Training for ultraendurance triathlons

Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1989 Oct;21(5 Suppl):S209-13.


There are wide individual variations in training distances and paces for each of the three activities involved in a triathlon. Peak weekly swim distances ranged from 1 to 20 miles, with an average weekly distance of 7.2 miles. Usual swim training pace varied from 17 to 50 min.mile-1, with an average swim training pace of 29.6 min.mile-1. Peak weekly cycling distances ranged from 15 to 435 miles; average was 227 miles. Cycling pace averaged 18.6 mph and ranged from 13 to 26 mph. Run distances ranged from 4 to 100 miles.wk-1 at paces between 5 1/2 and 14 min.mile-1. Average run training was 45 miles.wk-1 at a 7 min 42 s pace. There was little or no systematic difference in training between males and females. Younger triathletes, however, tended to train greater distances at faster paces. Faster finishers (less than 10.5 h in the Hawaii Ironman Triathlon) tended to average greater training distances at faster paces than slower finishers. There was, however, a great deal of overlap in training practices according to finish time. Faster finishers in the Hawaii Ironman Triathlon were able to maintain their training paces throughout all three activities of the triathlon. Large differences were seen between faster finishers and slower finishers, particularly in the ability to hold run training pace during the race. The reason for this remains unclear. Training distances appear to be more important than training paces in preparation for an ultraendurance triathlon.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Bicycling*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Physical Education and Training / methods*
  • Physical Endurance*
  • Running*
  • Sex Factors
  • Swimming*