Saturday, June 13, 2009

Philly Insurance Triathlon Coaching Tips - Part 3: Cycling Strategy and Running Tips

Last week was about the "how to" aspect of cycling, bike handling and cornering. Now it's time to put your technique and fitness into a game plan and execute on a fun but technical two lap course.

Cycling: Cycling Strategy
  1. As you head out of transition one onto West River Drive (MLK Dr.) make sure you have your gearing set in place. Be in an easy race gear that you can accelerate quickly. Get into your aero race position quickly and then shift into a larger (harder) race gear and stay to the right!

  2. Pacing on the hills. Minimal time is gained on the hills but significant time can be lost at the top. What do I mean by this? Many competitors will almost sprint at the bottom of the hill. Half way up, they are out of breath and searching for their easiest gear, and are then recovering on the flat terrain after the hill. Hold back just a little on the way up, and then accelerate over the top to quickly get back to full speed.

  3. Pacing. It is a two lap course with hills. Try and negative split (faster on second lap.) When getting close to T2, drink, stretch the back and legs, relax just a little in the last 1/2mile, and coast down that last hill into transition. Your run time will thank you for it!

  4. Drink while you ride! By the end of the bike leg you should have finished a minimum of one large bottle of water. It's much more difficult to drink while running. Use the flat sections on MLK or Kelly Drive to easily rehydrate if you are an inexperienced rider. For the more experienced, drinking while climbing the hills is best (while you are going slower), or just before the start of a climb while setting up for the turns and decelerating. I also recommend getting out of the aero position and stretching the back every now and again. It can make a big difference in positively setting up your run.

  5. Concentration is the key to success. Since the bike leg has many twists, turns, and hills you will be shifting constantly. Even on the "flats" along MLK and Kelly Drive, the road undulates and you should be constantly shifting gears to account for the variations in terrain. Significant time and muscular strength can be saved by using your gearing efficiently and not letting yourself get "bogged down" or "spun out" in a gear. Pay extra attention to the terrain around Strawberry Mansion, just before you head back to Kelly Drive. Also be aware on Lansdowne Hill, around Sweet Briar, and down Black Road.

Running Strategy and Tips:
  1. Get running off the bike right away! Make a quick T2 by using a tri-belt for your race number, and pull-tight or elastic shoe laces so that you don't spend excess time tying your shoes. These small changes can cut large amounts of time to your transition.

  2. The run takes place on MLK Drive and it is very flat. This is a great run course to PR in the 10k! During the run look ahead to be aware of the curves along the boulevard. Don't follow the crowd or those around you running the course. Take the shortest line through the curve, but be sure to stay on course!

  3. Almost halfway through the run you will move from running on the street to running on the grass, as you progress around the back of the transition area. The grass won't really change how you will run, but pay extra attention here to any possible divots or mud. One short section will be very wet and slippery as you run past the swim exit. Better to be slow and cautious then risk a muddy fall!

  4. Once you pass the transition area toward the end of the first 5k you will make your way onto MLK Drive heading toward the Art Museum. This last part of the run course will be out and back all on the drive. Be prepared for it to be hot! Be sure to get some hydration at every aid station, and pour a cup of water on your head if you need it. It's a great way to cool down!

  5. Once you hit the last turn around at the Art Museum you are approximately 1.5 miles from the finish. This is the time to start slowly building your kick to the finish. Your legs will be tired so concentrate on lifting your knees and maintaining a strong running form. When you can see the finish line, start your final sprint! This is the last little bit of the race so leave it all out on the course!

Enjoy the advice and if you want more information on personal swimming, running or cycling classes, triathlon camps, coaching, and race day equipment and bikes please e-mail or call (215) 508-4300.

Brian Walton
2003 USA Cycling Developmental coach of the Year
2004 USA Triathlon U23 Executive Cycling Coach

Jack Braconnier
Cadence Triathlon Coach
3 time All American Track and Field athlete at UConn


  1. Cycling is a good alternative the day after a hard run. The essential difference between cycling and running with respect to nutrition is the far greater amount of stomach jostling that occurs on the run.
    Training Schedules

  2. Nice article. I think it is useful and unique article. I love this kind of article and this kind of blog. I have enjoyed it very much. Thanks for your website.
    tips for triathlon

  3. Did you know that you can create short links with AdFly and earn dollars for every click on your short urls.