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Sprint Triathlon

Sprint Triathlon Training and More!

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Sprint Triathlon

Sprint Triathlon

Triathlons used to be the domain of elite athletes. Not anymore. More than 1 million people stepped up to a triathlon starting line last year—37 percent of them women, according to USA Triathlon. “Triathlons have taken over the reins from marathons as the new personal challenge,” says Barrie Shepley, Canada’s former Olympic and National Triathlon Team coach.

It’s no mystery why: The swim-bike-run combo combats workout boredom and practically guarantees weight loss. Plus, the popular sprint distance (half-mile swim, 12-mile bike, and 3.1-mile run) eliminates intimidation. Just be forewarned: The feeling of accomplishment coupled with body-sculpting effects can be addictive!

Why Tri?

Watch any triathlon and you’ll see lean legs, flat abs, and sculpted arms whizzing by—all thanks to the one-two punch of endurance and resistance exercise. “Conditioning your body to plug away at three back-to-back disciplines builds muscle endurance,” says Lesley Mettler, a triathlon coach in Seattle.

“The resistance comes from pushing yourself through water, which is thicker than air, and cycling up hills or into wind. Triathlon training is very balanced—it’s whole-body training.”

And it shows. When you focus exclusively on one sport, you often end up strong in some areas and soft in others. Triathletes get body benefits from all three sports and are lean and fit from head to toe, says exercise physiologist Shannon Grady, owner of Go! Athletics. Plus, the constant cardio can result in serious weight loss.

But all that cardiovascular action is good for more than just dropping a few pounds: A recent study in Radiology found that triathletes have larger, healthier hearts and a 17 percent lower heart rate (fewer beats means your ticker is so strong it doesn’t have to work as hard) than other athletes.

Your joints, tendons, and muscles will thank you too. “Overuse injuries like tendinitis and stress fractures often result from weakness elsewhere in the body,” explains Jordan Metzl, M.D., a sports medicine specialist at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City and an eight-time Ironman finisher.

“Because of the amount of cross-training, triathletes build stronger muscles around all of their joints, which reduces their injury risk,” he says. “Think of it as building scaffolding around a building.”

A stronger body and better health starts with this step-by-stroke-by-pedal plan.

SWIMMING
There’s a reason even fit women end up hanging onto the side of the pool when they first start doing laps. “In swimming, you use every single one of your muscles to stay afloat and work through the tension of the water,” says Pete McCall, exercise physiologist with the American Council on Exercise. “And since those muscles need oxygen and fuel, your body is asked to work harder.”

But have no fear! Once you get your feet (and the rest of you) wet, you’ll build endurance fast and quickly learn to love this soothing, no-impact workout that burns more than 500 calories an hour.

Technique 101

Breathe. “It’s the single most important thing to master in swimming,” says Shepley. A steady inhale/exhale rhythm keeps you relaxed (like in yoga) while increasing your speed and eliminating the need to gasp for air every couple of strokes. Breathe out of your nose while your face is in the water and, on every other stroke, tilt your head to the side, halfway out of the water, and take in oxygen.

Once you’re comfortable with that, breathe in on every third stroke to practice getting air on both sides—a handy skill in open water since waves may break on your favored side.

Roll with it. Rotate your shoulders, torso, and hips with each stroke to help you glide through the water. “If you rotate your body from side to side—rather than swimming flat—you’ll move like a torpedo,” says Shepley. In other words, fast as hell.

Kick sparingly. Save your legs for the bike and run, and rely mostly on your arms to pull you through the water. This prevents lactic acid from building up in your legs, which in turn keeps your legs from tiring so they’re ready when you really need them. During training, squeeze a pool buoy between your legs as you swim to practice using your upper body.

Do It!

At first, aim to swim 250 meters once or twice a week. If you’re sucking wind (or water), break it into intervals of 25 meters (usually one length of a pool) of nonstop swimming with 20 seconds of rest in between to catch your breath. During the final month, make one session each week an open-water swim, if possible, and practice sighting by looking up every six to eight strokes to confirm you’re on course.

Start each workout with 10 to 15 minutes of the following warmup drills. These three exercises from Shepley will refine your stroke and help you generate more power so you can learn to glide through the water effortlessly. More at How to Train for a Sprint Triathlon

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Sprint Triathlon

Tips for Your First Sprint Triathlon

“Tips for your first Sprint Triathlon. Read them below now!”

Sprint Triathlon

Sprint Triathlon

Here are some tips for beginners preparing to complete their first sprint triathlon.

Race Week
Workouts: During race week, you want to continue keeping the number of workouts high, while reducing the duration of workouts. You should continue doing speed work (such as strides or intervals), just make sure that the duration of this speedwork is kept to a minimum. A personal trainer can help you tailor your workout to meet your individual needs.

In addition, it may be helpful to practice your open water swimming prior to the event. Swimming in open water feels very different than swimming in a pool. In open water, you have environmental challenges such as waves, sun, and dark water and are without the comforts of lane lines that guide your pool workouts. The closest area for DC triathletes to practice their open water swimming is Sandy Point State Park. However, you can also simulate open water swimming in the pool by practicing swimming laps, while closing your eyes underwater. This will help simulate what it feels like to swim in a lake and make you more comfortable on race day.

Equipment: In addition, you should begin double checking your equipment to make sure that it is ready for the race. If you are going to rent a wetsuit, contact local bike shops to see if you can reserve a wetsuit. The Bike Rack, one of District Fitness’ partners, offers wetsuit rentals—in addition to 10% discounts on parts, accessories, and nutrition for District Fitness clients. While wetsuits are not necessary for this race, they will keep you warmer and improve your buoyancy—resulting in faster swim times.

