The ITU World Triathlon Leeds is in its third year with a great course, where, if you pace yourself smartly, you can race like the elites all the way to your blue-carpet finish.
Starting with a lake swim, you’ll want to practise your open-water drills to gain advantage early on. The swim familiarisation at Waterloo Lake on Saturday 9 June is a good opportunity to practise sighting, breathing and group swimming (see training sessions 1 & 2).
Coming out of transition and onto the bike you have to gain 30m in the first km to hit the road, so leave your bike in the small chainring to exit and climb smoothly. There’s a couple of downhills, such as the long and wide Stonegate Road, so you need to be comfortable descending fast. When you turn it’s then a long, sustained effort for a mile or two back up the hill, so get your gearing right before the turn points to accelerate away without losing speed and momentum (see training sessions 3 & 4).
Practising your cornering in training will also help you gain advantage on the u-turns, corners and roundabouts. It’s downhill into the dismount so it’s worth practising transitions on descents. Make sure your feet are out of the pedals for the dismount before the flags to enter transition smoothly.
The run on the sprint course is 7.5km to allow for the single transition, so be prepared to take on this distance on foot. Learn to run fast downhill to gain advantage on the 5% gradients. In the city centre, take a wider line and approach the corners like you would on a bike to keep speed. A lot of people flag in the last 25% of the race, so try and hold something back for this final push (see training session 5)
5 key training sessions
1. Confidence swimming in a group is key. Occupy one swimming lane with five others and take it in turns to swim on each other’s feet to get yourself used to close contact.
2. Force yourself to look up every three or four strokes to practise sighting, and make a point of noting the landmarks, and other swimmers around you.
3. Do some 1-2 mile rides with climbs and ride at a controlled pace so you don’t get too out of breath. Keep your core strong and upper body still so the power comes from your legs.
4. Find a quiet road to practise sharp turns and slowing or accelerating. Change into a lower gear before the turn point to move off at speed.
5. To improve running speed, run your target race pace or higher at 6-8min intervals during one of your weekly or fortnightly sessions. Practise running off the bike as well as downhill running.
ITU World Triathlon Leeds elite races run on Sunday 10 June and a few grandstand tickets are still available. Those with tickets will see the elite athletes pass them seven times on the bike and four times on the run, as well as be able to witness the thrilling last stages of the races. A big screen will also be located opposite the grandstand, showing live coverage and commentary.