Home > Feature

New Year’s goal-setting: Make the jump from the sprint distance

Move up from the sprint distance in triathlon successfully with these tips.

We asked our readers which races they were planning for 2017 and many responded that they’re stepping up to the Olympic or half distance this year. If you’re newer to the sport or simply have focused on the sprint distance in previous years, why not set a New Year’s goal to try a longer race in 2017.

When moving up a distance, your body needs to ease into the greater training volume. Here are four tips to make your move to the longer distance successful.

1. Plan your training in blocks


As you increase your training load, time management becomes more crucial. Plan your training in weekly or monthly blocks so you can arrange the rest of your day-to-day activities ahead of time, too. Triathlon has the tendency to interfere with the rest of life, so make sure you have a good plan for how much training you’ll do and when you’ll do it. You’ll find you still have free time and can better balance the rest of your commitments.

2. Spend more time in the water

Many triathletes worry that they won’t be able to race a longer distance because of limited swimming ability. Olympic distance swims are at least double that of the sprint. Start getting in the water earlier in the training season and do longer sessions to feel confident for your target race. Attending a swim clinic, tri camp, master’s swim practices or just heading to the pool on your own more often are all great ways to boost your confidence in the water and help you swim better.

3. Bricks

Many triathletes can complete a sprint triathlon without a heavy emphasis on brick workouts in their training, but with a longer distance you’ll suffer if you haven’t sufficiently trained in this area. It’s not necessary to perform a long brick session every week, but be sure to have at least five under your belt before your target race. For added practice, consider a light run after a trainer session whenever possible. Even 10 minutes of running off the bike every week will make the run leg of your race feel easier.

4. Prepare to pace

The Olympic and half distance both require more pacing than the sprint. Get familiar with numbers that matter for pacing, like heart rate, wattage and speed. This is especially important on race day, as the excitement you’ll experience may lead you to start out as fast as you would in the sprint distance. Plan your pacing as your training season progresses so you’ll be mentally prepared during your race.