Do one of these repeatable tests every month to check the progress of your run fitness.
Doing frequent 5Ks or 10Ks is one way to find out if you’ve gained run speed, but because of the inconvenient weekend timing—hey, we have to get on our bikes after all—cost and recovery needed, it’s not a realistic gauge during triathlon season.
By using a consistent, quantifiable test that doesn’t take long to recover from, you’ll have a more accurate measure of progress, plus a more realistic vision of your real race pace. “Age-group athletes often have a false impression of their racing fitness because they measure it based on volume, or speeds in fractionalized (interval) workouts,” says Bobby McGee, an acclaimed triathlon and running coach who has assisted athletes in every Olympic Games since 1998. “Then they’re perplexed when they blow up in races at these incorrectly determined paces.”
Every three to four weeks during your season, incorporate one of the tests at right to measure your fitness gains. Focus on consistent, controlled pacing. It’s important, especially if you’re a beginner, not to “race” in training. “I strongly advise athletes not to kick or finish strongly in these efforts, but to run smoothly throughout to assist with recovery. Save those juices for race day!” McGee says.
Tests are ideally done on a track for repeatable results. Always incorporate a thorough 10–15-minute warm-up that includes strides and dynamic stretches. Don’t forget your watch!