Triathlete using aerobars
Training tips for the advanced triathlete
Training

15 training tips for the advanced triathlete

Are you a seasoned triathlete wanting to fine tune your training ? Here are some tips from top tri coaches and experts

1. BRICK BY BRICK

“Complete multiple bricks – bike, run, bike, run, bike, run – with a short recovery after each bike. Lay down a marker 200m into the run. Establish how to cover the ground quickly after the bike. How fast do you need to stride per min (leg turnover) after cycling before finding your running legs? Find out what effect your arms have on your length per stride. More than 30% of top age-groupers fail to use their arms correctly at the beginning and during a tri run. Progress to a 5km hard run with correct, symmetrical arm action.” Mark Kleanthous, tri coach

2. FOCUS ON THE DETAIL

“There are loads of little exercises that can help you run faster without battering yourself in training. Proprioception exercises (standing on one foot with your eyes closed is a simple one, but Google can help you find more!) are useful, and never neglect core strength exercises. They’ll transfer every ounce of power into forward motion.” Jess Harrison, former pro triathlete

 3. PLYOMETRICS AND STRENGTH

“You should include plyometric training as well as basic core strength work. This will not only help to develop overall strength but power as well, especially at the latter end of a triathlon when it’s common to fatigue, lose technique and see a drop in speed.” Fran Bungay, tri coach for Goal Specific 

Plyometric exercises for triathletes

 4. RACING ABROAD

“Racing away from home can create logistical issues when trying to stick to your normal race nutrition strategy, so think beforehand about your food options. Either take your own or make sure they stock your usual nutrition. Also research other factors that will affect your race. These include local weather, the topography and technicality of the course, and how that may affect your equipment choices such as wheels, cassette and clip-on aerobars.” Paul Paterson, tri coach at RG Active

Chris McCormack's 12 top tips for the travelling triathlete

5. TRAIN WITH POWER

“Power meters are slowly coming down in price, and that’s good news because they’re the most accurate and immediate way to measure your output. There are many good training options too, such as Wattbike, as well as indoor training centres like Athlete Lab [bike-training centre in London].” Paul Paterson, tri coach at RG Active

6.  MARGINAL GAINS

“Our team’s looked at several aspects of marginal gain performance. These include: switching to ceramic bearings in the bottom bracket for mooted power savings of 10-12 watts; fasted sessions and periodised nutrition to improve fat-burning; emphasis on band-only swimming; and analysing specific power metrics post-race to target weaknesses.” Tom Bennett, head coaching at T2 Coaching

 7. WATER POLO, ANYONE?

“This may sound a bit out there, but train with a water polo team. You’ll learn to sprint for the ball, which is great training for fast starts, and the constant fast turns will help with swimming around buoys. It’ll also raise your confidence of swimming with others in close proximity.” Mark Kleanthous, tri coach

8. SIT OR STAND?

“When it comes to climbing and the old debate of standing versus seated, one study showed that athletes perform to their peak when seated at a submaximal intensity of 86% of Wmax (maximum power output), while the standing position should be used at intensities above 94% of Wmax and approaching 165% of Wmax.” Daniel Healey, head of sports science at Tinkoff-Saxo

Cycling up hills: when you should sit and when you should stand

9. PROTEIN INCREASE

“If you’re training three times a week, 1g of protein per kg bodyweight is fine to repair muscles. However, guys and girls  training 7-10 times each week, and maybe doing 15hrs of aerobic work, need more protein, so maybe 1.5g per kg. Also, take protein in small doses rather than scoffing in one go. We did a study last year and the body made greater use of protein when dispatched in four servings of 20g.” John Hawley,Professor of Exercise Metabolism

10. STRONG BACKEND 

“As well as strength work – see tip 3 – a run session that will maintain power and consistency during the latter part of the race is below. Note: this is for 70.3 racers. At this level, athletes should be able to run up to 2hrs, be comfortable with running interval sessions at threshold pace and have been following a winter programme that’s included hill reps and drill work specific to their target races. It’s a great set that can be used throughout the year, so you can track progression and progress the set with regards to distance and/or time. Also, come race season, it’s a great one to do off the bike – ideal if you can find a short loop of around 15mins. Right, on to the set…”


10mins of comfortable aerobic running, including some dynamic stretches at the beginning.

5 x 20secs strides, with 10secs rest between.

3 x 15mins at above half-marathon pace, just below 10km pace, with 2mins walking recovery. The key here is to sustain your pace throughout all three.

Fran Bungay, tri coach for Goal Specific 

 QUICK FIRE TIPS FROM RG ACTIVE

11. Regular sports massage and physio. This will keep your body in check and identify any niggles before they grow into a big problem.

12. Work on run technique and, in particular, ground reaction time, posture, stride length and cadence. All can be refined to increase speed.

13. Up your front crawl game by pitting yourself against faster swimmers. Enter Masters races and open-water events.

14. Tailored performance nutrition will optimise your recovery and race fuelling, and help with weight management as well as nutritional periodisation.

15. Strength work should now include rotational strength work, for improved swimming and running efficiency. 

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