How to Pace a Long Course Triathlon: Tactics for Swim, Bike, and Run

How to Pace a Long Course Triathlon: Tactics for Swim, Bike, and Run


With each segment impacting the next, triathlon really is one sport. There are a lot of reasons for a “bad” run, but improper pacing in the previous segments (i.e., the swim and the bike) is often a common cause. Here’s a guide to specific pacing strategies for your swim, bike, and run so you can finish strong on race day.


The swim might be the shortest portion of the race, but it sets the tone for the day and will impact your performance on the bike and run. While you may not win your goals during the swim, you certainly can lose them there.





Your race effort should follow your training protocol. For a 70.3, you may shoot for 85-90% of max; for 140.6, your effort may be in the 75-85% of max range. Ultimately, however, your experience will dictate the level of intensity that is appropriate for you as these ranges may not work for your individual ability.

It is also worth noting that technique is more important than effort, so it is important to swim at an effort during which you can maintain proper form. A mix of RPE and feel for the water should help drive this decision for pacing during the swim.


Understanding the rhythm of the course and your comfort level around other swimmers should play a role in how you plan to approach the swim course. Are you going to hug the buoy line? Stay outside the fray? Or you may want to start outside the commotion and work your way in closer to the buoy line. Determine your strategy, but if circumstances change, be flexible and adapt. Also, make sure you sight regularly so you can maintain as straight a line as possible relative to your strategy.


There is good reason to draft, as estimates say it can reduce energy expenditure by 30% and reduce overall time by up to 3 minutes or more for 2.4 miles. That is akin to years in swim math!



A triathlon bike is not about your fastest possible bike — it’s about an optimal bike that allows for a strong run. Based on your experience, there are varying degrees of wiggle room between bike effort and run effort. Determine these edges in training so you can ascertain the cost of energy expenditure on the bike in relation to energy availability for the run. This matters regardless of race duration.


You can use a variety of metrics to determine this “wiggle room”, such as intensity factor (IF). IF is a percentage of your threshold using either watts or heart rate. Below is a table of target IF ranges for different race durations. You can use these as general guides to help with your pacing strategy.

种族持续时间 IF-Power 如果是心率 RPE
Sprint Triathlon (10-18 mile bike) 88-98% FTP (functional threshold power) LTHR的93-100%(乳酸阈值心率) 9-10
奥林匹克铁人三项(25英里自行车) 85-95% FTP 90-97%的LTHR 8-9
70.3铁人三项(56英里自行车) 72-85%FTP 88-95%LTHR 6-7
140.6铁人三项(112英里自行车) 60-75% FTP 80-89%的LTHR 4-5
双重铁人三项(224英里+) Under 60% FTP 70-79%LTHR 3

Please note that these ranges should be tested and verified in training to determine what works best for you. There are always individual and external circumstances that will impact what is the appropriate target for you. For example, on a hot day, 70% of FTP may come with a different energy cost than it would on a day with moderate conditions. Also, note that power is a more reliable indicator of outcome effort than HR; however,人力资源应受到监控当它告诉您您的身体在任何一天的努力中如何反应。

For hills, you may increase the watt caps by 5-15% or so, depending on the nature of the hills and your bike fitness and experience. Heart rate caps can go to the bottom of the next zone. It’s worth noting that HR and RPE can take some time to “catch up”, so be smart with your hill strategy!

Training Stress Score (TSS)是您可以用来找出适当起搏的另一种方法,并且在模仿每周训练中的比赛压力方面特别有用。通过完成在比赛当天会产生的TSS或附近积累的训练游乐设施,您将为比赛当天的努力做好充分的准备。以下是一些常见铁人三项距离的自行车部分的目标TSS范围的概述:

  • 冲刺:最多60 TSS
  • 奥运会:90-120 TSS
  • 70.3:150-190 TSS
  • 140.6: 250-320 TSS
  • Double+: 500+ TSS

要确定IF和TSS之间的正确组合,您可以使用类似的工具Best Bike Splitto get an estimate of how long the bike will take, which in turn can help you plot the intensity that’s appropriate for both the duration and the terrain.


银行在前面经常导致更多的损失st time on the back half. While we may lose speed at the end of a race, especially in a long course, this should not be substantial (assuming proper fitness, a well-paced bike, and adequate fueling and hydration). The best racers are the ones who slow down the least.

A loss of speed in the second half is not necessarily an inevitable conclusion. It is possible to even (or negative) split the run. Practice this strategy in training and incorporate multiple bike-to-run bricks throughout your week.


In terms of intensity targets, use the following estimates in the table below as a general guide.

种族持续时间 人力资源 RPE TSS
Sprint Triathlon (5k) 95-100%LTHR 9-10 25-40
奥林匹克铁人三项(10K) 90-98% LTHR 8-9 50-70
70.3 Triathlon (13.1 miles) 88-95%LTHR 6-7 110-170
140.6 Triathlon (26.2 miles) 80-89%的LTHR 4-5 200-250
双重铁人三项(52.4英里+) Under 85% LTHR 3 400+

During the race, several factors can impact your ability to pace your best triathlon run. Be sure to:

  • Fuel and hydrate on the bike, as well as the run.
  • 适当地骑自行车的步调,因为自行车上的过度努力将等同于跑步效果不佳。
  • 将人力资源抬高至至少区域2。如果您发现它掉落了,请尝试一些步伐。
  • Work hills strategically. Run or hike up as appropriate, and practice running skillfully and quickly downhill.
  • Apply mental fitness skills for pain and fatigue management.


种族强劲and smart!


Barragán, R. et al. (2019, July). Effects of swimming intensity on triathlon performance. Retrieved from

Etxebarria, N. et al. (2013, September). Cycling Attributes That Enhance Running Performance After the Cycle Section in Triathlon. Retrieved from

洛佩斯,水et al。(2012年5月)。心率和车辆od Lactate Concentration Response After Each Segment of the Olympic Triathlon Event. Retrieved from


Peeling, P.D. et al. (2005, December). Effect of swimming intensity on subsequent cycling and overall triathlon performance. Retrieved from


Rothschild, J. & Crocker, G.H. (2019, April 5). Effects of a 2-km Swim on Markers of Cycling Performance in Elite Age-Group Triathletes. Retrieved from

Browse through the world's largest collection of triathlon, cycling and running plans to take the guesswork out of your training.