Sprint Triathlon Training: Swim, Bike and Run, Oh My!

Sprint Triathlon Training: Swimming and Biking and Running, Oh My!

Biking in Rhode Island (RunKarlaRun.com)

It’s that time of year: sprint triathlon training. Ever since I got bit by the multi-sport bug in 2011, my summers have been a mélange of cross-training activities. This year is no different: swimming and biking and running, oh my!

I got a later start than usual this year. I’ll blame it on the long, cold winter. But I know myself and know that the best way to get me to train is to sign up for something. So that’s what I did. I now have two triathlons on my calendar: the Newport Naval Station Triathlon in Newport, Rhode Island on Sunday, July 27 and the Triathlon Valleyfield in Salaberry-de-Valleyfield, Québec on Sunday, August 24.

Sprint Triathlon Training: Swimming, Biking and Running, Oh My!

Swimming in a friend’s pool (RunKarlaRun.com)

Sprint Triathlon Training

I’m two weeks into training, and I’ve managed to ride my bike three times and swim three times. One of my swims was in open water, which is a must for me before any open water race like the tri in Newport.

Since I’ve just started biking and swimming, my goal for the Newport Naval Station Triathlon is just to survive the 1/3 mile swim, 10.5-mile bike and 3.1-mile run.

Sprint Triathlon Training: Swimming, Biking and Running, Oh My!


Then with another five weeks of swimming and cycling, I’ll be able to take the Triathlon Valleyfield a bit more seriously. It’s a classic sprint with 750-meter swim, 20K bike and 5K run.

I’m also getting some new triathlon gear that will hopefully help me take things to the next level. See those toe clips on my pedals? Bye bye. I’m finally making the switch to clipless pedals.

If that goes well, I might consider stepping up to an Olympic distance triathlon if I can get more used to cycling, my nemesis. But for now, sprint triathlon training it is.

In addition to swimming and biking, I’ve done well squeezing in other workouts too, like yoga, calisthenics and fun activities like sailing.

My husband, Phil, and I slowly earned our American Sailing Association certifications over the years so that we could sail from time to time in the summer. Our favorite spot is Sail Newport, a public sailing center in Rhode Island where we’re able to rent a boat for 3-hours at a time. Sailing isn’t a workout quite like running, but there is some muscle involved on a windy day.

Sprint Triathlon Training: Swimming, Biking and Running, Oh My!

At the helm of a J/22 sailboat (RunKarlaRun.com)

Marathon Training

What I’ve been bad at is running. Aside from the 5-mile personal best I ran on July 6 at the Firecracker 8K, my runs have felt sluggish of late. I also haven’t run anything longer than those 5 miles since the Runner’s World Heartbreak Hill Half in June. Needless to say, I’ve been slacking there.

Sprint Triathlon Training: Swimming and Biking and Running, Oh My!

Running with Cinderella (RunKarlaRun.com)

But no more. Along with a weekly swim and bike to get me through spring triathlon training, I’ve laid out a 16-week marathon training plan for myself.

I’m not even sure that I’m running a fall marathon. I do have my eye on a few November races, but have yet to commit. The earliest one is 16-weeks out. So I’m starting the training to give myself the option, and I can always tack a few more weeks onto the training plan if I choose a later race. If I decide against running a marathon, I can use the training to finally—finally!—run that sub-2 hour half marathon I’m always yapping about.

From now through the end of the summer, I’ve got three runs, one bike and one swim per week. That should whip me into shape for my sprint triathlons and get me started with marathon training.

After a few weeks of easy running, I feel invigorated and excited to get back into it. Here goes something!

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Karla Bruning


Karla Bruning is a race announcer at the TCS New York City Marathon + other major events, TV host for the New York City Triathlon + contributor to Shape, Redbook, Runner's World + other publications. She used to report for Newsweek but spent her free time squeezing in workouts. Now it's her job. She's run 8 marathons, 30 halves, 10 triathlons + open water swims. When she's not running, talking about running or writing about running, she's snuggling her baby, spoiling her dog + compulsively traveling.


