One-Hour Workout: Swim-Bike-Run-Swim-Run Race Simulation

  • By Jené Shaw
  • Published Mar 4, 2014
  • Updated Mar 31, 2016 at 4:15 PM UTC
Tommy Zaferes competing at a super-sprint race. Photo: Aaron Hersh

Every Tuesday we’ll feature a different coach’s workout you can complete in 60 mins (or less!).

This week’s swim-bike-run-swim-run workout comes from USA Triathlon’s 2013 Development Coach of the Year, Kathleen Johnston. In her role as head coach for the Junior Elite and Youth Elite in the Southeast region, Nashville, Tenn.-based Johnston led the Southeast Junior High Performance Triathlon Team to a first place at USAT’s Development Team Championships.

Johnston says she likes this fast-paced race prep workout to sharpen reaction time. “It’s a good race simulation workout that is high intensity and really focuses on mental skills,” she says.

Set up a mini tri course in a safe area where you can swim about 100 meters, bike about a half-mile and run about a quarter mile. Set up a transition area like you would for a race, preferably with a bike rack (just leaning your bike against something will work too). This multi-sport workout mimics the super-sprint distance that is becoming more popular as of last year.

RELATED: Indoor Swim-Bike Bricks

Swim-Bike-Run-Swim-Run Race Simulation

After a proper 10–15 minute warm-up:
Do 2x (100-meter swim, 0.5-mile bike, 0.25-mile run) with a 10-minute recovery between reps. Reset your equipment for the next rep during this time.

“Focus on execution of the transition skills you need to do in a race,” Johnston says. “Take off your cap and goggles, put your helmet on, do a flying mount getting feet in and out of shoes during the short bike, do a flying dismount, rack your bike, take off your helmet, put on your run shoes and go. Do this quickly but not frantically.”

Finish the session with a race-pace effort of 100-meter swim, 0.5-mile bike, 0.25-mile run, 100-meter swim, 0.25-mile run.

Johnston’s advice for the last effort:
Don’t stress about how to execute the run to the second swim and the second run— allow yourself to make some mistakes and figure it out as you go. The swim after the run will get your attention both physically and mentally, as it’s really hard to start a swim with an elevated heart rate, plus you’ll have to think about things you don’t usually have to worry about, such as taking off your run shoes, getting your cap and goggles back on and then putting your run shoes on again. Just be sure to allow for some rest before doing a second rep and then finish the session with a good easy cool down swim.

RELATED: Triathlon Transition Gear Essentials For Beginners

More one-hour workouts.


Jené Shaw

Jené Shaw

Jené Shaw is a contributor for Triathlete magazine, a six-time Ironman finisher and a USAT Level 1 certified coach

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