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Training For a Triathlon Race on Short Notice – Part 2

In my last post, I talked about working up to your full distance with base building. Now it’s time to…

Work On Some Speed!

After the base is built – or at least I’m fairly comfortable with these triathlon distances – I’m going to throw some speed workouts into the mix. This is mostly for personal pride and not getting passed by too many women and old-timers on the bike. It’s not you, it’s me…and my ego. I think it’s also cool to look good and have a half-way-decent stride at the finish line for your race photo collection.

Plus, even though I’m training on short notice, I’ll still going to compare my time to past events.triathlon speed training redline

Vanity aside, everyone wants to have a general feeling that they trained well, pushed hard during, and had a good race overall, right? Albeit, much of this – all of this in the world of triathletes – is subjective, however, that is beside the point. The point, currently, is gaining (some) speed.

What does my speed training look like? There are two parts: shorter/faster workouts and intervals within longer workouts.

Shorter / Faster Workouts

I’ll start with my upcoming distance and cut it in half. Let’s take running for example, and know that you can use this for biking as well. And swimming, for that matter.

For my sprint it’s a 5k, so I’ll 1.55 miles to start with, and later in my training, I may round it up to an even 2-miler. Not far at all, but remember, I’m about to really blitz it. Next, I’ll pick a pace that should be obtainable AND will be pushing for sure.

Normal “cruising speed” 8:30/mile…? Let’s shoot for a 7:15.

Important note! Make sure you are warmed up be for you go into race pace. Also, even though I’m doing a speed workout, by the time I warm up and cool down, I’m getting close to the full distance. That’s why this is such a great workout!

Speed Intervals Within Longer Workouts

Now let’s use the bike as our example for speed intervals within long training sessions. My upcoming triathlon has an 18-mile course and I hear that it’s rolling hills. (HOLY CR#P! Little did I know just how hilly it was. “Hills.” They must use that term loosely in North Carolina.)

Since I’m doing a speed-category workout, I’m not going to push for the full distance – at least not quite yet. If I’m feeling good later in my training, then I may throw it in. Remember that, just like distance, you have to slowly build up your speed as well.

I’ll take about two-thirds of my distance: 18/3×2=12 miles. Now, I choose the variables.

Pace: How fast will my interval be?

Time: How long will my interval be?

This pacing is going to be hard numbers such as time or distance, i.e., I’m going to sprint-ride at 24mph for one minute every five minutes (time) or I’m going to take every other mile fast (distance). I personally like to base these workouts on perceived effort, rather than pace. In other words, I’m going all-out for the duration of the interval!

On a side note, I’m not doing any concentrated “speed” stuff for swimming, although I will throw in a couple laps of “hard effort” in the pool or “picking up the pace” out in open water.

Race Reminder–> Be careful for two things here: excessive soreness and/or injury. Remember in the base-building on short notice post that it’s better to training more frequently at this point than get to beat up and require days of rest. So I’d say it’s better to slightly under-do it than overdo it. Know your body, and you can always go out harder on your successive workout. 

There you go, simple enough. Take this framework and use it to start building speed into your triathlon triathlon race priorities | TwoTri.comtraining. This can work for any distance triathlon that you are training for, simply adjust pace/distance accordingly.

Keep Your Priorities Straight

At first when we registered for this triathlon, I thought, “How fast can I go, what time could I achieve?” But hang on, this ain’t my A-race – I haven’t even been training. I then had to be honest with myself: with such short notice, I’m most likely not going to set a new PR. Ok, I probably won’t…even come close.

No big deal.

Simply adjust your priorities from racing for a spot on the podium or setting an new personal record to something more reasonable such as getting back into the sport and having a fun and enjoyable race.

Lesson learned: Set a reasonable goal. Instead of beating myself up over “not training long enough” or “going fast enough,” or any other “should have,” I’ll set a reasonably obtainable goal and enjoy the entire process of training and racing for my triathlon. Soak it in and enjoy the experience. 

Next up will be tips on short-notice tapering (is that a thing?) and getting ready for your race!There are always a few details that could easily fall through the cracks in triathlon race-day preparation, so don’t miss Training For a Triathlon on Short Notice – Part 3!

Posted by Trainer +Davey Anderson 

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Trainer DaveyTrainer Davey is an Orange County personal trainer at heart, but has since moved to Nashville and taken on the new challenge of triathlon training. Of course, he misses his home of Surf City...but Music City ain't so bad either!View all posts by Trainer Davey →