Race day tips for running success

How to nail your triathlon run

The run is the part of a triathlon where a race is more often than not won or lost and as soon as your feet hit feet transition, you'll have a good idea whether you pushed too hard on the bike or whether you paced everything well.

Written by Will Clarke

Will is a British triathlete. He's a former U23 World and European Champion, competed at Beijing 2008 and has twice been British national champion.  He now competes on the World Ironman 70:3 circuit.


If it’s all gone according to plan, then you should be able to push on for the rest of the race. The run is usually the most demanding part of a race because it's the point where you're at your most tired but you're also close enough to the finish to afford to open up and push that little bit harder. Running is nowhere near as technical as swimming or cycling but there are still plenty of tricks to get you to the finish line faster. 

Start the running section strongly

Pacing is always essential for a successful race and it's best to start out with ambition. You need to get you into your stride quickly, which also serve to put off other competitors around you. Before long though, you should settle into a more realistic and sustainable pace with the aim of building towards the finish.

Triathlon hill strategy

One common mistake many people make is to really work the hills but that's not a good idea unless you're trying to get rid of competition. The reasons it isn’t a great idea is because it can easily fry your legs. If you think about it you wouldn't suddenly start accelerating way above your pace on the flat, so why would you drain yourself on the hills? It's best to back off on the hills and push over the top to get back up to speed and if you have that extra energy to burn, you can do so on the downhill and flat sections where you will definitely move much faster! 

Race distance strategy

If you're troubled by making the distance, for example if it's a longer distance race, then another good tactic can be to walk the aid stations, giving yourself mini targets and allowing yourself to fuel up and hydrate properly. Ice is also your best friend in hot races. Try putting it down your race top and hold it in your hands while you’re running as this will lower your core temperature. However it's not worth drinking in the last 15 minutes of any race as you won't see any benefit in that time. Although I'll admit it's nice to cool you down, all you'll have is more liquid and food sloshing around in the belly.

Course knowledge goes a long way

Knowing the course is also useful. It's good for morale to know what lies ahead and where you stand.  Most importantly you have to know where the finish line is and when to plan your attack.  I often like to count 400m back from the finish line so when you hit that point in a race you’re not scared to give it your all. Think of it as being just like every track session you did before this point, but just one more lap! 

Pacing and slip-streaming

After settling into your rhythm you'll hopefully be able to work out which athletes around you are moving at the same speed as you or ideally a tiny bit faster. You can save yourself some energy here by running directly behind them, using them as a shield from the wind and pacing off them. They'll probably encourage you to swap turns but if they're stronger athletes refuse their offer and only come round them when you're ready to go it alone or run for the win!

Get the footwear right

The right footwear is essential for racing. I'd always advise getting a pair of racing flats with elastic so you feel swifter on your feet and save time doing up your laces. Also get hold of some super glue so you can stick down your inner soles as often the sole will roll up and bunch at the end of your shoe and I had a friend who had a stress fracture in his toe from running 10k like that. Best of luck out there!

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