Finally, onto the run. In this section the biggest thing I learned was that the majority of forces I have tostruggle with while runningare not horizontal, despite the fact that I am running forwards. The majority of forces are vertical. Studies done on elite runners show that their vertical displacement is less than 7.5cm from the ground on each stride. That’s about three inches. Next time you go run, take a note of how high you step each time, and then realize that for every little bit higher you step, you are forced to deal with far more force on the return to earth. That means you’re going to tire your legs out more and more and that will increase the amount of contact time on the ground. And this final part is very important - the higher you go in the air, the more energy you need to expend landing, decelerating, accelerating, and taking off from the ground again.
The solution to this is to run at a cadence of 180-190 steps per minute. Studies on this show that it decreases contact time on the ground by 32%, reduces vertical force displacement by 76%, and increases leg stiffness (how efficiently your legs are working in terms of absorbing and then redirecting the energy to keep you moving forward) by 100%.
The takeaway from the entire book is that pacing becomes important from the moment you get in the water. Swim too fast and risk slower times on the bike and run. Ride too fast and risk tired legs on the run. The use of a power meter at all distances beyond a sprint race will help to ensure you leave T2 as fresh as possible.
Overall, I thought Faster was a great read. It’s given me a lot to think about in terms of my own training. I think that any triathlete who is either racing for a front of the pack finish or just working to be the best they can be would enjoy this book immensely. It puts complicated science in terms that are easy to understand and then links it back to purchasing decisions. This is probably the best thing about the entire book. Triathlon can be an expensive sport, and people often feel like they need the latest and greatest to compete, but that isn’t the case as the Gourley explains quite clearly via research and science. Not only that but he has a great sense of humour and takes the boringness out of what could be an incredibly dry topic.