Fitness tests are one way to track your triathlon training progress, every 8-12 weeks. If you are Multisport athlete, we outline a swim, bike and run test protocol. They are best executed at the beginning of a new training phase and at the end of a recovery week, on a day you feel rested.
1. The Swim Test Protocol:
A common test I like to use is a 1k meter or yard swim to get your various, training paces, recovery, endurance, tempo, threshold and speed. I have also used a Critical Swim Speed (CSS) test which consists of a 400 and 200. Whatever test you can do, is baseline and repeatable. Send me a swim video for analysis if you are struggling and swim over 2:00 / 100 yard pace. Check out our How to Swim Faster in 30 day course.
2. The Bike Fitness Protocol
I discuss the test protocol here. We use the traditional 20 minute FTP test protocol. What is FTP? There is also a ramp and 8/3 minute protocol you can use. Whatever you choose, repeat the same test when you retest. This simple test gives you a good idea of your current fitness and can also be used to set your power-based training zones for cycling.
3. The Run Test Protocol
The most common baseline test for running is a 3 mile best effort run. Joining a local weekend 5k event is best. I discuss more here. Running a 5k is a useful benchmark of your running fitness and is often used to create pace-based training zones. Depending on your fitness level, run or run walk a local 5k event or on your own around a measured track is best or on a course that is repeatable.
The three tests described above give you a starting assessment to help you determine your current fitness and training zones and can be repeated if you are feeling your zones are off and to assess your progression. For example, if you current endurance zone 4, RPE 8, is at a heart rate of 180, pace 10 minute per mile and over time, as your increases fitness, your zone 4, RPE 8, heart rate is 160 at 9:00 per mile pace, that is a sign of fitness.
Another thing to consider, is that you can’t expect big improvements every single time you redo the assements fitness tests. The path of improvement is not always linear.
You don’t necessarily need to change your training if you don’t set a new best score in a test. It’s hard to continually improve at all three disciplines and life also gets in the way sometimes. There are so many variables to consider, it’s usually better to step back and look at the long term trends before you make sweeping changes. And, of course to see more trends, keeping a detailed subjective training log
Join Our Awesome Newsletter!
When you sign up for our free newsletter, you’ll receive a weekly publication jam-packed with Health, Fitness and Performance Advice PLUS you'll receive a special 33% discount code to our Training Plans on Training Peaks and other exclusive sponsor deals! What are you waiting for!? Add your email below and click Subscribe.