The final leg of an Ironman triathlon — a painful 26.2-mile marathon run — is undoubtedly the most loathsome and horrific portion of the race. After the swim and several hours of biking, most athletes are beat up and physically drained at the start of the run, and the end is only then just barely in sight.
To prepare for this run to end all runs, I cross-trained all summer long with trail running and orienteering. I also hit the treadmill at the gym for sprint sessions five days a week. Key gear included shoes from Asics Corp. and Brooks Sports Inc. and body lubrication products from Genesis Pharmaceutical Inc. and Squeaky Cheeks.
On my feet, I ran with the Asics GEL-Komodo shoes ($100, www.asicsamerica.com) for most training days. These supportive runners are great for pounding pavement or treadmill tracks, as the insole and footbed are comfy and the heal area of the shoe contains four individual gel pods for shock absorption.
For sprint training, I wore the Brooks Racer ST 2 shoes ($80, www.brooksrunning.com), which are lightweight running flats made for distances ranging from 5 kilometers up to a marathon. These are the shoes I will use during the Ironman. Compared to the Asics GEL-Komodo shoes, the Racer ST 2 shoes are much less supportive and cushy. But they are designed for speed not support, and at around 9 ounces per shoe they weigh about a third less than an average pair of running shoes.
Clothing should be light, breathable and completely unrestrictive for running. During training I’ve been using apparel made by Brooks Sports, including the Element Notch Shorts ($38), which are polyester short-shorts with a built-in mesh liner like a swimsuit (meaning you do not have to wear underwear). They do a good job moving moisture away from the skin and are quite light and minimal in all aspects, so chafing has not been a problem. On top, I’ve been using the Brooks Pulse T ($44), an airy polyester shirt. It is unique in that it has a micro mesh knitted pattern over the base fabric in strategic areas to aid the movement and evaporation of sweat.
Some people might think my emphasis on lubrication is a bit silly. But bad chafing is a No. 1 issue for me on long runs. Because of this, I liberally use Hydropel sports ointment ($13, www.genesispharm.com) on my feet and Squeaky Cheeks powder ($6, www.squeakycheeks.com) in my shorts. Since I started using these products about a year ago, blisters and skin chafing have pretty much become a thing of the past.