Triathlon Run

5 Steps to Running Faster in a Triathlon

BY Tomek Kowalski

If you dread T2 and know you’ll be watching your time slip through your whole run, it’s time to take a look at this part of the triathlon. Luckily you don’t have to be a professional runner to make the most of this leg—here are some tips to get fitter, run more efficiently, and stop fearing your finish time.

Some athletes dread T2, and know they’ll be watching their times slip through the whole run. Luckily you don’t have to be a professional runner to make the most of this leg. Here are some tips to get fitter, more efficient, and stop fearing your finish time.

Improve your movement economics

Running on the treadmill helps to build the habit of maintaining a high running rhythm, even as fatigue increases. This is critical to good running in the long-course triathlon. Mobility is also important. Systematic rolling, stretching and mobility drills performed wisely are very effective, though running fast on a regular basis generally solves most mobility problems!

Run regularly on tired legs

Plan challenging running workouts after challenging cycling workouts, and consider brick training an indispensable part of your training program. The sequence of training sessions both during the day and the microcycle in general is a key aspect of the pre-race preparation phase. I recommend that experienced athletes run a few hours or one day after hard swimming or cycling training. It will help to automate the desired movement patterns and improve your movement economics at the relevant speeds.

Run a lot

Run a lot in the preparatory phase – no other variable correlates to such an extent with the race results as training volume. But remember to increase your running mileage gradually, as no other variable correlates to such an extent with injuries as too rapid an increase in the running mileage!

Be fresher off the bike—or the swim!

If you note significant differences between your results when running “dry” and when running in a triathlon, look for progress in the water, and on the bike. The deficit you feel in a race probably has to do with the energy you’ve spent on the other two legs.

In Poland, it is still common to hear that “endurance training is performed on the bike and on the run.” It’s true that an excellent running shape will be useless if you leave the T2 half-dead, dehydrated and with a considerable energy deficit. Hundreds of studies have been devoted to the relationship between the bike and the run, and it’s important to train methodically for both.

A lesser-discussed issue is the impact of the swim on running times. It is worth looking at your swimming training not only from the perspective of the results achieved, but also the energy spent. Jan Frodeno swims 40 kilometres a week to develop general aerobic endurance, not to swim faster. There are no shortcuts; you really have to spend the time to develop aerobic endurance in those swim-specific muscles. Once you can swim efficiently you’ll be able to enter your run as fresh as possible.

Get A Little Leaner

No, you don’t have to look like a Kenyan runner. Too much weight loss, or trying to copy the training of professional track athletes will not make your quadriceps hurt less! Just keep in mind that “kilograms don’t run.”

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Athletes’ Choice Winner: Triathlon

This article was one of the most popular on TrainingPeaks in 2018. To see all the winners, visit the Athletes’ Choice 2018 Page.

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Ultimate Ironman Training Guide

Training Guide

This guide is designed to be used as you train for an IRONMAN triathlon, with in-depth information on every part of the process. Each chapter is packed with tips, workouts, and insights from triathlon coaches, to give you all the tools you need to succeed.

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About Tomek Kowalski

Tomek Kowalski is a triathlon coach based in Poland, however he works with athletes from all over the world. He used to be the Head Coach for Polish Triathlon before the Rio Olympic Games. Right now Tomek focuses on long distance coaching via Trinergy (, the IRONMAN Triclub Global Champion in 2017 season. He works with both age-group and pro athletes, including IRONMAN Champions and IRONMAN World Championship age-group winners. Privately he is interested in turtles and a zillion of outdoor activities. Still, he wants his athletes to move fast and makes them spend time indoors prescribing  a solid amount of turbo and treadmill sessions year round.