3 Running Workouts for Triathletes

A successful run in a triathlon begins—and ends—with a simple, straightforward training plan that focuses on quality mileage.

Endurance athletes can put in less time if they follow a plan that avoids so-called junk mileage. Here is a three-day-a-week running program designed for triathletes. While this running program is well-suited for most triathletes, be sure to modify it based on the race you're preparing for and your current fitness level.

Run Workout No 1: Track and Speed Session

Slogging away mile after mile will not improve your performance. Recreational triathletes can put in years of training, only to find they're running the same speed as two years before.

More: 7 Training Tweaks to Improve Your Triathlon Run

Begin by building up your aerobic endurance. This doesn't mean running slow in every workout. Track sessions, which will build endurance, strength, speed, technique and aerobic foundation, should be completed throughout the year.

Early season (16-26 weeks before your A race): Your goal during this "base phase" is to build aerobic endurance.  Intervals at the track are called "cruise repeats."  You should not try to run at your race pace yet.

These intervals build your aerobic foundation and train your legs to turn over faster than during a long run. 

Running fast promotes proper functional movement.  When you're running fast, you increase your stride length, which improves mobility and strengthens your core.

More: How to Run Like a Triathlete 

Below is an example of how to structure your early season workouts. Let's use the example of a 21-minute 5K runner—a 6:46 minute/mile. Be sure to jog for 200 meters of recovery between each set.

  • Week 1: 4 sets of 400 meters at 1:45 to 1:50 minutes; 6 sets of 200 meters at 50 to 55 seconds. Total: 2,800 meters (or about 1.7 miles)
  • Week 2: 5 sets of 400 meters at 1:45 to 1:50; 6 sets of 200 meters at 50 to 55 seconds. Total: 3,200 meters (or about 1.98 miles)
  • Week 3: 6 sets of 400 meters at 1:45 to 1:50 minutes; 6 sets of 200 meters at 50 to 55 seconds. Total: 3,400 meters (or 2.1 miles)
  • Week 4: 3 sets of 400 meters at 1:45 minutes; 4 sets of 200 meters at 50 seconds. Total: 2,000 meters (or 1.24 miles)

MoreWhat Makes a Good Triathlon Runner?

About the Author

Justin Levine is a fitness specialist and triathlon coach in Visalia, California. He is the owner of California Fitness Academy and president of The Visalia Triathlon Club. His philosophy is to enhance an individual's functional movement, posture and dynamic flexibility to maximize triathlon performance. You can email Justin at justinlevine03@hotmail.com or read his e-book, The Complete Triathlete, at justintrain.com.

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