07 2014

16 Comments Add Yours ↓

The upper is the most recent comment

  1. 1

    Yay triathlon season!! I have one (maybe two) that I will be doing this year! I really need to hurry up and buy a good bike since I’d like to do more of them.
    Lauren @ Lauren’s Glass Slipper recently posted..Weekly Recap 7/14/14 – 7/20/14My Profile

    • Karla Bruning

      Yeah, I rented a bike for my first two tris and then bought one once I decided I wanted to do more tris. Good luck with your training!

  2. 3

    Yay, go you! I have one more tri coming up and I am seriously struggling to get my butt in the water to swim! And I feel like I am at such a disadvantage not having a road bike (let alone clip ins!)

    I struggled getting in the groove running for awhile too, but I feel like the past couple of weeks I’ve sort of gotten back on track!
    Danielle recently posted..Weekly Training RecapMy Profile

    • Karla Bruning

      Yes, a road bike makes a big difference and I’ve heard clipless pedals do too. Can’t wait to make the switch. If you like the tris enough this summer, you could always try a road bike for next summer! I rented a road bike for my first two tris before buying a bike. Wanted to make sure I like the sport enough before spending the money.

  3. 5

    It is so awesome that you do triathlons! I’m still so terrified of that swim! Can’t there be one where you only have to swim like 100 feet? I might be able to survive that one! lol But seriously, it’s amazing and you are a rock star! Oh, and sub-2 is calling your name…you got this! :)
    Kellie recently posted..Week In Training (and Not so Good with the Cooking) 7/14-7/20/14My Profile

    • Karla Bruning

      Thanks, Kellie! That’s how I feel about you and CrossFit! So amazing, and I’m too terrified to try it. You could do a duathlon if you want to change it up. Many of the tris I’ve done and seen have bike-run events without the swim.

  4. 7

    Congratulations on the training!!! I would love to do a triathlon someday :)

    Oh, and you’ll get that sub-2! Tempo runs and hill sprints helped me get there!
    Kaella (KaellaOnTheRun) recently posted..Tuesdays On The Run- Running On VacationMy Profile

    • Karla Bruning

      Thanks, Kaella! I think I really need to step-up my temp runs. That’s my weak spot.

  5. 9

    Yay!!! Sprint tri’s are definitely my first choice when it comes to racing, but I haven’t done one in almost three years now. I need to find my way back to the swimbike portion of a tri. Biking is definitely my nemesis of the three. I can’t wait to follow along with your training!
    Emily recently posted..2014 Biggest Loser 10KMy Profile

  6. 11

    Good luck on your training! Looks like you’ve got some good spots to do so.
    The lake I run around has a rule of no motors on the water. I’ve been lucky enough to get out there a few times on a sail boat. Just riding though. I’m still perplexed how they work when we’re going into the wind!!!
    Scott Evans recently posted..Social Runs, Hawt Runs, & Tex-Mex (guaranteed to not give the runs)My Profile

  7. 13

    Newport is this weekend! Have a great race (or at least have fun!). Yes, clipless pedals help a lot on the bike. Practise unclipping fast is my hot tip.
    The sailing will be good fun too (but you can’t claim it as a workout). I used to race small boats when I was in school – good fun.
    Ewen recently posted..2 Red Balloons at the Gold Coast HalfMy Profile

    • Karla Bruning

      Thank, Ewen! I’m just waiting for my shoes, then I’ll get the pedals. I’ll be sure to practice unclipping over and over and over again.

  8. 15

    I’m really curious to hear how you feel about the clipless pedals — I’ve only ever heard one person say they don’t necessarily make *that* much of a difference (or at least not enough for the kind of biking I do), but he’s the person I trust most about bikes. So …
    Sadye recently posted..A reality check right before RAGBRAIMy Profile

    • Karla Bruning

      I’ll be sure to let you know. Everyone tells me I’m going to instantly shave time from my bike leg, with more energy going into each pedal. While I hope that’s true, I suspect that more time in the saddle will make a bigger difference than the shoes and pedals. We’ll see!
      Karla Bruning recently posted..Pixie Dust Challenge Flys To Tinker Bell Half MarathonMy Profile


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