Preparing for Sprint Distance Triathlons

Tips to Train for a Triathlon from the experts at UW Health Sports Medicine

UW 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

Run: 1-3 miles


Tips: Swimming

  • Try to get two swim 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

Looking to improve your stroke? Consider a swim class


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. Consider a professional bike fit at the UW Health Sports Rehabilition Cyclists' Clinic
  • 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. UW Health's Runners Clinic can help you address run-related concerns.
  • 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

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