Training for Triathlon, Swimming, Cycling, and Running

General Training Principles

Barb and Wolf believe in the following principles, these principles can be applied to your own training and should be applied to all training and work you do with Aktiv Racing.


  • Quality always trumps quantity – in short, no more LSD. There is no advantage to logging overly long swims, runs, and rides if the speed and quality is absent. The concept of “long slow distance” (LSD) has been shown again and again to be ineffective and is an obsolete training concept. When you spend hours running and riding at a pace far below what you ever hope to achieve in racing you are doing nothing more than teaching and training your body to be very, very good at being slow. You are also wasting your Saturday or Sunday,
    • I feel compelled to elaborate on this point because some people jump to the defence of longer, ‘slower’ aerobic training. There is a time and a place for longer, slower training. What is important is to recognize that this is a) a type of training that should be the normal or standard form for all ‘long’ training, and b) should still be quantified such that you are in fact avoiding lots of lengthy ‘junk miles’.
    • A) a good coach and a good training plan can indicate to you where some longer, slower, aerobic training can be beneficial. It should NOT be the standard form of all your long rides and long runs. A greater percentage of your ‘long runs and rides’ should be done at or above race pace if you hope to run that pace on race day. My criticism of LSD is directed towards the suggestion that this is something you should do for all long runs and rides,
    • B) there is a lot of research to show what levels or percentages of your lactate threshold (LT) you may train or race at. If we use power on the bike as an example, if you know your LT watts (the maximum average wattage you can sustain for 60min), then you can train and race by a few commonly accepted benchmarks for age-group and novice-elite athletes. 100% of LT for Olympic Distances (and up to 110+% for short course), 85-90% of LT for 70.3 distance, and 70% of LT for Ironman. When I suggest that you’re long rides should be at ‘race pace’, if you’re key race you’re training for is an Ironman then you should be striving to do your long rides at 70% of LT. This same principle applies to your LT heart rate and pace for running. My criticism of LSD is directed towards those who use it as an excuse or reason to do their long runs or rides at well below 70% of LT, and doing so on a regular basis. Running at 50-60% of LT for some long aerobic training does have its benefits.       Running or riding far below LT for all your long training and simply referring to an epically slow or long Saturday or Sunday morning as your LSD day is the kind of training that will only teach you and train you to be really good at being slow.
    • My main point here can be illustrated by another bike example.       If you’re a triathlete training for an Ironman, it makes little sense to extend the current duration of your long ride unless you can sustain the current duration at least 70% of LT. There are some points in the season where you can simply go out for a long ride regardless of the effort. However, if you’re in the middle of your training season for Ironman, it makes little sense to ride for 5 hours this weekend if you can’t ride 4 hours yet at 70% of LT. You’re better off to do another 4 hour ride and work to hold 70% of LT for that whole period. Then you can extend your long ride to 4.5 or 5 hours and work to hold 70% of LY for that period before extending it.



  • When cycling and running, the use of a heart rate monitor, a foot-pod (for foot cadence), and a power meter in cycling, allows you to train at various percentages of your lactate threshold (LT). You may have your LT tested. Our club will do periodic test sets that can approximate your current LT for the purposes of training. Knowing your LT helps ensure that you’re training at effective intensity levels and not simply logging massive mileage so that you can fill in your training log with long hours and long distance runs and rides,


  • Putting in a 30hour training week at the intensity level of a reptile in Sudbury, in January, teaches you nothing other than to be very slow and inefficient. It also proves you have nothing else to do with your life. Learning to train at high intensity when required, and at relatively high percentages of LT when required, allows you to train more effectively, to avoid injury, and to significantly increase speed, strength, and fitness,


  • Always work on the things that you are not good at. If you’d like to get faster or better at something specific in triathlon, you need to work on those things you’re not already good at,


  • Always help and support others and never be afraid to share what you have learned. On a micro scale Aktiv Racing is a community club and we each stand to learn a great deal from each other. On a macro scale, swimming, biking, running, and triathlon are community sports. This community gets healthier, stronger, and their members enjoy more satisfaction when they support each other and learn from each other. Share everything you can to help others improve as you have,


