As you get close to a goal race, finding that extra edge on race day is a combination of physical and mental preparation and both being and feeling ready. Training sessions that simulate race conditions ensure your body is physiologically ready and allows you to get your head in the game. Here are three ‘ace preparation workouts that one can use to prep for 70.3 and shorter races. Ideally done 3-6 weeks out (not on your taper week), after your main training weeks have been completed and the race gets closer.
Workout #1: Swim-Bike
The purpose of this workout is to practice the physiological demands of going straight from a swim to a bike effort. Many athletes have a hard time transitioning from the swim to the bike in races. This workout is a little below race effort so the athlete can practice the two disciplines back to back and build their confidence. The bike has hill repeats to build in some strength work following a short adaptation segment following the swim.
30 minutes at an intermediate to moderately hard effort (Zone 2/3). This is ideally done in the open water, but can be done in the pool as well if necessary.
Quickly transition to the bike:
15 minutes on flat roads at Z1-2 heart rate then
Hill Repeats: 6 x 3 minutes at Zone 3/4 on 2 minute recoveries or time to get back down to starting point
Cool down: 10 minutes @ low Zone 1 heart rate
Workout #2: Bike-Run
The purpose of this workout is to practice a tempo brick effort and to simulate the feeling of running fast off the bike in a race. One of the benefits of tempo brick off the bike, is to help an athlete move through the sensation of tired legs and learn to get up to speed. Athletes will feel tired legs coming off the bike section, then have to get their legs turning over in order to get up to effort quickly. You need to really focus and work hard on the bike in order to maintain mid to high zone 3 heart rate, then really dial in your run effort in order to get right up to high zone 3 and eventually build to low zone 4.
Bike: 15 minutes building from Zone 1 to Zone 2
Bike: 30 minutes: mid to high Zone 3
Quickly transition to run
Run: 15 minutes: high Zone 3 to low Zone 4
Cool down: 10 min jog at low Zone 1
Workout #3: Swim-Bike-Run
This is a very challenging set and can be used to prep for an Olympic distance race. It is a sub-threshold set and really gets an athlete used to putting out a high effort, recovering, and then going again. This is a great workout for building mental strength as well and the fortitude and mindset required to have a successful triathlon.
This workout can be done at a pool or open water setting. The bike should be done on a trainer on or near the pool deck or at the open water swim venue. The run should be performed on a relatively flat measured course right at the venue.
Warm up swim: 10 x 50 alternate free and choice stroke/ 4 x 50 as 25 sprint/25 easy on 15 seconds recovery
Repeat this superset 3 times
Swim: 400 yards/meters at goal race effort
Bike: 5 minutes building heart rate as quickly as possible to zone 4 and holding
Run: 400 meters at between 5k and 10k race pace – Zone 4 heart rate
Recover: 5 minutes active: i.e. walking, light jog.
Race preparation and race simulation sessions are a key tool in training for triathlon. They are specific and hard practices and should be used judiciously in training. Done properly, then help you become a better mental athlete and get your body fine-tuned for the demands of race day.
LifeSport coach Chris Thomas is a USAT certified coach who is currently ranked one of the top amateur triathletes in the world. Chris is certified to work with both youth and seniors. Contact Chris to share your goals, race faster, or master the Ironman distance.