Triathlon run training is just the same as any run training program, right? Well, yes?and no.
All run training whether it's for your next 5K race or your upcoming sprint-distance triathlon shares the same three basic elements, or what I call the Holy Trinity of Training: base building, strength and speed.
1. Endurance/Aerobic Base: Aerobic zone heart rate training to develop your cardiovascular system so you can resist fatigue (run the 5K) and teach your body to efficiently burn fat for fuel. This will make up the bulk of your run training—at least 80 percent.
2. Strength/Force/Power: Both general (weight lifting) and sport-specific (running hill repeats) strength training can help you overcome resistance, such as running up hills during your race, with less muscular fatigue. Triathletes should limit run-specific strength to once a week. Remember, you have two other sports to build for.
3. Speed Skills: Speed skills contain both technique drills (butt-kick drills, cadence drills, etc.) and speed work (short sprints to longer lactate threshold sets). Both make you a faster runner because you become more efficient (run faster with the same energy output) and you teach your neuromuscular system to fire faster. Build technique drills and short speed sets (5 to 10 second bursts) into every run. Once again, if you are training for triathlon, limit your speed-focused run sessions to once a week and for best results do your speed work on rested legs.
And that, my friends, is where the similarity ends.
What a Difference a Tri Makes
The unique twist in triathlon is that your run begins on tired legs. And unlike someone focused strictly on 5Ks, you have less time available for run training because you require time to train for two other sports. To step up to the challenge of three sports, and to be able to run strong off the bike incorporate these three additional advanced tactics into your triathlon training schedule.
Bike, Run, Repeat
To build the confidence to jump off your bike and run you need to train for mental toughness. Here are a couple of ideas:
1. Sprint or Olympic-Distance Triathlon: Do one session three weeks before and a second session two weeks before your key race: After a good warm up, do three to four repetitions of 8 to 12 minutes at slightly above race pace on a bike trainer, followed immediately by a 5 to 8 minute run slightly above race pace. In between each repetition, spin for a minute or two on the trainer to get your legs ready for the next set.
More: When to Run After a Ride