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 regular contributor to SHAPE.com, the host of NYRR's On The Run web + TV show, and a race announcer at events like the TCS New York City Marathon. She used to report for Newsweek but spent her free time squeezing in workouts. Now she freelances as a running reporter. She's run 7 marathons, 20 halves, 6 triathlons, sings in an '80s cover band, spoils her dog + travels compulsively.

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07 2014

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