From an email that I wrote:
I'm including a link to an article that is fairly succinct and kind of sums up where I am with my run fitness. I did a lot of work this summer to pull my run form together. Now I run with better form but since that requires more fitness than running with sloppy form where I could ambulate in whatever manner I choose for a nearly indefinite period, I have taken a big step back in the volume that I seem to be able to tolerate. Since, at present, I am not letting my form drop when I get overly fatigued, I run out of gas and end up at a walk. I suspect this is still preferable to the alternative since it keeps the issue firmly in the realm of a conditioning problem. I have seen a big dropoff in my cycling and swim fitness too, but those are more ingrained and less taxing on the body so it's not quite as apparent.
When you look at my races (female 35-39) and see a great bike split (what it doesn't show is that bike was 1st OA as well) followed by a sad run split, don't fall into the trap of thinking that you are seeing an over-expenditure on the bike. Rather, that is simply where my run is relative to my bike. My post bike runs are often very similar to my open run times. There is a much bigger difference between my tri bike output(all<21mph avg) and my TT results (my only real TT was a very short, relatively flat race where I avg'd 30.5!) From the beginning of my riding, I have always been a top performer on the bike. It has actually been a challenge to bring my handling skills up in line with the speeds I was capable of producing... and to be fair, they are still lagging behind.
Over the course of the last year, I saw dramatic gains in the run for the time I was healthy enough to work on it... about 8 mos. I did a 5K in August a week before the BG race and finished in 28:56. That was my best 5K time ever with an improvement of over 5 mins on my old PR. It was also an improvement of nearly 10 mins over the same course two years ago. Four years ago, I was running 39 min 5Ks. Five years ago I struggled to maintain a 14:00/mi jog for four minutes and at this point last year, I had a torn achilles and couldn't run a step... so I think this is all relative. It doesn't help that I have sustained as many major injuries as I have years of running experience and each of those resulted in long (6 month) layoffs from running or that the process has been spread over a time when I have managed to take 96 lbs off my frame.
My point is... I don't think that my running is really that out of place for someone who has walked the road I have walked. There is so much room for improvement but really, it is probably great progress, all things considered. The distortion of expectation comes from the fact that my swim background lets me be semi-competitive and from day one (well, technically day 3. Days 1 & 2, I was figuring out how to turn and clip out), I have been a freak on a bike. I have actually had pro's tell my that I had freakish ability for the limited background that I had but I am not the only freak in my family so there may be some good genetics happening. (Incidentally, I am not saying that I am that stellar.. only that I perform at a much higher level than my fitness and experience indicate I should.) My run is probably a better indicator of my actual fitness level than my bike and fat (oh, I do mean fat) people with no endurance background should not go out in their first race and end up 1st in their div (despite getting lost and adding nearly 4 miles in a sprint race) on the bike. Honestly, the bike probably distorts the picture more than anything.
The point of this rambling? I lost a lot of fitness when I was sick/injured but that is not a shock and I am still running better than I was. I haven't lost all of last years gains, by any means. If I just look at this as a "where I am at" issue, it's really not a bad picture. All things considered, my run may never catch up with my bike but if you look at the run as the real indicator (and the bike as a bonus), I have still made steady, respectable progress over the course of my "career"... even though I am not as far along. Rather, I am right where I should be and in a good position to make a lot of progress this year.
PS. I am not telling you this so much as telling myself. You just got cc'd on the thought process.
"Only one who devotes himself to a cause with his whole strength and soul can be a true master. For this reason mastery demands all of a person." -Albert Einstein
Hmmm. I have always judged my abilities based off my bike performance. If I shift the view to my run performance, I see an entirely different picture. I see someone who runs reasonably well within the parameters of her peers and is right where she should be given the history. I also see someone who's swim performance is in line with her running given the differences in experience. I think that looking at my bike performance skews the view, as that appears to be something of an outlier. In a way, it is kind of nice to look at things this way. It makes the bike a bonus to the run's baseline rather than the run a failure by comparison the bikes baseline.
The truth is I have no right to perform the way I do on a bicycle. I haven't earned it. I didn't train for it. I don't have years of anything pedal related in my background. I just took to it naturally... like a duck to water... and had a very high starting point. All three sports have improved substantially with the run making the most gains (for hours trained) but also having the lowest starting point. I have seen the least improvement in the swim but then all those large early gains happened decades ago. This run focused might be the healthiest mindset going forward.