Today a friend sent me a link to an interesting article by Michael McCormack, a triathlon coach and former Ironman champion. In it, he points out that “time-consuming long slow distance (training) will produce a long and slow race”. He goes on to state that speed and strength work not only helps you to race faster, but also builds endurance. So, if you’re looking to improve your race times, training for speed and power is a great way to get in shape and shave off those precious seconds.

One of the statements made that I find particularly interesting is “Your body will only do what it has been trained to do”. If you never train to be fast, you can’t expect to be at the front of the pack come race day.
Over the next couple months, I’d like to improve my race speed. So I’m trying to vary my workouts between endurance building and speed training sessions. For example, I might do a long “brick” workout, where I bike 25km and immediately follow that with a 5km run. For me, I’d consider this an endurance workout, since I’m not up to the Ironman or half-Ironman distances yet.

For my next workout, I’ll take a short bike ride to the track, to run some 400m sprints. Sprint a lap, take a rest, sprint a lap, take a rest. This sort of workout is great for training speed – if I can’t run 400m at sub 4:00/km pace, then I can’t really expect to run 5km at that pace, can I? But this type of workout also helps to build my endurance. If I do 10 laps, I’m running 4km – at a good pace. Considering that most of the Sprint Triathlon’s I’m considering entering only have a 5km run, these sort of workouts are great preparation for my race (or at least I’m telling myself that).

Back in my football playing days, we used a similar program in our summer training. Here we were much more speed and power focused. However, playing wide receiver meant that we put on a lot of miles over the course of a game. So we also needed that endurance base for the fourth quarter.

We had a sprint workout that consisted of 2 sets of 50 yard sprints. The goal was to keep each one under 7 seconds. We started with 2 sets of 5, and over the summer, worked up to 2 sets of 25. That’s equivalent to sprinting approximately 2.5km, which apparently is how much we’d run in the typical game (I think we used to get about 60 plays a game on offence, so 2 sets of 25 was pretty good preparation for two halves of football).

I’m going to continue trying to work these speed workouts into my triathlon preparation! Hopefully I see some good results! I’ll keep you posted over the next couple months!


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