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10 Tips for a better Triathlon Run split

Runners at 17 km in an Ironman race

Running, after first having to complete a swim and cycle, is very different from just a running race.

To have your best run split in a triathlon will require a very different strategy than that for just a running race.

 

Below is a selection of training tips and racing strategies that you should implement so that you improve your chances of success and have enough energy left to complete the run and cross the line with a smile.

Table of Contents

5 Tips For Training

“Include multiple types of workouts for maximum results”

 

There are many running sessions that you should do in the build-up to your event. Many of them are fun, some of them are tough, and some take priority over others at different times in your preparation.

These key sessions will help you to become a better runner and therefore a better triathlete. Variety in your training sessions will also keep you from stagnating mentally and physically. 

You can read more about training periodisation on the blog.

The 5 Key Running Sessions

Keep in mind that there are many types of running training sessions, but also that you are limited in how many you can do because you also have to train for cycling and swimming.

 

Long Slow Distance Run (LSD)

On an LSD run, you run well below your threshold heart rate or race pace.

 

The idea is to run for an extended time in a low-intensity zone, which keeps the physical impact on the joints and muscles low. During an LSD run, you’re meant to keep moving continuously for the prescribed distance or time. For some, it may mean a combination of running and walking to stay strictly within the low-intensity zone. By running/walking for an extended period, you improve your endurance capabilities. The duration of these sessions can increase over time to further improve your endurance

 

The LSD run is explained in more detail on the blog.

After a good 15 to 20 minute warm-up in Zone 1 (51-60% HR Max), run in Zone 2 (61-70% HR Max) for this session.

Don’t neglect the loosen-down portion of this session. website A very effective training intensity range for your long slow distance is the MAF training zone.

 

Use our free MAF calculator tool website.

 

How do you make sure that you don’t run too fast?

  • — Use a Heart Rate Monitor
  • — Pay attention to your breathing

 

The idea is to run for an extended time in a low-intensity zone, which keeps the physical impact on the joints and muscles low.

 

During an LSD run, you’re meant to keep moving continuously for the prescribed distance or time. For some, it may mean a combination of running and walking to stay strictly within the low-intensity zone. By running/walking for an extended period, you improve your endurance capabilities. The duration of these sessions can increase over time to further improve your endurance.

 

On an LSD run, you run well below your threshold heart rate or race pace.

 

A simple and effective way to judge your intensity is to monitor your breathing.  If you can hold a conversation with a training buddy while running, you are performing the session at the correct intensity.

Tempo Run

A tempo run is a focused and specific endurance run at a higher intensity than your LSD run, but for a shorter duration.

 

During a tempo run, the goal is to maintain an intensity around the top of Zone 3 (75 to 80% of HR Max).

After completing the warm-up of at least 15 minutes building from Zone 1 to the top of Zone 2, the intensity remains the same all throughout the duration of the training session.

Tempo runs are particularly important training sessions in the last 8 to 10 weeks before your “A” race. Tempo run sessions can help to improve your anaerobic threshold; the turning point where you start to cramp up and are no longer able to maintain your pace.

 

Don’t neglect the loosen-down portion of this session.

Interval Training

Interval training sessions are continuous training sessions (no rests) that combine periods of “work” with periods of “recovery”. The work periods are performed at higher intensities than the recovery periods, which are usually performed in Zone 2.

 

Interval Training can be categorised into different three types.

Fartlek

Fartlek is a Swedish word for speed game and that’s exactly what it is: playfully you change your speed throughout fartlek training. These can be structured or unstructured sessions. 

 

Structured Sessions.

After completing the warm-up in Zone 1 and 2, repetitions of “work” in the upper half of Zone 3 followed by “recovery” in Zone 2.

 

Unstructured Sessions.

After completing the warm-up in Zone 1 and 2, you can decide during the session which parts you run at a higher speed and when you run easily. You can decide what speed you want to run and how long you want to stick to that speed. This gives your muscles some extra stimulus. What makes this kind of fartlek training so nice is that you can decide it in an instant, which makes it fun, but also boosts your motivation.

