Pleasures And Risks Of Picking Up Your Pace For Ironman Swim T1 Bike T2 And Run


Hi folks,

FitOldDog is on the road again, just finished a great English Breakfast at Heathrow, and here is his trusty travel bag with training gear.

FitOldDog is on the road again, just finished a great English Breakfast at Heathrow, and here is his trusty travel bag with training gear.

As a triathlete I spend a lot of time working to increase my endurance and pace, whilst both come with some risks and lots of enjoyment. This will be brief as I’m sitting in Heathrow Airport awaiting my flight.

Swim: The key to improving pace in the swim is some technique, lots of conditioning, some more technique, lots more conditioning, and a good coach. The only real risks are overtraining your cardiovascular system (tiredness), dehydration, and strains to your lower back and rotator cuff muscles.

Transition 1: Practice, practice, practice, stay calm, dry hands and feet, if no wet suit stripper take care to avoid pulling a muscle as you desuit. Only risks are forgetting something if you don’t stay calm, such as your bike helmet, or some other thing that will get you disqualified – stay calm.

Bike: Bike fit, bike fit, bike fit, and solid conditioning, ride with faster cyclists to build a strong engine, usual pickup work to improve pace, careful use of PowerCranks, which will also help your run. Risk is working too close to your lactate threshold when you really need a solid aerobic engine (less is more), so your training strategy must carefully balance volume versus intensity.

Transition 2: This is a key point in the race, as you prepare for the marathon, and the only way to cut T2 time is to be both highly organized and very very calm. My coach, Chris Hauth, added one other very good twist to the transition from the bike to the run, which was, “just sit for 20 seconds, gather your thoughts, and give yourself a pat on the back for getting through the ride, before you prepare for the run.” I strongly recommend this, especially to Ironman beginners – only 20 seconds, mind you.

Run: increasing your pace on the run requires considerable attention to technique, and extremely cautious speed work, preferably with a skilled coach. This becomes increasingly treacherous as you age. The risk of increased running pace is injury, period. That said, I was talking to a highly experienced local runner one day, and she said that she had found that injuries occur more frequently when you run slowly. I can believe this, but the paradox is that when you do injure yourself at a faster pace the injuries are likely to be more severe.

Don’t forget the post-race nutrition, and all that stuff, and enjoy picking up your pace, injury free.

FINAL NOTE: consistency, the 10% (or thereabouts) rule, and body awareness are key to safely increasing pace and endurance.

-k @FitOldDog

Today’s workout:

Stretching, lengthening and core work in airports and airplanes.



  1. You must be in Madrid by now.

  2. Good thing you have awesome coaches! [We miss you already, Kevin. Travel safe – we’ll keep the window seat at J’s warm for you.]

  3. I’m no longer in Madrid (Marian) and thanks for missing me (Meg). It won’t be long, but my swimming will suffer without Rick. Have fun. -kevin

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Disclaimer: As a veterinarian, I do not provide medical advice for human animals. If you undertake or modify an exercise program, consult your medical advisors before doing so. Undertaking activities pursued by the author does not mean that he endorses your undertaking such activities, which is clearly your decision and responsibility. Be careful and sensible, please.