First off, we salute anyone who attempts triathlons. These are no mean feats and definitely not for the faint-hearted. They exhaust you in different ways and test your resolve. But you can also prove how hardy you are by competing and finishing one.
The training needed for running in a triathlon is very different from regular training. When you run in a triathlon, almost 70% of your race is already over with biking and swimming. Regardless of how exhausted you are at this point, it is essential to match your best running time in the last leg of the race. The trick lies in running fast off the bike instead of trying to increase speed towards the end of the run.
Your running training needs to integrate your swimming and biking training to get your best performance. You need to keep in mind endurance and speed, as these are essential to getting you your best time.
Good endurance allows you to run for longer, recover better from high intensity sessions and between higher intensity bouts within sessions, whereas the primary aim of speed sessions is to improve the speed you can sustain for a distance. Your coach will be able to guide you through these training sessions but essentially endurance is built up over time, where it goes from you being comfortable in your run to gradually moving to a zone where it becomes more and more difficult to clock the distance. It’s about pushing yourself that little bit extra every time.
When it comes to speed, know that no matter what the distance, your run will feel a lot longer than it actually is because of the swimming and biking exertion. Running 5 kilometers when you’re fresh is very different to running 5 kilometers when you’ve been doing other cardiovascular activities for 45-60 minutes. Your training needs to reflect this.
A few trials and errors tell us more about areas we need to work on than anything we read or hear. So it’s best to keep these points in mind and run your first triathlon without trying to be perfect in the first attempt. Even if you don’t make your best time, the sense of achievement is immense.
Happy running (swimming and biking)!