Home Training for a Triathlon

Different Triathlon Lengths Vs Different Tactics


I have a question but before I begin, let me give you some history which could potentially not have any relevance to this post but what the hell. I am 40 and started the road to Triathlons at the end of 2013. I have so far completed two Sprint Distances in 2014 and completely loved every second of it. The pain, tears and sweat were all worth it. It is also important to know, this part might have some relevance to my question, that I am not a natural athlete and am certainly not built like one. I am more the Shot Putter build (sorry Shot Putters) and I have to wear a man's Tri suit because the ones for the ladies look like they would fit my daughter and don't tell Greenpeace when I am getting my wetsuit on......it will just save embarrassment later.

So, finally the question is. When you start doing longer distances, do you go at the same speed as you would a Sprint Distance. If taking on an Olympic Distance or Half Iron Man, do you slow your speed down to get through it. More of an endurance approach rather than a Sprint approach. To be honest, I take the more endurance approach when doing my Sprint but that is because I am new to this game and also I have this Shot Putter build...............

I can lap the pool for quite some time at a steady comfortable pace, I can get on my bike and do a few hours at a good cadence (around 80+) so with my ability to endure with grit and determination, would I be able to enter longer distances? Sure you can, you will all shout but I wanted to know the psyche behind it...........yes I have turned into Triathlon bore and potential nerd......

Would my Sprint timings not be so far off endurance at an Olympic event? I am probably not explaining myself well, but for the first stab and not wanting to bore you any longer, thought I would ask.

Thanks for listening.



  • I think it is fair to say that the longer the distance of the triathlon, the lower the pace of each section of the triathlon - for the same athlete. I suppose to confirm this you could look up Javier Gomez's race times this year, as we know he races everything from supersprint to middle distance events, and his "fitness" won't change much during the season. 

    If you're asking how your sprint distance times translates to a longer race times in consequent years, then this is impossible to answer as it depends upon many factors including your training before your sprints compared to your training before your longer races. 

    One thing is for sure, during the longer events, the philosophy is to compete at a lower heart rate, so that fat burning is your main energy source, rather than at shorter events, where the heartrate is higher, and therefore carbohydrate burning is the main energy source. For example, this year I did olympic distance events, my heartrate was in the order or 150-160 bpm. Next year I am doing a long distance event, for the bike stage my heart rate will be 135-140 bpm.......the speed at this heartrate will be dependent upon the efficacy of my training. 

    Hope this helps.





  • risris Posts: 1,002

    in theory, your sprint time wouldn't pro-rata to a longer distance because (like JWP says) you probably aren't working as hard in them. i'm not sure there is an algorithm that can work out the correlation between one and another, either (too many variables - course, weather, etc). 

    this really depends on how you race, though - if you genuinely race your sprints in a 'steady' mode then you might find the times extrapolate quite well. i'd be amazed if you actually found that was the case!

    similar to JWPs description - my hr in a sprint is right up there for a long time, on the run i am at 90-95% mx hr for as long as i can manage. Even my bike is pushing 95% at times (climbs etc). on a long distance it is a great deal lower - consistently aerobic (throughout bike and run).

    i've not an oly for a while to remember how i pace them, but my memory is that i tend to push it as hard as i can, and ramp up the run. 

    last thing - you might not think of yourself as a natural athlete, but you are in terms of mentality if you are prepared to get out there and do it! 

  • Andrew4Andrew4 Posts: 190

    The HR points raised above are exactly it. Your heart rate will always be lower in a longer race. In a sprint you will be working for a much shorter time period therefore you will be able to work much closer to your threshold (1hr maximum pace) than it you were doing a long distance race over the course of a full day.

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