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How to move up to a sprint triathlon

The traditional sprint triathlon distance includes a 750m swim, 20K bike and 5K run.

Sprint triathlon. Photo: Elk Lake Triathlon

Though it may not be a full day event (for example, an Ironman), training for any triathlon is a challenge. If you have done a few try-a-tri’s and are looking to make the jump to the sprint distance, here are five training tips from Nigel Gray, head coach of NRG Performance Training and former professional triathlete.

  1. When it comes to training for a triathlon, consistency is key. For a sprint, “Aim to get in three workouts in each sport per week,” says Gray.
  2. The first step is to build your endurance,” says Gray. “After that, you can start to add in some intensity to try to get faster.”

    Build your endurance and then add in intensity to go faster.
  3. “Test drive” the distance. As you build up your training volume, try to complete the sprint distance in each sport on its own. Be mindful of how your body feels during the effort, “This is a good gauge to see if you’re ready to do all three in a row,” says Gray.
  4. Do brick sessions. A run off the bike teaches you to run on tired legs. “Aim to run after at least one ride during the week,” says Gray. By doing a few of these sessions before your race, your body will become familiar to the “brick-like” feeling you have when running after cycling.
  5. From the pool to the lake. “Try to get in some open water swim practice,” says Gray. “It is important to feel comfortable in the open water and be able to translate your pool swims into a lake.”

    Open water swim in Clear Lake at the Riding Mountain Tri. Photo: Riding Mountain Tri

If a sprint triathlon happens to be your first triathlon, make sure you have the essential pieces of equipment. Because sprint triathlons are beginner-friendly, you can enter with whatever equipment you have on hand. The basic requirements are:

  1. Goggles
  2. A bathing suit or some moisture-wicking gear.
  3. A bike: a road bike with toe clips, a hybrid/commuter, or a mountain bike with slick tires
  4. A pair of running shoes

The beautiful thing about the sprint distance is that with some training in all three sports, a variety of abilities can take part in a triathlon. If doing a full triathlon isn’t your cup of tea, you can make a relay team of three – each member completing one discipline of triathlon.