Perfect Practice: Train to Race

Triathletes running into transition from bike to run
January 30, 2017

D3 Staff


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Vince Lombardi once said, "Practice does not make perfect. Only perfect practice makes perfect." When applied to triathlon training, this sentiment underscores the importance of preparing yourself to race at your best. Are your workouts tailored to train both your mind and body for race conditions? Below are race simulation workouts categorized by discipline to help you get race-ready.

Do you have a target time in mind for your swim split? Have you practiced that pace? Try the following workout to not only test the feasibility of your goal but also remind your body what it will feel like.
- Thorough warm-up
- Determine race pace: If your goal is a 1000-meter swim in 15 minutes, your pace per 100 meters will be 90 seconds. Maintain an even pace as distances increase. Try to make the last 4 x 100s faster than the first set.
- 4 x 100 at race pace (10 seconds rest), 2 x 200 (15 seconds), 1 x 400 (20 seconds), 2 x 200 (15 seconds), 4 x 100 (10 seconds)
- Sufficient cool-down

How many of us go to a race without having ridden the course? Ride the course! Familiarize yourself with the curves, hills, and road conditions. Practice accelerating from the starting line and navigating hills and turns safely. Here's a way to simulate race surges on the bike:
- Ride with a partner stronger than you
- After a 20-30 minute warm-up, do a fartlek workout based on your partner's surges for 30 minutes. Maintain just below race pace.

Simulate running at the end of a triathlon by practicing running fast on tired legs.
- Finish the last 10% of your long run at race pace or 20 seconds slower than your goal pace.
- After warming up, run one mile at hard effort (5k race pace), then 2 x 800 or 4 x 400 at the same pace.

Swim to Bike:
- Set up transition area with race gear and nutrition.
- Warm-up in cold water.
- Swim 10 minutes at close to race pace, exit water, practice transition, and mount bike.
- Ride at a moderate effort for 15-20 minutes before settling into a longer ride at zone 2-3 heart rate.

Bike to Run:
- Bike 45 minutes at an easy to moderate pace, then transition to running shoes.
- Run one mile just below goal race pace, then do a 2-mile loop at race pace.
- Return to the track for an 800 at goal race pace.
- Repeat bike-run sequence 3 more times.

**Nutrition and Mental Preparation:**
- Practice eating during your race simulations as you plan to eat during the actual race.
- Make a checklist for your race simulation preparations.
- Conduct the simulation at the same time of day as your planned race to practice appropriate nutrition and mental talk.

Incorporate these race simulation workouts into your training regimen to fine-tune your performance and ensure you're ready to tackle your next triathlon with confidence.

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