How to tackle a full season of sprint-distance triathlons

Planning on racing a series of sprint triathlons in a row, and wondering how long you should leave between races for recovery? Dermott Hayes has this advice


Planning a series of sprint triathlons is a great challenge, and something we’re seeing more of now as many athletes like to race regularly to stay sharp. The short answer is that it’s absolutely doable and you should tackle it head on. But there are factors to consider in how you approach the races.


The number of races that you choose to do may be dictated by the amount of free time you have, clashes with other life events and finances.

If you have only tackled a couple a year previously I’d advice targeting one sprint triathlon every 4-5 weeks. Crucial to this is that you have a winter of solid, consistent training that helps to improve your overall conditioning and strength so that you can cope with the demands of frequent training and racing – it’s not uncommon to see experienced athletes racing every two weeks.

Arguably, the most important factor here is how well a conditioned athlete will recover from the stresses of racing. They’ll be able to get back to their normal training volume after a few days of light training or full rest post-race. But it can take a less-conditioned athlete more than a week to recover from the rigours of a triathlon.

If you’re able to spread the races out 4-5 weeks apart then this would give you 3-4 days of post-race recovery, 3-4 weeks of focused preparation training for the next race, and then a 5-7 day, pre-race taper. The exact timeframes with this are quite individual, but with experience each athlete figures out how much recovery and pre-race taper they need.

If you’re targeting each of the races as very hard efforts then expect to take a little longer to recover. But if you treat one or some of the races as ‘training races’, then you won’t need as much recovery time and can flow straight into the following week of training. Take into consideration that the more regularly you train, the more your body will be accustomed to moving most days. If you take a long period of rest you may feel a bit sluggish, so do some light, recovery-style training sessions to keep active.

A final consideration is to ensure that you become good at feeling for the early signs of fatigue, such as changes in training performance, changes in sleep patterns, changes in appetite, mood swings and an increase in injuries. Any signs of these should inform you to reduce training volume, take extra rest days and return to training when your energy levels return.