How To Prepare For A Sprint & Olympic Distance Triathlon


For pool swim triathlons you do NOT need to be able to swim the total distance without stopping as you can rest at the shallow end. For open water swimming in lakes rivers sea etc where you cannot stand up you need to be able to swim up to 10% further in training so you can feel confident during the triathlon. Remember you may not swim in a straight line in open water hence the need to cover at least the race distance in training.

During the cycle section you can coast or free wheel if tired and you can walk during the run section but you need to stay afloat during the swim!

Learn to float on your back during training, this gives you confidence this is a great way to relax take a breath clean your googles then continue when swimming in open water.


For Sprint & Olympic distance events regular 10 & 25-mile time trials efforts against the clock as hard as you can go will reap rewards in the 8 weeks before an important event.
A short 5-15 minute easy run afterwards will improve your feel for the run section.
Training with people who are faster will also help but not more than once a week. Avoid the mistake of one session with a faster swimmer one session with a faster cyclist and run session with a faster runner until you have good technique and built up endurance in each individual discipline


Even a 5 minute run straight after a bike ride and help you get use to overcoming "Dead Leg Syndrome" the sensation you feel after cycling as though you do not own your own legs

Training with people who are faster will also help but only once a week or complete in your own 5km time trial agaainst the clock or local 5km run race. I find running out 2.5 km and turing back and trying to come back quicker is a great personal motivator.


Tips on your evening meal prior to race day
Avoid any red meat the night before your triathlon because it can take up to 18 hours to fully be digested. Best to eat pasta and white meats like chicken and fish, which are easier to digest.
On race morning you will then be able to eat your breakfast without too much problem.
Try and eat your last main meal before 7pm the night before so you can fully digest it for the next morning.
The night before avoids drinking alcohol because it is high in empty calories; it boosts your appetite, it can also reduce your body's efficiency to burn fat. Alcohol will affect your body’s ability to keep cool during the triathlon. You could wake up on race morning already dehydrated from even small amounts of alcohol and this will impair your performance.
Alcohol can stay in your system for more than 36 hours; if you have to drink alcohol reduce the chances of dehydration by drinking at least 500ml of water before you go to bed.
Drinking just plain water in the 2-3 days before your event can flush away vital minerals and salts and you could get cramp early in the event. To avoid this drink 50/50 fruit juice/water or electrolyte drinks, these are a much better choice than plain water.
Snack on fruits in the 2 days before and avoid going hungry.
Race Morning.
Have breakfast 2-4 hours before Triathlon.
It is normal to not feel hungry on race morning if you feel full on race morning just snack small amounts of fruit apples, bananas or energy bars up to 90 minutes before you are due to start.
Preferred pre race breakfast meal.
Toast butter with jam or honey (carbohydrate small amount of fat and simple sugars)
Banana for carbohydrate and potassium to help prevent cramping.
Cereal with milk (i.e. porridge slow releasing energy with milk for protein)
Orange Juice with water 50/50.
Have a spare snack and extra drink should the start be delayed.

Be prepared take your favourite bars out of their packet and stick them on to your bike frame. This will remind you to eat regularly. Some experienced triathletes actually cut them up into bite size portions then stick them on the frame and eat them at regular intervals.
You can set the alarm on your watch to go off every 15-20 minutes to remind you to eat and drink. This will give you a constant steady intake of calories at regular intervals.
Use what energy bars you normally have and practised with in training. Take an extra bar you may drop some or need a few extra calories due to working hard or the conditions may be cold.
Prepare for 4 seasons in one day on the bike where the wind chill is greatest, Freezing cold hot sunny windy
Have fun
Don't forget the sun block before the swim neck legs & arms no matter if it looks like raining it’s a long day.
Overcast days are often the days when athletes get sunburnt due to forgetting to protect themselves.

Sounds simple but read Triathlon race details before the day, no point arriving early and queuing up only to find you need your cycle helmet to register, which you have left in the car.
Take a drink to register if the queue line is long to get your race number etc, you can stay hydrated and calm, some athletes find sipping slowly while waiting keeps you relaxed.
Elite Triathletes think about every possible part of the Triathlon. The sounds created by the athletes in the swim, cycling and running. The call from marshals to call out your number etc etc.
Also the smell of rubber Wetsuit, Vaseline, Muddy water, Chlorine, Bike oil, warm up balm Carbohydrate drinks all get the athlete focused for the race.

To gain late Season Speed or last minute speed if you have a race only 4 weeks away. Try in the next few weeks half your normal intervals and make them harder, taking the time taken to complete the interval as rest.
Take shorter recoveries and split the session into half with a longer main recovery half way thru.
Instead of 10 x 400 metres running run 20 x 200 metres. 10x 200 metres then run 600 metres jog recovery before starting the next 10.
Don't forget a good warm up and warm down remembering to drink a carbohydrate drink during and after the main set before your warm down.
Remember to have an easy few days before to be rested and able to make these efforts fast. Also take an active easy recovery day the next day for that all-important recovery to happen.
Or have you ever tried half your speed work in the morning and half in the evening, great for keeping good form, remember to warm up well for the AM session especially if you are not use to doing harder training first thing.
Protection from the suns rays on race day.

