So, you’ve been doing triathlons for a few years, have been doing pretty well and you feel fitter than ever. However, the rapid rate of improvement that you experienced in the first few seasons seems to have hit a plateau. What should you do about it? It’s time you implemented some change to your program.

Whilst triathlon is a sport comprising three disciplines, the fastest swimmers and cyclists don’t often take line honours. You can set the race up with the swim and the ride, but it’s won or lost on the run.  A bit of effort to change a few things here can reap significant rewards towards your overall racing performance.

Take a bit of time to review what you’ve been doing with your run training over the last few seasons and it’s highly likely that the same routine and sessions pop up, year in, year out. The benefits of making some changes are two-fold:


1) Provide some different challenges to your body’s energy systems and;

2) Some much needed mental stimulation to your mind, enhancing your motivation levels.

The changes required to provide additional benefit may be as subtle as increasing the frequency of your run sessions during the week. Whilst the overall increased volume or intensity does not need to be large, the incorporation of drills, to focus you on your technique, plus some regular 75-100m run throughs in your recovery runs, can help to frequently remind you about your running economy.

It can be a useful exercise to review your historical program with a runner, a coach or another triathlete. The workshopping of ideas can challenge your thinking of the norm, which is likely to help you push the boundaries of what you’ve always done. A periodic increase in the length of your long run, beyond what you think you are capable of, can help to build both additional aerobic base and confidence in your running capability. If this can be completed within a group environment, especially at a different location with scenic terrain, it’s amazing how quickly the time will suddenly go.

Other options to consider include a dedicated block of strength work with hill repeats and some complementary gym work or a review of your running technique – video analysis can make any suggested aspects to focus on easier to understand and implement. Alternatively, joining up with a group of dedicated runners for one of their speed or tempo sessions each week for a phase during your off-season can provide a much needed stimulus. The sessions may be tougher than you’re used to, but some short-term modifications to your overall bike training load and session timing around this key run set will see you suddenly springboard your capability and confidence as a runner.

Another useful approach is to set yourself a goal within your run discipline that can serve as a strong motivator. The triathlon off-season abounds with plenty of great opportunities to try your hand at cross-country and road running races at a state level, each with a good depth of competition. Setting goals to show improvement in placing over a series of races can be a very achievable and satisfying objective.

Implement a few of these changes to your run training and both the psychological and physiological training effects will benefit you. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at the result when you front up to the start line of your next triathlon confidently thinking of yourself as both a triathlete and a runner.

About The Author

Stef Hanson. Chief.

Chief and founder of WITSUP

Serious about what I do, but don’t take myself too seriously

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