Threshold Intervals

Threshold Intervals are continuous training sessions (no breaks), where you maintain a challenging pace for the work periods and then slow down for the recovery periods

 

Threshold Interval Training is characterised by blocks that are relatively long and have short active recovery periods in between.

 

The intensity zone for the work periods of Threshold Intervals is between 81 and 85 percent of your maximum heart rate. 

The intensity is therefore higher than a Tempo session, but lower than that for “Anaerobic” Interval Training.

“Anaerobic” Intervals

During “Anaerobic” interval training, your aim is to improve your running speed, your overall running form and your tolerance for running with high lactate levels.

 

It’s important to have a good aerobic base ( see periodisation on the website) to work from before you start running these types of interval sessions.

During an “Anaerobic” interval run, your work efforts will be performed between 86 and 92 percent of the Maximum Heart Rate. In between the work efforts, you will have short static rest periods or walks. 

 

You can run your hard efforts based on time or distance. i.e. track work

Strength Training

To improve your running, having a strong body is of no inconsiderable value. The 3 types of strength training you should perform are:

  • General strength training  
  • Sport-specific strength training  
  • Core strength training.

A stronger body is a faster and more injury-resistant body.

 

General Strength Training

General strength training is done by performing exercises that require the use of large and multiple muscle groups.

General strength training does not necessarily mean building huge muscles, but often some muscle growth will occur.

 

Sport-Specific Strength Training

These strength exercises replicate the actions (biomechanics) of your sport to strengthen the whole movement.

 

Core Strength Training

Your core is the link between the upper and lower body. While your sport may focus on one area more than the other, you can benefit by having a solid link between them both. By improving your core stability, you reduce the chances of injuries by helping you maintain good form, and your body will be ready to handle the most intensive running sessions.

Brick Training

Brick training simulates the sensations you will have in a triathlon and is a highly recommended training session to be performed more regularly as your event approaches.

 

The easiest way to do a brick session is to go for a short, medium-paced run of 30 to 40 minutes directly after a long bike ride.

Shorter brick training sessions are the ideal opportunity to test race equipment, race clothing, race nutrition and also different race strategies.

5 Tips for Race Day

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Do A Route Recce

Be familiar with the run course.

 

Know where you will encounter turns and uphills, how many meters of elevation the course has, and which parts of the course are the toughest.

The easiest way to explore the route is to study the race route maps provided by the organiser. You can also go online and explore using Google Maps and Strava segments.

The next best option is to drive the course before a race on the morning before the race.

If you arrive a few days in advance, and the course is not closed, you can complete the whole course or just the key sections on foot or by bike

Have A Pacing Plan

Have a smart and consistent run plan.

 

Try not to start too fast, although it will be tempting to y out of transition and onto the run course, as you will typically start to struggle after a few kilometres.

 

If you have completed a few brick runs after your long bike sessions, you will know how to get through the first 2 to 3 kilometres with “Jelly Legs” until you loosen up and can get into your normal running stride.

 

From your training, you should have a good idea of your current running level.

Take the 5 km TT test if you are not sure. 

Hydrate and Fuel

Hydration and fuelling start when you get on the bike.

 

Your first priority is to replace fuel and water lost in the swim.

Then, you should follow a strict schedule of eating and drinking so that you begin the run as fresh and fuelled as possible.

During the run leg, there will be many aid stations; make good use of those to stay hydrated and fuelled, as well as an opportunity to cool the body.

Focus On You

Stick to your own race plan.

 

While it is exciting and a high-energy environment around the transition area because of the crowd, try not to push beyond your planned pace. A triathlon is long and hard enough, you don’t need to walk the last kilometres because you went too hard at the start.

Smile

Enjoy it!

 

Racing a triathlon is a unique experience, that you will never forget. Especially the last kilometres. If you do use these training and racing tips, you can even finish with a smile and be proud of your performance!