Swim Training

General Thoughts for Triathletes

Kick – you have to. Anyone who tells you that you don’t have to kick because you’re saving your legs for the bike and run is probably getting out of the water behind you. This person likely has nearly the same swim pace (min/100m) that they did last year and the year before,


Pull Buoy – a pull buoy does not simulate wearing a wetsuit. It should be used with a band around your ankles so that you do not do any kicking while wearing the PB, and it should only be used part-time. When doing long sets of pull you should do percentages of the set with paddles, PB, and your band, some with just PB and band, and the rest with just a band. If you can’t do pull with a band-only yet, then this is a great thing work towards,


Watch – if you are swimming open water you may wear a watch. Wear it simply for tracking duration, or for recording, post workout, your actual swim distance if using a gps device. There should be no checking stroke rate or speed; you should be swimming. If you are in the pool you should never wear a watch. If there is a pace clock on the pool deck this is the clock you use. If there is no pace clock you should place your watch on the pool edge and use it for tracking times. The only exception to this is in a very busy, big city, public pool where the risk of a five-finger-discount is severe. In this case you may wear your watch.


Pool Etiquette for all Swimmers

These rules are paramount and help ensure that multiple people, swimming at various speeds and on various pace times, can share a single lane.

If you are new to a lane, or joining a lane where people are already swimming, get in the water carefully and make sure the other swimmers are aware of your presence before you start your laps. Take some time to determine what kinds of patterns or sets the swimmers are already doing. Ask if you are not sure, but do not stop a swimmer to do so. Wait for a swimmer who as stopped to ask for advice,


Adhere to the circle pattern that is dictated by the pool instructions. Often, by default we swim counter-clockwise in the lane. If there are multiple lanes it’s prudent to alternate direction of circling in each lane as to avoid hitting hands and heads (ie. One lane swims clockwise, one lane counter clockwise, and so on),


When swimming in a circle always do your turn (any turn; open turn, flip turn, ugly turn) at the middle of the wall. Once you can see the “T” on the end of the black line on the bottom of the pool you should be cutting diagonally towards the centre of the wall for your turn. As you turn, you push off out towards the outside of the lane again to continue swimming,


At the wall, the centre is always left clear. It should be clear for swimmers to either a) do their turn, or b) touch the wall and get a time off the pace clock before moving to the side (once you get your time immediately move to a side to clear the middle). Always stay to one side or the other when stopped at the wall. Do not impede a swimmer doing a turn or stopping to get a time,


The onus is on a faster swimmer to go around a slower swimmer. This is to be done without touching or impeding the slower swimmer in any way (no touching feet to indicate a pass). If you are the slower swimmer, never stop swimming to let someone pass; simply stick to the swimming pattern. If a slower swimmer always does their turns in the middle of the wall, and never stops abruptly to let someone pass, then a faster swimmer can do a turn to one side or another of a slower swimmer to get around, or they may pass in the middle of the lane if they do not impede swimmers in the other direction,


If you are starting a new interval, do not push off at the same time someone is approaching for their turn unless you know for sure you are the faster swimmer. Wait the 1-2s to let them turn. If you have to wait 5s or more for them to do their turn they are still too far away and you should go without waiting,


Always welcome new swimmers to your lane but take the time to explain the key rules of passing onus and where to turn,


Contact Us

Aktiv Life Inc.


Retail Store and Office

15 Lock Street, #101

St. Catharines (Port Dalhousie),

ON, L2N 5B6

Wolf: 905.931.3472

Barb: 905.931.0984

Store Hours


Monday: Closed

Tuesday: 12:00 – 18:00

Wednesday: 12:00 – 18:00

Thursday: 12:00 – 18:00

Friday: 12:00 – 18:00

Saturday: 10:00 – 17:00

Sunday: Closed

* Extended hours available by appointment – just email us.  We can be available to help meet your needs.

Any Questions?

Contact us directly:

(Wolf) 905.931.3472

(Barb) 905.931.0984


What’s New?


November 15th

on the Bruce Trail by Brock University

Distance options: 3km, 6km, 12km, 18km, 24km


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