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  • Writer's pictureMatt Fisher

The never-ending search for speed

So, what’s happened since my last incomprehensible rant? Well, I ran my slowest competitive 10km for many years (accepting that it was at least three years since I ran a 10km without a bike in front of it anyway) which finally made my realize that I either need to sort my running out or accept that I’m crap at it and go do something more fun (like killing myself – hopefully not literally – on a bicycle) instead.

Originally, the Eastleigh 10km had been intended as a pre-season test to see where I was at. Unfortunately, the snow in February put paid to that and I already knew all-too-well what poor shape I was in by the time we lined-up for the rescheduled race on Fathers’ Day.

Long story short, I missed my sub-40 minute target and didn’t really get the best out myself on the day, even allowing for my reduced run fitness / speed. I think the lack of practice had made me forget how to pace a run or really push myself to the limit. I played it way too safe.

So, it’s crunch time. Either get some kind of return to run form (by which I primarily mean sub-19 5km and sub-40 10km) by the end of the year or call it a day on triathlon and duathlon. Not a sob story, just what it is. The run is such an important part of triathlon racing that you just can’t afford to be crap at it (not in the same way that poor swimmers can).

I feel the need…

Having not tinkered with the position on my Giant Trinity time trial bike since taking delivery early last year (I was getting PBs and it felt pretty good), inevitably the urge to tweak takes over and as people start saying things like “you’d be faster if…”, you start to listen.

I’ve never been comfortable with proper ‘head down’ riding – call me a pussy, but I kinda like being able to see the road ahead! – but I felt that I could probably get my head lower and out of the wind. One way to achieve that might be to change the angle of my elbow pads and forearms to adopt something like the ‘praying mantis’ position. The idea being that it might allow me to ‘shrug’ my shoulders a little more and tuck my head in.

Martyn Harris of Raceware Components let me know about some work he’s started doing with Drag2Zero and suggested he was working on some new parts that might help.

Essentially, he added a 12-degree angled riser to the tribar stack, effectively turning my 40-degree tribars into 52-degree ones. The angled riser – plus the carbon D2Z bespoke elbow pads – also should make the forearm both more comfortable and more aerodynamic as the pad is angled, increasing the contact patch with the arm.

So far, I’ve only had a couple of rides and it’s fair to say it’s going to take some getting used to. I can feel a little discomfort in my shoulders and triceps, but I think it’s worth persevering a little more.

Giant Trinity
Testing the new position on the Giant Trinity

I’ll get to see if a) I can hold the position at race effort and b) if it makes any difference in terms of aerodynamics tomorrow night on the familiar local H10/3 10-mile time trial route (was supposed to be a 25-mile but changed due to roadworks).

Of course, the next test will be running off the bike. A few people have commented that the new position looks too aggressive for triathlon, so I guess we’ll see on Sunday when I compete at a local sprint triathlon. If my run’s even worse than normal, then maybe we’ll need to go a little less aggressive on the TT position (or just focus on TTs!).

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