Furthermore, double check your bike and make sure that it is all in working order. At this point, you should feel comfortable on your bike and I would not suggest making any major adjustments to it before the race. Make sure that your tires are inflated (and not rubbing against your brakes) and that the chain is properly lubed. If you’re feeling uncomfortable about it, take it for a quick spin by the Bike Rack and see if the mechanics can double check it for you.

Finally, you will want to figure out what you’ll be wearing for the race (either for the entire race if you’re wearing a racing singlet or for each section if you’re going to change in the transition area). During race week, do a practice workout in your racing outfit, just to double check how everything fits (make note of any chafing or discomfort) and make adjustments if necessary. Better to find out about any problems the week before the race then during the race!

Nutrition: Similar to your workouts or equipment, you don’t want to try anything new or crazy with your nutrition prior to the race. At this point, you should know what you like to eat before your workouts (and during, if you’ve practiced that). Stick with that plan! Many races have been ruined by people trying new diets or foods prior to a race.

In addition, many people ask me about the need to carbo-load prior to this race. Carbo-loading can be an effective practice for athletes preparing for a long-distance endurance event, as it fills up the glycogen stores that athletes tap into during long-distance racing. For a sprint triathlon, the distances are not great enough for athletes to tap into glycogen stores, so carbohydrate loading is unnecessary. However, many athletes find it to be a mental advantage, so if you feel it gives you a mental advantage that will improve your performance, go right ahead!

Packing for the Race
Packing for a triathlon is definitely more complicated than other single sport events. Here is a list to make sure that you have everything that you need:

General:

ID (this will be checked at packet pickup)
Registration confirmation (usually unnecessary, but nice to have)
USAT card—if you aren’t a USA Triathlon member, you can buy a one-day membership for $10 (this is usually assessed when you register)
Race outfit
Post-race clothing
Sunglasses
Any nutrition that you are going to use during the race (sports drink, gels, bars, etc.)
Water bottle(s)
Sunscreen
Race belt (optional)

Swim:

Goggles
Swimsuit
Wetsuit (optional)
Swim cap (note: one will be provided for you at packet pick-up)

Bike:

Bike (please don’t forget this)
Helmet
Bike shoes (if you have them)
Cycling gloves (if you have them)
Flat tire kit: tire levers, CO2 cartridge, tire pump, spare tube (optional, but nice to have)

Run:

Running shoes
Running visor (optional)
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Very Impormative Sprint Triathlon Training Program

“A very informative Sprint Triathlon Training Program. Are you ready for it? Read more below!”

Sprint Triathlon Training Program

Sprint Triathlon Training Program

Ok, so you want to do a sprint length triathlon? To start the final 13 week program leading up to a sprint tri, you will need to be able to consistently sustain the following: 20min swim, 30min bike, 20min run. If you can do the previous, then you are ready for the final 13 week program for a sprint triathlon. These minutes might seem ‘long’ but I am assuming that you are going at a leisurely pace and NOT working on speed at this stage of the game. SO, by doing the 20-30min of each sport, I am hoping you will be at least meeting the mileage. You may very well exceed it – that’s ok, you will then be better prepared.

Pre-Sprint Triathlon Training Program

Leading up to these final 13 weeks for a sprint-length triathlon, you should be running and swimming 2-3 times per week. For a sprint triathlon, you can get away with biking 1-2 times a week. For those who have just learned how to run consistently 15-25 minutes, follow the following transitional training example program to take you from pure running to the final 13 weeks that will be posted on this page – hopefully soon. I am currently working on it. For now you can design a program where you run, bike and swim 2 times a week (not necessarily in that order) increasing your swimming and biking from a few minutes to 20-30minutes.

You already know how to run, so you must work in the biking and swimming while only increasing in these events by no more than 10% a week.  Once you have gotten up to 20min swim (forward crawl – no stopping), 30min bike, and 20min run , then you may start the final 13 week program.  Getting up to these levels might take a month or several depending what you are strong in.  Be patient.  Swimming might take the longest.  Once you have achieved these levels, it is usually a good idea to sustain them for a month or so before going on into the final 13-week sprint training program.

Sprint 13-Week Training Program

**9/11/02 – This is the program I designed for my mother who is running her first sprint triathlon this weekend. She is 59 years old and started from scratch in the fall of 2001. If she can do it, you can!**

Remember, you may definitely overshoot the mileage by the end of this program, but this program is for everybody and especially for beginners OF ALL AGES!!!. It is not based on speed but on endurance. You can go as slow as you want. This is your first triathlon, and the goal is to just finish and to HAVE FUN!!!

If you need some reference on mileage to minutes: I am a slow, leisurely runner and it takes me 40 minutes to run 4 miles. One runs max 45 minutes in this program, so runners slower than me (and I am slow) can definitely do this program. However, if you find you can do a longer length tri during the middle of the following program, than sign up for a longer one!

By the way, if you can’t do all the minutes – DON’T WORRY!!! 45 minutes running or 35 minutes swimming does sound like a lot. Do your best. On race day, you will get a great extra boost from the environment. Being that swimming is first, I know you will be able to do the distance even if you have only maxed out at around 20-30 minutes (just make sure you have done the 0.6miles in the pool as you can’t really stop in the event). Biking is easy at these distances – even under minimal training. Running…you can stop to walk as much as it is needed if you want…you are allowed. I THINK YOUR GONNA BE ALRIGHT!!!

For a typical sprint triathlon (~0.5mile swim, 12mile bike, 3mile run), here are some results of the best and worst times from ages 15 to 70:

Swim: 10-35min Bike: 30-55min Run: 18-45min Total: 55-135min

Final 13 Weeks!!!

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