Multi-sport athlete Braden Currie is one of the most respected names in the world of multi-sport and adventure racing. He is a World Champion, a Red Bull athlete, a NZ and Asia Pacific XTERRA Champion and the NZ Olympic distance, Long Distance and Ultra Distance Triathlon Champion.   

Pushing his body to its limits on a daily basis is part of his journey, but he is also highly motivated to investigate all of the many nuances of every aspect of his training. Part of that is the finer details of his run training.

…the key thing for me moving forward is that I am able to stay healthy and strong, so that I can progressively whittle down the final 1 percent gain that I am vying for.

Q. What inspired you to want to look at your running more closely? 

A. At Kona this year, I really struggled on the run. I felt that I was out of rhythm and I faded a lot in the back half of the race. This hadn’t happened in my previous marathons, but I also know that my running pace is normally reflected by what’s happening in the race, rather than any predetermined pacing strategies. Everyone knows that I normally go out hard, and most of the time I can hold that pace. I know from my own experience and because everyone tells me, that you can’t race Kona that way. But it’s unlikely I will ever give up entirely on my race by feel strategy.

However, the key thing for me moving forward is that I am able to stay healthy and strong, so that I can progressively whittle down the final 1% gain that I am vying for. This year’s Kona gave me the confidence that I am in the game and now it’s onto the process of refinement. This is not a process I am familiar with. I have always raced, because I enjoy  the challenge of pushing by myself, which has meant for an exciting seven years as a pro athlete. I’m not sure how many years I will end up racing, and I have always said I’m here for a good time, not a long time. I don’t imagine myself being that athlete who is still pushing the limits of age in his 40s. I’ve got plenty of other things I want to do in life, but while I am this close I am going to give it everything. 

First stop is how to ensure I don’t micro tear every ligament in my feet after a marathon, which is my normal practice.This is the main reason I booked in at the AUT Sports Performance Clinics. I wanted to look at my shoe choice and whether I could go to a more cushioned supportive shoe without losing performance value.

Q. What were the key directives for the testing at AUT?

A. The goal was to understand and thereby adjust how the forces of foot strike were affected by a number of different shoe options. The shoe’s I chose were all shoes I would be happy with racing a marathon. While we were there we also decided to look at our my cadence and changes to cadence affected those forces.

Q. How many shoes did you test and how were they?

A. I tested three pairs of shoes. They were all race specific shoes. They were shoes I could see myself racing in and not just training shoes. Retrospectively I should have also tested my training shoes, as that would have been interesting too.

The shoes that I tested were the Asics Tartherzeal, the Asics Noosa tri and the Asics’s DS Racers. A few years back before I started working with Asics I went to a guy who was recommended to me in Colorado and tested all the brands and styles of shoes I liked the look of. Asics always seem to come out on top for me when it came to road running.

Q. A. What were the outcomes?

The key outcomes were the shoes (The Asics Tartherzeals) that I have chosen as my race shoe for many years, were in fact the best shoe for the job. These shoes resulted in the least amount of impact force on foot strike for me. This was great to figure out, but the biggest development learning was the effect of increasing my cadence and how that changed my running forces. By changing my cadence by a small amount (taking it from 80-90) made quite a lot of difference in regard to overall impact on my feet/body. This was hugely significant for me. I have always trained light for running. I have hypermobile joints (lots of flexibility) and as a result my ligaments take a hammering from higher volume and higher impact. I can get away with trail running due to the lesser impact, but trail running might be a contributor to the lower cadence that I generally revert to when I am racing a marathon. End result is that my racing shoes won’t change, but my cadence will.

Q. How are you going to use the knowledge that you got from the report at AUT in your training moving forward?

A. Cadence is something we will put a lot of focus on this year in every session. I believe that this commitment to change will allow me to increase my run volume. I understand that part of the challenge of increasing cadence will be the neural adjustment by body will start to make and the changing activation patterns for the key muscles I use when running.

My team and I will also look to integrate strength and conditioning with focus on supporting activation through the posterior chain, and allowing me to adapt to the change to higher cadence at a more efficient rate and allow me to hold that cadence.  My gut feeling is that my running is going to improve a lot this year, but a key thing is that I can walk after I finish a race and get back into training faster without ripping myself to shred’s. Live and learn. It’s good to evolve. I have never minded the trash and bash style of training and racing, but if I want to be here for a good time and a longer time, I just might have to change. ν