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Pacing tactics

Morning everyone

Trust we're all having a tremendous day.

Right, that time again where we ask for your views on triathlon, to potentially be published in issue 253's Tri Talk.

In this case we're referring to issue 252, which hopefully is nestled on your coffee table right now. On page 59, Andrew Hamilton reports on a recent study from Australia that suggests cycling at full whack (or 86-100% of TT pace) leads to a quicker overall triathlon time than cycling at a lower intensity. Over four different intensities, as cycling intensity went down, run time went up. But not enough to produce a quicker overall time.

So our question is:

What are your pacing tactics?

Do you give it hell on the bike and cling on during the run? Swim for your life, then ease off on the bike? Or race on the edge of bonking for the entire time?

Personally, I survive the swim, then go all-out (ish) on the bike and run. Inevitably this tactic never leads to a negative split on the run!

Right, back to issue 253. Cheers


  • Cruise the swim, Nail the bike, Survive the run.

    Swimming is my strength, but I've learned that destroying myself to get a small head start out of the water just lets all the fast boys come charging past on the bike. Backing off lets me enjoy getting out of the water in a reasonable time while all around me are gasping for air.
  • As I've still only done a handful of Tri's, I'm still not sure what my pacing tactics are!! I can only go by my last race and I went all out in the swim, pretty steady on bike and hammered the run!! My bike is by far my worst discipline and desperately needs to improve so I imagine my pacing my change next year!!

    I think it all depends on race day, all your intentions could be to bladder every discipline but something may go horribly wrong!!
  • jonEjonE Posts: 1,113
    Totally course dependant,and varies from race to race,my pacing for a flat course such as Brigg sprint,will have me pushing harder on the bike,than say Hathersage which has a harder run.
  • JulesJules Posts: 987
    The bike is my best discipline so was pleased to read about this. Not too hard on the swim, then blast the bike as hard as I can then run the best run I can muster after that.
  • I think it's not only course dependant, but also distance dependant.

    For a sprint then it can be eye balls out all the way, as whatever discipline you are on, it ain't going to be too long before it's over and you're onto the next.

    Ironman though, completely different kettle of fish. Swim is just about getting to the end and feeling as fresh as possible. Bike, can be pushed, but not really until the last 1/3 or 1/4, otherwise you're in danger of bonking. And then on the run, a nice steady pace for the first 30 to 35km's, and only picking up the pace for the last 5 to 10km's.
  • md6md6 Posts: 969
    it varies, depending on distance mainly, but also the course. For a sprint, i don't do pacing i do as fast as i think I can do each individually and hope i can keep going at that pace. For Oly, pretty similar but to about 90% of what i know i can sustain for each discipline for the distances.

    For IM i managed not to drown, then got on the bike and went hard for the first hour, then found myself at about my target pace based on effort, that i knew i could sustain for about 80 miles, then it was time to dig in and keep going at that pace in the last few miles when it got tough. Then on the run, survive, I did try to have a strategy but it somehow didn't translate from the plan in my head the day (and weeks) before to the run on the day. So i ran, walked, limped, hobbled, ran some more, and repeat until the finish.
  • QuitterQuitter Posts: 160
    jon.E wrote:
    Totally course dependant,and varies from race to race,my pacing for a flat course such as Brigg sprint,will have me pushing harder on the bike,than say Hathersage which has a harder run.
    See you there this Sun?
    I easy pace the swim for an easy paced T1 for an easy paced bike for an eas.........
  • BritspinBritspin Posts: 1,655
    Never going to kill it on the swim, good steady pace, pick up most of the fast swimmers on the bike, attempt to negative split the bike & pick off a few on the run, fast pace at threshold...fall across the line.
  • I agree my best results have come from throtling back on the swim just a tad (even though it is my strongest discipline), nailing 95% of the bike as I tend to ease up a fraction about 1km from T2 and then give everything that is left on the run.

    Worst result came from going far too hard on the swim and hanging on for the rest meaning my bike and run splits were well down.

    Take the point about event distance being a factor though. The other factor which to some degree correlates to race distance being a factor is fitness levels. Very fit people can probably come close if not all the way to going all out on a sprint. But that isn't true for everybody and those less fit people will obviously have to pace themselves.
  • Did my last Tri of the season on Sunday (Ludlow) and my pacing tactics, ones that I ususally use, went horribly wrong!!

    I "bladdered" my swim (7:35) as usual but as soon as I got out of T1 all of my energy had gone....didn't feel like my knees were there when pedalling and it wasn't until the last 10k of the bike that my energy returned. My bike is usually my worst discipline anyway but I have never felt like that before. Whether it was because I went out quick on swim (but I usually do) or lack of nutrition (I ususally take a couple of Power Bar Ride Shots at start of bike, but I didn't) I don't know, but it was the first Tri I have done that it has happened. My bike was an Hour, but it was 28k according to the computer.

    My run is usually my strongets and I have usually got enough energy to put in a decent effort (5k PB is 21 Mins) however the energy was again as elusive as Lord Lucan and nowhere to find!! I also had a pain in my lower back that was pretty annoying. The run was 6.2k and my time was 33 minutes.

    All in all it was the first Tri that I have done that I haven't enjoyed (there will be more to come, no doubt!!), my bike is usually bad and that needs the most work during the winter, so that isn't a problem, however it was the complete lack of energy that I can't get my head round. As I only started Tri this year there is plenty of time for me to try and find out what was wrong and alter it so it doesn't happen again, hopefully it won't.

    Has anyone else ever suffered anything like this (I'm sure it must happen to many!!)??
  • My run is by far my worst discipline,

    I am an ex club/county swimmer al be it at 13 years old so swimming came back easy i cruised a 3.8 at 74 minutes.

    Sundays race at Dorney was quick

    Swim i always just get into a 3 stroke bilateral and stretch out i go into a world of my own and just concentrate on regularity i soon find myself overtaking people.

    I climbed out the water with loads in the tank this is always the case on the swim

    I got the bike down i push as hard as i can then in the last 1k i start to try and maintain a little pace in a lower gear always neck a gel at this point as i need the kick for the run best 5k on a tri is 27 but this did include T2 and i could have one quicke earlier

    Dorney on the other hand i felt like i was running through treacle.

    so for me at the moment swim is steady bike is hard and then run is a survival tactic.
  • dhcmdhcm Posts: 67
    Typical race pacing plan (emphasize it is a "plan"...)

    1. Survive the swim start
    2. Do rest of swim, bike and most of run at max sustainable pace for each
    3. Try and pick up the pace over the last few K of the run
    4. Sprint the final 200m
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