Speedo Q&A 8: How to prepare for target races

Elite triathlete Helen Jenkins divulges her big race preparation secrets

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01/07/2011 at 10:34
Hello all,

This lunchtime (1-2pm) we're joined by GB triathlete Helen Jenkins who'll be answering your questions about preparing for races - how to pick a target race, plan your training and asess your progress and targets along the way.

Helen Jenkins (who we recently interviewed) was triathlon World Champion in 2008. Her accolades also include British Junior Champion of the year 2003 and Elite Champion of the year 2006

We're opening the discussion now Helen so can get answering your questions at 1pm (rather than having to deal with a rush of questions at once). 


01/07/2011 at 10:48

Afternoon Helen,

tapering- can you apply the same logic as for running events, so drop the volume/intensity for all activities?  Or can you still keep the bike and swimming volumes up as they are lower impact?


MTri    pirate
01/07/2011 at 10:56
Croeso Helen,

I'm competent in all three disciplines, but really don't have a preference, or a dominant one. With work and family issues, I sometimes struggle squeeze in the sessions required. IS there a discipline that you would recommend the time available be spent training on?

01/07/2011 at 11:36

Hello Helen

I have just completey my first half IM event (last weekend) and loved it. However, due to time/family etc it will be my longest event this year - but I still have a half marathon and some shorter distance tri's to look forward to. 

My question is - having spent the most part of this year concentrating on endurance/distance, what is a realistic proportion of speedwork to try and achieve whilst maintaining a good base level of fitness?

01/07/2011 at 11:42

Hi Helen,

Tapering - I have a non-target half IM in a little over a weeks time. I'd like to have a good race as a confidence boost and to see where I am but don't want to interrupt training too much. Should I take a rest day - and if so at the beginning of the week or nearer the event - or is reducing the volume and intensity in the second half of the week with just a couple of 30 minute sessions (including some efforts) in the two days before a better approach?


01/07/2011 at 11:46

Hi Helen - thanks for taking timeout to answer our questions.

Mine is - illness and injury this year have put my training for my target race way behind where I ought to be 5 weeks out. Would you advise putting in some quality sessions for the next 3 weeks and then doing just a 2 week taper cutting volume, keeping the intensity up and hoping it all comes together?

01/07/2011 at 13:01

Hi Helen,

How much resistance training do you do pre-season and what sort of programme of resistance training do you adopt during the season?

 The majority of people who I speak to who regularly do triathlons seem to omit resistance training altogether. There seems to be much more emphasis on doing the distance than improving power/strength  - any advice you think might help.


01/07/2011 at 13:06
Hi Kittenkat,
For the longer distance event, the run is going to come into play more than during the sprint distances. Because you're a runner you'll probably translate that onto the bike as well so again this will make more of a difference during a longer events. There's no harm in mixing up the distances just for some variety. The longer distances do require more training so pick distances that fit into your lifestyle in terms of training.
01/07/2011 at 13:08
Hi Ferrous
More so drop the intensity in the running but still drop the intensity in the other disciplines, biking and swimming.
01/07/2011 at 13:10
Hi Diolch,
The best thing is to keep all three disciplines balanced. Make the most out of your training by working on brick sessions which is practicing bike to run or swim to run. This can really shave a lot of time off and make a big difference.
01/07/2011 at 13:14
Hi MustTriHarder,

First of all well done for doing the longer distance. That longer distance should have built up your endurance which will take you through the year. I would say do one intense session in each of the disciplines leading up to the sprint event and this should sharpen up your speed and get you ready for the event.
01/07/2011 at 13:18
Hi Little Miss,
Taking a rest day is always handy. I usually take mine about 3 days before the event. Rest days are great not only physically but mentally as well, knowing that you've got that day off. What you've said is about right, lots of easier sessions with a few shorter, harder sessions just before the race, just to keep you sharp.

01/07/2011 at 13:21
Hi Ironwolf,
If you've you've been out sick for a while don't increase the intensity too quickly. You're better off having 5 steady weeks rather than 3 intense weeks and an easy 2 weeks. If you can have 5 healthy weeks with out sickness or injury then you will be better in the long run.
01/07/2011 at 13:25
Hi Luke,
I generally do 2 sessions a week throughout the winter and summer if I can maintain it. In the winter I do more weights but in the summer, when the season is approaching I don't want to do too much with weights as I don't want to tire myself out, so I do a lot less and just do body weights. I do think that it's important though.
01/07/2011 at 13:29
Hi Helen,

is it worth investing in good tri product (bike, wetsuit etc), does it make a difference?

01/07/2011 at 13:34
Hi Helen

i'm about to do my first triathlon - what are your top tips for a first timer!

01/07/2011 at 13:38
Hi Marianne,
You can do a triathlon using anything but as you get more into the sport and start progressing you should probably start investing better equipment. Triathlon specific wetsuits like the Speedo wetsuits are 100% better than using a surf wetsuit but in terms of shoes and decent running shoe are good for triathlon.
01/07/2011 at 13:48

Helen, what was the moment that you thougt "hell yeah, I love triathlon", was it one of those things you enjoyed then got good or did you enjoy it because you are good?

 Also, me and few mates were joking about triathlon being a mid life crisis sport. I recently visited NZ, their approach to kids doing TRI is fantastic, it seems to be in the country's blood - how do we do that here in the UK?

01/07/2011 at 13:52
Hi Runner,
First of all make sure that you've completed the distances in training and that you're able to do it.

Try and relax. Don't get too nervous, if you've trained then you will be able to get round.

Be prepared. Get down to the course nice and early so that you've got plenty of time to familarise yourself with the course and set up all of your equipment.

Lastly, just enjoy it.

Good luck,
Plum    pirate
01/07/2011 at 13:53


 I have a Half IM on sunday, not the "A" race for the year that is a full distance at the end of August. I am not planning much of a taper at all for this, will ride tonight quite hard but short (about 30 miles) but then have a run out on the bike to a cafe for tea and cake tomorrow as a concession to surviving on Sunday. I am planning to treat it as a long training day with support on tap......

Sensible or silly?

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