Juggling three disciplines can be challenging, and it certainly requires discipline and organisation, but the variety of training makes it interesting and fun. Whether you simply want to get round and tick it off your bucket list, or push yourself to the limits and improve on your last performance, there are a host of factors that tie together to help you get the best out of your training and triathlon performance. Here we are focusing on the run leg, and have put together a bank of information to help your understand your training.
Ultimately to run faster, you need to start practicing running at faster speeds. To do this you need to do two particular types of training sessions; Tempo and Interval sessions. An Interval session is typically where your run faster than you can run continuously for, with true rest periods (walking!) in between. This forces your body to adapt to running at these faster speeds and as a result, the pace you can run continuously for will increase proportionally. As well as running faster for short periods of time you should aim to build up your tolerance for running at faster speeds for longer and this is where Tempo sessions come in. Here you'll run at slightly faster speeds, but for longer and keeping jogging between sections. As part of your tri run plan, you will alternate between these two workouts every other week.
You might be thinking "why do long runs" if you're training for a shorter goal (such as a sprint tri), but it's still crucial to build up your endurance alongside the faster training too. By building up your body's endurance to run longer at slower speeds, it'll help you run your faster paces for longer too!
Easy runs are often the most neglected part of runners' training regimes. Running slowly when you're aiming to run faster feels counter-intuitive, however it's for a good reason. Running fast is very fatiguing on your body, with heightened injury risk and longer recovery times. There is no set pace for easy runs but the slower the better! By spending most of your runs running slower and easier, it means you can still build your leg strength and endurance but also feel fresher for your quality speed sessions. Like they say, it's quality over quantity. A popular rule to bear in mind is the 80/20 rule; you should be looking to spend 80% of your time doing easy running and only 20% of your time training at or above threshold pace.
Brick runs are essentially runs straight off the bike. For triathlon newbies, you will find this an odd feeling at first - legs are heavy! The brick runs in your training plan will be on the shorter side to allow you to adapt and get used to running off the bike. We don't always want you running too far on tired cycling legs as this will can increase our chances of injury, which isn't worth it in training! The aim is to get familiar with that heavy legged sensation and build your confidence for running off the bike. Remember to fuel well on these days - this is important for your recovery and injury prevention.
Your weekly mileage is another important area to consider. First of all, you should start with a mileage that your know your body can tolerate; do not jump in all-guns-blazing! Start with a volume that works for YOU; this is key to reduce your risk of injury. Also, look to avoid jumping up significantly in the number of runs per week than you are used to.
As you build up your mileage over time, you should look to never exceed a weekly increase of more than 10% (e.g., if you can comfortably run 40km per week, next week run no more than 44km). Additionally, while you should look to increase your mileage over time, you should also add in deload weeks. A deload week is where you'll drop your weekly mileage every 3-5 weeks to allow your body to recover from, and adapt to, all of your recent training. This will reduce you injury risk and helping you to feel both physically and mentally fresher into your training moving forwards.
Whilst we will be providing the run part of your schedule, you also have another two sports to train. It is important you get the balance of intensity right between the sessions so you can recover well, avoid fatigue, reduce your chance of injury and hit the targets you set on your harder days. We would advise following the 80:20 rule where 80% of your training is easy and 20% of your training is hard. Keeping hard days hard, followed by an easy day, it will allow you to recover well in-between sessions.
To help your body adapt to the hard training and also recover properly to avoid injuries, there are some essentials that you should be doing on a recovery side of things too. Firstly, sleep; aim for a consistent 8 hours of sleep every night. Secondly, whether it's Pilates, Yoga or simply stretching, you should look do to at least some mobility work each week.
Other ways to optimise your recovery include sports massages or even using at-home massage tools such as massage guns or a foam roller. Listen to your body throughout your training and be prepared to take an extra day of rest or move the sessions around within a week if you find that you need a little extra recovery.
To get faster and stronger, you'll need to nail your training sessions but also make sure you're fuelling your recovery and making health-conscious nutrition choices too! To help optimise your recovery, look to keep your protein high, take on plenty of carbs before and after your tougher sessions and if you're looking to really push the pace or distance, don't be afraid to experiment with caffeine too. Since you are taking on three sports, fuelling properly in training is key to get the best out of yourself.
Due to not being able to consume food when swimming, the bike section will be important in ensuring you get enough nutrition onboard to fuel your run. Within your training, get familiar with fuelling on the bike and find out what nutrition strategy works best for you. It is important to note that everyone is different so experiment a bit and don't leave it too close to race day!
Your shoes are going to be a huge part of your training and investing in a good pair will help protect your body from the impact with the ground. We recommend going to a shoe shop that specialises in running shoes and has a treadmill in-store so that you can test a few different pairs. If you're looking to make those extra gains, you could even look to invest in a light, carbon-assisted pair of shoes!
Perhaps one of the hardest parts of training is being consistent and holding yourself accountable. Try to start off by developing a routine around your running and get used to getting out that door three, four or more times per week. You can even look to put your running sessions in your calendar/diary to help integrate them into your day-to-day. We'd also suggest tracking your progress as you go and using this as a tool to look back on how far you've come and motivate yourself to lace up for those harder sessions.
Look to make your training social, from telling your close friends your goals, to joining a community of runners either online or in your local area, to organising to run with people that you know. Additionally, what better way to hold yourself accountable than signing up to an event, knowing you have a deadline when you can put all of your hard work into practice?
Follow a plan!
Finally, maybe the best thing you can do to level up your running is follow a plan! A good plan will take care of everything that we've mentioned in this article, from setting out all of the sessions for you, automatically adjusting your mileage, incorporating deloads to balancing the right types of running for your ability. Have a plan will also help hugely with accountability and mean that you can focus purely on your running game!
Whether you have signed up for an upcoming race or are just looking to get to grips with a training plan, we have something for everyone. To check out our personalised training plans, join Runna today and get your first week free!