Coach FAQs: track workouts for triathletes

What are some of your favourite track workouts for Olympic-distance athletes?

If you’re looking to go faster, you must include quality speed work in your training programme. But you also need to train your body to be able to hold that speed for the full 10K.

1. Speed work is best done on a track, but can also be done on the road or a treadmill. If you have trouble keeping up your speed, the treadmill can be very helpful. The belt moving relentlessly under you leaves no room for slacking or slowing down. You can start your speed work with a simple fartlek of 30 seconds hard, 30 seconds easy, then working up as high as two minutes on, two off.

After several weeks of this, you can progress to higher intensity speed work. This requires adequate and full rest to ensure high quality. The work-to-rest ratio must be 1:2, minimally. (Sprinters will rest as much as 10 minutes after running 100-metre repeats!) For example, if you run 200 metres in 30 seconds, you need one to three minutes of jogging or walking for recovery. A sample workout would be 10–20 x 400. Maintain the quality with adequate recovery! The number of intervals (or the volume of intensity) depends on your experience and fitness level. In general for Olympic-distance athletes, start with 10 minutes of total speed effort and work up to 15 minutes.

2. Long intervals would be kilometre or mile repeats with less rest, but still enough to ensure quality of efforts. For example, 3–6 x 1-mile repeats, or 4–10 x 1K repeats with three to five minutes rest between intervals. Your work-to-rest ratio would be 1:0.5. As you get closer to your peak race, decrease the amount of recovery. This will help you be race ready in just a few weeks.

If you’re a seasoned athlete, you can do both of these hard runs in one week or alternate weeks starting 8–12 weeks out from your goal race. Work your speed, then teach your body to carry it and run strong to the end of the 10K. 

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