3 Running Workouts for Triathletes

Mid-season:  Fitness and endurance will continue to build during this phase but now I encourage my athletes to finish the last ? of the run at a slightly faster pace.  I am a huge believer that you race how you train so finishing this long run with this increased pace imprints the "finish strong" characteristic into the body and the mind.  

The long run build-up continues:

  • Week 1: 1 hour 35 minutes at 8:40 pace, the last 23 minutes at 7:50-minute/mile pace.  
  • Week 2: 1 hour 40 minutes at 8:40 pace, the last 25 minutes at 7:50-minute/mile pace.
  • Week 3: 1 hour 50 minutes at 8:40 pace, the last 27 minutes at 7:50-minute/mile pace.  
  • Week 4: 1 hour aerobic run, no intensity

Race specific work: During this phase, still implement the long run.  The volume will now level off and stay steady. To simulate racing, every third long run, add in longer intervals at race intensities. Ideally, an athlete to complete two of these specific workouts leading up to their main race.  

Example (again modify the times based on your pace):

  • Week 1: 1 hour 50-minute long run at 8:35 pace, the last 27 minutes at 7:50-minute/mile pace
  • Week 2: 1 hour 50-minute long run at 8:35 pace, the last 27 minutes at 7:50-minute/mile pace
  • Week 3: 1 hour 40-minute run with 2 x 3 mile intervals at 10K race pace (Start with a 15 to 20-minute aerobic run warm-up, then complete a dynamic stretching routine, then begin the first interval.  After completion, jog easy for 5 minutes then perform the second repetition. Finish with 15 to 20 minutes of cool down running.)
  • Week 4: 1-hour aerobic run, no intensity
  • Week 5: 1 hour 30-minute long run at 8:35 pace, the last 22 minutes at 7:50-minute/mile pace
  • Week 6: 1 hour 40 minute-run with 2 x 3 mile intervals at 10K race pace
  • Week 7: 1 hour-long run at 8:35 pace, the last 15 minutes at 7:50-minute/mile pace 
  • Week 8: Race

MoreHow to Nail the Triathlon Run 

Putting It All Together

Designing your training schedule can be difficult.  Triathlon is a tough sport because you have to train for three different disciplines during the week. Traditionally for triathletes, your long run falls on Sunday.  If that day does not work for you, then implement that workout on a day that works best for you.  The track workout and tempo/hill workout should not fall on consecutive days.

Example Weekly plan:

  • Monday: functional strength training
  • Tuesday: track workout in the morning; swim in afternoon/evening
  • Wednesday: swim in the morning; bike in the afernoon/evening
  • Thursday: tempo/hill run in themorning; bike in the afternoon/evening
  • Friday: no morning workout; easy swim in the afternoon/evening   
  • Saturday: long bike
  • Sunday: long run

Training Tips

  • Always listen to your body. If you have mental and physical fatigue, either take the day off or decrease the volume of the specific workout.
  • Pay attention to red flags (slight pain, unusual sleep patterns, lack of motivation). Make adjustments to your routine as needed to allow recovery.  
  • Eat to train. Food is your fuel. The better you eat, the higher you can perform.
  • Stay hydrated throughout the week. Athletes need a minimum of 72 ounces of water every day.  
  • As you get to your longer durations runs (over 90 minutes), you will need to practice nutrition during your runs. Use gels, electrolyte mix, shot blocks, jelly beans, etc. for fuel during workouts. Practice now so you can construct a plan for race day.  
  • Always warm up before running. A few minutes of rolling on the foam roll and a dynamic warm up will minimize injury and prepare you to run better. On higher intensity days (track workouts/race pace work) your warm up is very critical to be successful.  

More: 3 Ways Triathletes Can Improve Their Run Economy

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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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