Ben Kanute is a professional triathlete who entered the sport as an 8-year-old, kept at it, and excelled at USAT youth races and then with a triathlon club while in college while representing the United States in world triathlon competitions. Kanute won the Collegiate National Championships at two different distances, qualified for the 2016 Rio Olympics, won second place at the 70.3 Worlds and has won a race at every distance up to and including half-ironman.Beginner Triathlete interviewed Kanute this month, asking his advice for beginners. Although Kanute is known for his cycling prowess, we asked him about running advice. That’s where new triathletes often begin, and Kanute has been mindfully improving his run.We asked Kanute for some general advice for people newly taking up the challenge of triathlon.“For someone who is just starting out, start out with frequency,” he said. “Do one thing every day.”“The biggest mistake that people make, especially triathletes, is we think that more is better all the time; and to just keep going and going, and to go hard.”
Kanute emphasized recovery and rest, noting that soreness seems normal, but untended can lead to injury.“Resting is something that is often overlooked and is very important, especially with something high impact like running.”One way to ensure proper recovery and avoid injuries from running too much too soon is to follow a training plan intended for beginners, such as the “Couch” Training Programs here at Beginner Triathlete, including the Couch-to-Sprint Triathlon plan.
Kanute has faith in athletes’ natural stride and advises against trying to imitate the stride of elite runners. Often their running form has certain characteristics only because they are running extremely fast. Trying to replicate such form by overstriding or running on one’s toes is not advisable for beginning runners who might be moving at a 10-minute mile or 12-minute mile.Having a coach or running expert take video of your stride and point out things to work on is a good idea, he said. “You can critique yourself, but it’s good to have somebody who has worked on run form look at it,” Kanute said. “You might see something that’s wrong, but it’s caused by something else that’s wrong. It’s might be a simple tweak.”
What does a champion triathlete do to warm up? Kanute has the following tips:
Brick runs are when you bike first and then immediately run after your bike workout. Some training plans don’t add brick workouts until the last few weeks, but Kanute advocates doing one every week.“It’s definitely a bit of a learning curve,” he said.“You’re legs feel heavy and you’ll be more fatigued. You may have to pay more attention to form.”“You go from riding at 20mph and you start to run and your proprioception is used to that speed so you start out running faster,” he said. “It’s more getting used to that feeling.”Kanute explained that the hip flexors and other leg muscles can tighten up on the bike.“I take the first 400m to half mile to get my stride back,” he said. “Sometimes it takes half the run to feel ‘normal’ but it's something you just have to roll with.”
This article was produced in partnership with USA Triathlon. USA Triathlon is proud to serve as the National Governing Body for triathlon, as well as duathlon, aquathlon, aquabike, winter triathlon, off-road triathlon and paratriathlon in the United States. Learn more at usatriathlon.org.
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