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How to take on your first Olympic Distance triathlon

How to take on your first Olympic Distance triathlon

By Andrea Whitcombe

April 17, 2019

If you have successfully completed a Sprint Distance Triathlon or two, stepping up to a Standard Distance Triathlon might be your next goal.

A Standard Distance Triathlon or Olympic Distance as otherwise known, consists of a 1500m swim, 40k bike and a 10k run, double the length of a Sprint Tri. If you are concerned that you might not have the time to train twice as much, don’t panic! Training for the longer distance event doesn’t have to mean doubling every session, but 4-6 sessions per week is preferable.

Focus on the following for a smooth transition to the longer distance:

• Open water swimming sessions are of great importance if all your previous sprint races have been predominantly pool based. Practice in a similar body of water to that of your planned race if possible ie lake or sea. If you have time for only one swim per week, swap the pool session for an open water one nearer to race day. If you are able to swim train twice per week, use a pool session to work on technique and pace, and the open water to gain skills such as swimming in close proximity to others, drafting, sighting and dead starts.

• Lengthen your longest run to at least 8k (80% of run race distance). Do this gradually, increasing the time by no more than 10% each week. If you regularly run up to 10k, steadily stretch this out to 15k over the weeks.

• Include an aerobic bike ride of up to 3 hours or more if time permits. On occasions make this a brick session by running straight after your bike ride. Start at a 10 minute easy run and then progress this by a few minutes each week adding a little intensity the fitter you become.

• Threshold and endurance training will likely be an area to concentrate on as you should have plenty of speed from Sprint Tri Training. If you haven’t the time to add an extra bike or run, alternate between threshold and endurance workouts. Threshold is a pace that you could hold for up to an hour at a push. Incorporate 20-60 minutes of these efforts into your schedule to improve fitness.

• If you have one discipline that is much weaker than the others, this will become more obvious over the longer distance. Ideally, include an additional session on this discipline to bring it in line with the other two. Commonly the weakest discipline is also the sport that you enjoy the least, so it’s really important to have short term goals for motivation.

• Your nutritional needs will play an important part as you will be racing for much longer than 2 hours. Practice eating and drinking on your longer workouts so that you are confident that you’ll have enough energy towards the latter stages of the race.

• Pace judgement becomes more critical over the Standard distance. If you set off too hard and blow up it’s a long way to the finish! Practice in training, get to know what a below threshold pace feels like. How heavy is your breathing? Is it a rate of perceived effort of between 13-15 where 20 is maximum? Pace yourself accurately and the you will get the best results.

Race distances

Race distances

For the absolute beginners and children to the professional triathletes, the Castle Triathlon Series offers a wealth of race distances to suit all levels.

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Hosted at a selection of stunning and iconic castles across the UK, Ireland and France, the Castle Triathlon Series events all promise an inspirational and memorable race experience.

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Take part

We pride ourselves on offering a bespoke and tailored offering for all those wishing to take part; from first timers, old timers, juniors, female focus, elites, tri clubs, corporates, there’s a race for everyone!

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Trade your time for a free race place! We offer a Volunteer Scheme, whereby a free race is given in return for a day’s marshalling at any one of the Castle Triathlon Series events. (terms apply)

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