Running in a Triathlon

By Bill Driskill

Total Body Fitness


Running may be the easiest part of a triathlon to do, but because the run is usually the last leg of the triathlon, after the swim and the bike, it can also be the most difficult part of the triathlon race. Most athletes will be more tired at the end of the race than at the start of the race, making finishing the run harder than they thought.

You can prepare for the run leg of a triathlon by purchasing a good pair of running shoes and comfortable running clothes. If they feel good and look good, you will run faster in them! Begin your run training by running half the distance of the race you are doing (if possible) and build up to completing the entire run distance two weeks before the race date. Run training for triathlons is best done with at least one full day of rest, and no more than four days, between run workouts.

When you arrive at the triathlon, place your run shoes and socks in the transition area along with any special run clothing: like a run hat or visor, number belt (that holds your race number around your waist), or sunglasses that you will need on the run. All of this should be set-up on a towel laid out on the ground under your bicycle.

In the triathlon, after the swim and bike, and when you are done with your Transition #2 – from bike to run, do not start at full speed – start easy on the run and then increase speed during the first part of the run.  This is called setting your pace. Most runners start too fast and end up finishing slow at the end. If you Set your own Pace, and Run your own Race, you will be strong at the finish. Always take water at the aid stations during the triathlon, and stop to drink if you need to – this will help your run performance.

After finishing the run in a triathlon it is important to continue moving – either an easy run or walk, long enough to cool down the body. Next is refueling your body with water, electrolytes, carbohydrates and protein, this will help keep your muscles strong and ready for your next workout. After the race it is always good to thank those that helped and supported you at the triathlon: your parents, the race staff and volunteers, and your fellow athletes that you competed against. Finally be positive about what you accomplished and feel good about your race.