You’ve built base fitness, developed your strength and upped your threshold. Now it’s time to put a fine edge on your run performance by adding speed.
For many triathletes, especially those newer to the sport, run training tends to consist largely of building up the fitness required to cover the distance you’ll be racing over. Alternatively, you may have focused on increased volume, intensity or frequency. But to run faster, high-quality, short reps of speed development work are needed to improve the recruitment of muscle fibres – to produce more force – and produce neuromuscular adaptations – so your brain can tell the muscles to move faster.
Quality speed development work is rarely incorporated into training plans, but can bring huge gains for triathletes of all levels. These sessions are best done at your local running track due to the softer, consistent surface, but be warned, this is stressful training so only try this session if you’re injury free.
Running drills, e.g. heel flicks and straight leg runs
4 x 50m
Acceleration runs at 5km race pace with slow walk-back recovery
80m max effort sprints
Maintain good running form
2-3mins easy recovery
Repeat 5 times
Take an extra 3mins after the 5th rep, then repeat this set once or twice more. Stop if you feel any discomfort in your leg muscles
3-4 easy laps
Afterwards use a foam roller to lightly massage your calf muscles. Don’t over-stretch your leg muscles in the 24hrs after this session as the muscle fibres will be recovering
Adapt for beginners
Reduce the amount of reps you do in each set. It’s best to do too few and build up over a few sessions.
Adapt for Ironman
This is still a good session for long-course athletes. Increase the length of the reps to 150m and run slightly slower, still looking to maintain form. You can also increase reps or sets but don’t overdo it, this is speed work, not threshold or endurance.