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Old 05-09-2006, 10:16 AM   #8
Nicholas Burgett
Member Nicholas Burgett is offline
Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: San Antonio  TX
Posts: 489
I'm not going to be able to add anything extra that is of use to you from the technical standpoint that Eugene and Dr. G haven't already covered. I can however fill you in on my personal experience with triathlons as they relate to the advice given above as well as your question about the distances.

Whenever I've had a subpar performance in a tri, be it from not attaining a PR to flat out cracking like an egg on the run, I can almost always attribute it to a lack of preparation in the swim. One of the hidden "gotchas" that I had to learn the hard way is to respect the swim portion of the tri more than the cycling and running portions. It's a hard lesson and one that is easily overlooked.

By nature, from time spent in the race standpoint, the swim will generally comprise about 10-20% of the total time out on the course. For example, let's work with the typical sprint distances that Eugene described above. Assuming an 800m swim, if you are a fairly slow swimmer or new to swimming in a tri, a 2:30/l00m pace would not be unexpected. For 800m, that would mean you would be in the water for 20 minutes. Based on the 5k time you posted, I would assume that you should be able to hold about 18-20 mph on the bike for a typical 12-13 mile leg. This gives you ~40-45 minutes on the bike. Add in a 25 minute 5K, and a an estimated 5 minutes combined for T1 & T2 and you're at around 1:30:00 for the total race. In this example your swim time makes up a little over 20% of the total time.

The lesson that I've learned the hard way that I'd like to pass on to you is that you don't realize the amount of energy you expend during the swim portion of the race. It's completely out of proportion with the amount of time you spend.
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