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American Family Children's Hospital

Preparing for Sprint Distance Triathlons

UW Health Sports Medicine sprint distance triathlon trainingUW HealthSports Medicine's staff of exercise physiologists can help aspiring triathletes prepare for sprint distance triathlons.
What is a sprint distance triathlon?
Sprint triathlons involve a swim, bike and run completed continuously in this order and usually involve distances of:

Swim: .24-.62 miles

Bike: 5-15 miles

UW Health Sports Medicine sprint distance triathlon trainingRun: 1-3 miles


Tips: Swimming

  • Try to get two swims workouts in per week
  • Train in a lake, to get used to the choppy water and temperature, to improve your balance and to focus your vision (bring a partner, if possible)
  • Sound swimming mechanics make this element less fearful
  • Be prepared for the "pool of piranhas" - there is a lot of maneuvering and positioning at the start of the swim
Tips: Biking
  • Try to get two to three bike workouts per week
  • Strive for safety, comfort, aerodynamics and power (in that order)
  • Strategy is the key to success, and successful bikers stake out a lead and hold on rather than hang back and try to catch up
  • Learn how to change your own bike tires
  • Must have: Good fitting bike with appropriate "top tube length" (from handles to seat) and comfortable saddle, bike shorts or padded undergarment, fluid bottle and cage (or camel pack), sunglasses, well-fitting bike helmet
  • Nice to have: Gloves, biking shoes and associated pedals, bike shirt with back pockets for food, fluids, cell phone, clothing to keep sun off of your shoulders and back, aerobars
Tips: Running
  • Try to get two to three run workouts in per week
  • Improved technique can greatly benefit your economy: Compact stride, stay tall but avoid excessive vertical component, minimal ground contact time
  • Strive to feel and finish strong
  • Often ignored but the most brutal component of the triathlon
Tips: Transitions - The Glue That Holds It All Together
  • Create a plan and practice it
  • Mark your spot – a unique identifier - and begin to focus at the conclusion of each element
  • Stick to the plan and keep the focus on you and not others
  • Find space and use your time wisely
  • Ask if you’re having problems, seek out a volunteer to help
  • Remain calm