Another tactic is to include hill segments that range between 30 seconds and 2 minutes over the course of a 20-mile ride. Introducing hills requires a different muscle recruitment pattern than if you were to ride a flat course.
Instead of climbing in the easiest way possible aerobically, do 60 percent of each hill in a lower gear with a faster cadence (stay seated), ride 20 percent of the hill in a bigger gear, alternating 30-second segments seated and standing, and ride the last 20 percent in your choice gear (seated or standing).
Don't cream yourself going up the hills. You can start increasing intensity at 4-6 weeks into your building period.
Caution: Don't add multiple layers of intensity during this build-up period. Meaning, don't do both the run strides and the hilly rides in the same week.
Change Up the Tempo of Your Swims
When training for Olympic-distance triathlons, 1200 to 2000 meters is the optimal distance for your main swim set. Instead of dong one long, steady swim, however, change up the tempo in the main set.
For example (swim continuously):
- Do your first 100 meters at 6-8 seconds slower (per 100) than your projected race pace, which should be near your aerobic pace (e.g. 1:40/100)
- On the next 100 meters, try to swim your Olympic-distance race pace (about 6-8 seconds faster than the first 100)
- Then do 100 meters at the same pace as your first 100
- Do 600 meters straight
- Rest for about 10-20 seconds
- On the next 1000, do 10x100, using the swing pace described above, with a 10-second rest in between each 100. Allow enough rest so there is a "swing" of 6-8 seconds per 100.
Be sure to incorporate backstroke every few hundred meters on your longer days or in your longer sets. Backstroke works the rotator cuff on your shoulder in reverse of freestyle, which helps limit overload from the repetitiveness of freestyle.
For example: Do 200 freestyle, plus 50 back, and repeat six times all continuous.
The Bottom Line
As you increase your mileage, be sure to incorporate higher intensity training on your longer days for a better return on race day. Start off with 20-30 percent of the longer day at the higher intensity and remember to break this up into segments of 30 seconds to 3 minutes. As your base improves, incorporate 40-60 percent of the workout at the higher workload.Train to race. Search for your next triathlon.