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Coaches Blog

Bike and Run Skills for Triathletes

Skills training is undervalued and often overlooked but is beneficial and critical in doing the little things right during a race.  Working on biking and running skills can also help prevent injury from bad form and prevent dangerous situations on the bike. 


I recently got together with one of my athletes, Emma Meyers, an elite Paratriathlete preparing to compete at the 2024 Paralympic Games, to practice some of my favorite skills.  Here are a few of the skills I like to include for biking and running, along with short videos displaying these skills in action. 


Bike Skills:  

Check out this video of some bike skills with Emma Meyers and Coach Aaron!


Parking lot skills can be some of the most effective training, especially when using a very diverse parking lot that includes many of the characteristics of a technical bike course. 


The ideal parking lot setup includes slight inclines, declines, off-camber areas, turns with island medians, and 90-degree, 120-degree, and 180-degree turns in both directions. Cones are another great tool for creating custom bike courses in a parking lot and doing weaving exercises.


Here is a list of some of the skills that I like to include in parking lot skills training and some further descriptions.  


  • Varied Turn Angles:  60, 90, 120 and 180-degrees

  • Varied Turning Direction: Right and Left

  • Controlling speed and setup Entering Turn: Turns on inclines/declines

  • Gearing in and out of turns

  • Standing out of turns

  • Weaving through cones for bike handling

  • Awareness of turns on varied surfaces: blacktop, cement, gravel, wet pavement, etc


A few more pointers on some of the skills listed above include working on counter steering through turns and when it is best to pedal through a turn vs. putting the inner leg up.  Knowing when to stand and when to sit and having the correct gearing for standing out of turns is essential to maintaining speed and perhaps even making a little move on your competition. 


With weaving through cones, it is important to adjust the cones and move them closer and closer as you gain confidence to increase the technical complexity and balance on the bike.  


Run Skills:  



Run skills, including running drills, are commonplace. Incorporating these run skills and drills along with things like tire pulling, speed ladder, and metronome use is not as common but very effective. Here are some of the skills that I had Emma do during this session.  


  • Tire Pulls (Harness must be at Chest and Weight is Moderate)

  • Metronome Work: Audible beep for synchronizing run cadence

  • Speed Ladder  


A few more pointers on the skills include the importance of incorporating all drills and skills in combination with running.  Incorporating running at Tempo or race pace, combined with these skills, will significantly impact race performance. 


For the tire pull, I can’t emphasize enough the importance of the harness being across the chest and pulling the runner up into an upright, tall posture. 


With the metronome, increasing the cadence over time and not increasing the cadence too quickly is essential.  A cadence of 180 steps per minute is typically considered the optimal rate, but realize that this may not be the optimal rate for all runners.  Lastly, there are many run drills one can do with the speed ladder. 


Some of my favorites include walking with marching, A Skips, B Skips, High Knees, Quick feet in each box, and Side stepping with Quick Feet.  


Conclusion:

In conclusion, don’t forget to work on your bike and run technical skills.  Think about looking outside the box for more creative and innovative ways to work on these skills. No matter which skills you decide to incorporate into your training, always make sure to do them in combination with the full-fledged activity at or near race pace to have the most impact!

 

Aaron Scheidies is a USAT Level 1 Certified Coach and licensed Physical Therapist. A graduate of Michigan State University with a degree in Exercise Physiology, Aaron has coached World Champion Paratriathletes as well as Ironman World Championship qualifiers. Aaron is an 11-time World Paratriatlhon Champion and has set the World’s fastest time for anyone with a disability at both the Olympic (1:57:24) and Ironman 70.3 distances. (4:09:54).

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