Train Right for Your Run Type

If you're training for a shorter peak triathlon (sprint) or a longer one (a 70.3 or full-distance), you may follow a similar progression; you just need to adjust the pace and distance to make the workouts specific to your goal race.

Use the following table for guidelines for these other distances:

  Speed Runner Fatigue-resistant Runner
Sprint Triathlon Start at: (12 weeks out) 300m intervals @ 5K race pace 600m intervals @ 5K race pace + 5%
Build to: (1-2 Weeks out) 1km intervals @ 5K race pace 1km intervals @ 5K race pace
70.3 Start at: (12 weeks out) 800m intervals @ half-marathon race pace 1km intervals @ half-marathon race pace + 5%
Build to: (1-2 weeks out) 2km intervals @ half-marathon race pace 2km intervals @ half-marathon race pace
Full-distance (140.6) Start at: (12 weeks out) 1 mile intervals @ marathon race pace N/A
Build to: (1-2 weeks out) 5km intervals @ marathon race pace N/A

Note that the peak workouts are the same at each distance for both speed runners and fatigue-resistant runners. This is because both speed and fatigue-resistant runners need to peak with interval workouts that are race-specific in both their speed and fatigue-resistance demands.

The destination is the same for all runners seeking a certain goal time at a specific distance. But speed runners and fatigue resistance runners must start at different points and approach this destination from different directions.

Also note that all triathletes are advised to take the same approach to event-specific interval workouts for the Ironman distance. This is because all triathletes bring more speed than fatigue resistance to the marathon distance.

Since the intensity of marathon-pace running is relatively low, I recommend doing Ironman-specific intervals in the context of a long run. In other words, scatter the intervals evenly throughout a long run of an appropriate duration in which the non-interval segments are performed at a moderate pace.


Active Expert Matt Fitzgerald is the author of several books on triathlon and running, including Brain Training for Runners and Runner's World Performance Nutrition for Runners (Rodale, 2005).

Related Articles:

      • Treadmill Threshold Workouts

      • 3 Basic Steps to a Faster Run

      • Breaking it Down: Physiology, Running and Recovery

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