you do more productive. The same can be applied to cycling and swimming.

Now, this is how that applies to a race;

Your ‘true threshold’ is roughly what you can sustain for up to an Olympic distance triathlon. So your individual Swim / Bike / Run thresholds .. if it were a time trial.. one of the fastest ways of completing the race would be to do all three disciplines at those thresholds as you can’t physically go above these thresholds for that period of time. If you are weak on the bike or not as strong as you think you are... i.e. you’ve over trained due to false presumptions on athlete profiling etc. then you will have ‘over-biked’ and therefore potentially been over your aerobic threshold. If you consider the fact that you can’t physically complete the race at a net above threshold... then you have to run below your ‘true threshold’ during the run.

... On top of all of that.. if your ‘true threshold’ on the run is also not as good as you thought it was from training, then you’re really going to suffer / run slower than you thought you would.

I’ve focused primarily on the ‘anaerobic profile’ here. This is due to the fact that the more aerobic you are, the less of an ability you have to over train, as you won’t have access to as much of that ‘anaerobic capacity’ or ‘top end’ to help facilitate higher speeds and power etc. This often (but not always) means that those with this profile can be seen to replicate their training performances in races... frustrating the rest of us....

It’s not all bad news. The more of an idea you have of your true ability from testing and longer rep sessions, the more realistic your race targets will be and more satisfaction you will get out of training and racing. This will lead to a higher completion rate within training and you will see bigger improvements in races too! Having that anaerobic ability can also be a big positive, especially in shorter races such as draft legal sprint and Olympic distances where you may need a lot of power out of corners etc. Ideally it would be great to have a combination of both aerobic and anaerobic ability... a hybrid if you will, giving you the best of both worlds.

We will look at how an anaerobic profile could be very beneficial in a later post, but for now, keep working hard and try and establish where your true abilities (Thresholds) within each of the disciplines are. If you want help with this, just shoot me a message and I’d be happy to talk you through how we can help, or how you can self analyze this for yourself.

Some of this will make sense, others not so much. Again, if you want further explanations just get in touch. Our great community is only here to help you.

Until next time. 


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