A bright coloured towel laid on the ground below your bike helps you find your bike in the transition area. Try to remember where your bike is in the transition area by solid fixtures like a wall, a sign, a banner etc. The bright yellow coloured bike next to yours could be gone by the time you arrive back. Your own bright towel helps you find your correct place when you return from the cycle section.
Lay helmet upside down or hanging from bike so it is easy to get on.
Shoes laid out for easy access to get into, save minutes by using either camping toggles or elastic shoelaces rather than tying them up.
If you are wearing socks roll them down to the ankle to help get them on easier, wet feet can make you take 4 times as long to put them on.
The Triathlon.
15-10 minutes before you need to drink 330ml of either plain water or a weak carbohydrate or electrolyte solution (1-3%)
Sip this drink just before the triathlon, your kidneys will almost shut down while you compete, so you should have no need to go to the toilet and you can then use this fluid in the Triathlon.
If you are unable to warm up for the swim section do arm swings 10 of each forward and backward. 10 arm shrugs and 10 punches trying to avoid hitting anyone or anything. If you do not warm up for the swim you can take the whole triathlon to get going.
Swim goggles will leak for the following reasons.
If you tighten them up just before the start too tight, they may have never leaked before.
Making them too tight is no extra guarantee that they will be water tight, being too tight can change the way they fit on your face, which will result in allowing water to get inside them.
If you put goggles onto a wet face this can cause them to not seal properly as your skin needs to be dry to cause proper suction and also overlapping your goggles over the swim hat stops a proper seal.
Cycle in an easy gear high cadence (90-100rpm) when you start the cycle this allows the blood to be diverted from your swimming muscles to your cycling legs. Wait 2-4 minutes after starting the bike section before drinking because as soon as anything enters your stomach blood is diverted from your much-needed working muscles in your legs. Allow yourself time to get use to cycling before drinking
Being in an easy gear (high cadence) keeps the chain at full stretch and should stop the chain from coming off when you run with bike out of the transition area and start cycling.
For events lasting 60-120 minutes you need to drink 600-1000ml. It is much easier to drink on the bike. Plain water is harder to absorb so it is much better to have a carbohydrate or electrolyte drink for fast absorption even a tiny amount can help with performance rather than plain water.
Avoid drinking as you approach a hill. When climbing hills aim for more than 60 rpm that is more than one per second if you do not have a cadence sensor on your bike.
Spin your legs on down hill sections to keep the legs from seizing up, this will help you for climbing the next hill and running afterwards.
In the last 5 minutes of the bike section before the run increase your cadence by 10rpm to reduce the likelihood of dead leg syndrome.
Start the run with a short shuffle stride, if you try and over stride with tight hamstrings caused by the cycle leg your muscles will almost certainly remain short for the whole duration of this sprint distance triathlon.
Your legs will be tired from the run so you will need to use your arms to keep going.
Short arm movements help with shuffle strides while longer backward and forward movements improve your stride length.
Anything you drink in the last 10 minutes of the run will generally not be absorbed until you cross the finish line.
Save time by preparation.
Before the start do these few little tricks to save time.
Walk from swim to your racked bike before the start and recall where it is, pace yourself from where your bike is to the bike exit.
Know where you enter the transition area after the bike and where the run exit is.
You will be surprised how many people spend hours training to go fast only to lose minutes going the wrong way on race day.
To make events safer with one-way traffic and stop people bumping into one another often there can be 4 different places for entry and exit.
Use elastic shoelaces or quick release camping toggles much quicker than doing up shoelaces can save 30 seconds a shoe with wet hands from the swim.
One-piece tri suit quick drying to swim bike and run. Number elasticised belt and pin number on much quicker than putting on a top when you are wet. Mistakes to avoid.
Do not wear anything different that you have not tried before in training.
Do not change your position on your bike in the last 7 days before the triathlon because your body will not have time to adjust to the changes.
Preparing sports drink with twice the strength hoping this will make up for lack of training.

Super Sprint Triathlon (Pool) distance
Swim 400m Bike 20km Run 5km = 25.4km or
Swim = 0.25 mile
Bike = 12.5 miles
Run = 3.1 miles Total distance
Miles = 15.85 miles

Olympic distance
Swim 1.5km Bike 40km Run 10km = 51.5km or
Swim = 0.93 mile
Bike 40km = 24.85 miles
Run 10km = 6.21 miles
Miles 31.99 miles or rounded up 32 miles
Kilometres 51.5 km