Attempting to improve your PB at any tri distance is tough, but doing it over the sprint distance really requires a level of commitment and the acceptance that it might be a little uncomfortable.
Over a 14hr Ironman race you can make an improvement of 30mins without having to increase training significantly, but trying to improve your sprint distance PB by 8-10mins really does take a lot of effort. It is doable though, and with the training plan overleaf you will be on the right path to reach the finish line faster.
The plan is designed for those who already have some triathlon experience and are able to commit to six days training per week. You should have a decent base level of fitness and an understanding of working at differing levels of intensity. One key element is that each week has a number of ‘double days’ where there are two training sessions – these don’t need to be done in succession and, in fact, it’s better to recover between training sessions and be ready to execute each session as strongly as possible. Consider how best to refuel between sessions on double days with the right hydration and nutrition.
After week 1, when you’ll have completed a time trial in each discipline, you’ll use the results to set the intensity of many of the proceeding interval sessions, so it’s important to record the data and have a way of monitoring speed/pace.
Make sure you get in some open-water swim practice – it really will be crucial to your overall performance to spend some time in your wetsuit. Focus on practising the finer details of open-water swimming such as sighting, swimming in groups and getting used to physical contact.
Always include a warm-up and cool-down. Warm-up = 4-5mins gradually building the intensity from moderate to vigorous and includes 2-3 bursts of hard efforts for 30secs each. Cool-down = 3-5mins easy cardio followed by stretches. For the TT pace, calculate the average pace from your time trials and use that in the relevant sessions. Swim TT pace = pace per 100m; bike TT pace = kmph; run TT pace = kmph.
Dermott’s 4 top tips for sprint
1. Focus on time-saving
Practise the race skills that will save time, such as body position on the bike, overtaking and hill running. Use each person in front of you as an opportunity to gain places.
2. Train to sprint
Sprint racing is at the top end of the comfort scale so train your body to operate better at that level. You will adapt and get stronger with each tough session.
3. Head outdoors
Get in open water as much as you can. You also want to practise swimming in close contact with other swimmers, so it can’t faze you or disrupt your swim.
4. Practise fuelling
Practise your nutrition plan for a sprint tri. You’ll need to take on fuel and fluids and work out the best timing and quantities for you.