Running Tips for Triathlon

As the last event of a triathlon, the run is where most races are won or lost. Since your legs are the primary muscle group involved in both cycling and running, it is not uncommon for people to go too hard on the bike leg and have nothing left for the run. This event is the only part of a triathlon that the human body was designed to do, however, that does not mean that you have innately good running form. The better your technique, the less energy it takes to go at the same speed. 

With that in mind, we have devoted many sessions to running drills that are designed to improve your form and efficiency, so don’t skip these sessions thinking that they are silly, or that they won’t make you faster. Beyond that, these drills help strengthen the ligaments in your legs and ankles; in particular, your achilles tendon, which acts as a spring while running. The stronger your achilles, the greater this “spring” reacts to each stride. Unfortunately, building that strong spring takes years of consistent running, so don’t get discouraged if you don’t run as fast as someone who has been running for years.

 

OPTIMIZING YOUR TRAINING

Equipment you will want for run training:

  • Running shoes...
    Keep in mind that running shoes should be replaced every 300-500 miles, so depending on how much you run, that could range from 6 months to 3 years! Try to track your mileage so you replace those shoes before your feet or legs start screaming at you! If you’re still running in shoes from 2010, get to your nearest running shop now!  
  • A watch that allows you to take lap splits...
    These days there are a good number of relatively inexpensive watches out there that can take splits as well as track heart rate. Ideally, you should log your splits after each training session, which will allow you to track your changes in speed over time.
  • Access to a running track...
    This is not feasible for everyone, but it will be important for the days with harder efforts*. If this is not an option, then a level field (like a football field) can work in most cases, and you can do almost all of these workouts on a treadmill if needed.
    There are a few important reasons that competitive track & field events are held on a purpose-built track, and it isn’t just to mark the distance. When running, you impact the ground with anywhere from two to four times your body weight depending on your pace. This joint stress adds up over the course of a run and throughout a training plan. A running track is more spongy when compared to running on concrete. This helps absorb some of the force that would otherwise transfer through your joints. While one of the main benefits of running is the increased joint and bone strength that develops from these impacts, doing too much too soon is a recipe for injury. You can get away with doing some tempo and aerobic runs out on sidewalks, but if you try to complete Crazy 8s on the road you will give your body a much harder beating than intended.

RACE DAY RUN

This run is all about how you finish, not how you start!

  • Remain calm exiting T2 and fight the urge to match the pace of those around you; focus on settling into your own rhythm.
  • Don’t be worried if your stride feels awkward coming off the bike, it takes time for your body to make the switch.
  • Remain calm and find a pace that you feel comfortable with - it’s always better to hit the halfway mark and increase your speed rather than go hard at a pace you know you can’t hold and blow up.
  • Remember that stress is cumulative. By the time you start running, you will already have fatigue building that can hit you hard if you don’t fuel and pace well. 
  • Set realistic pace goals. Your 10k triathlon pace will not be as fast as your open 10k pace, so don’t get discouraged if you cannot run as fast as you do in a running-only race or training session.
  • Take in water and sports drink at the aid stations as needed, however, once past the halfway point of an Olympic distance (or shorter) race, anything you take in won’t make much of a difference; so hit those aid stations early and often!
  • Most importantly, have fun! You’ve taken on this challenge to get the best out of yourself, and your best performances will always come when you enjoy what you’re doing!

 

Looking for more training advice?

Are you trying to decide what training plan to use or how to plan your race schedule?  We have some resources available:

Check out the Blog!  Turn to the Wahoo Sports Science team for the best training advice. 

Join the conversation in the Forum.  Join our community of like-minded athletes to share training tips, advice and more.  

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