Ask Our Coaches: Training For A Sprint Triathlon In The Final Six Weeks


A 69-year old member of our community who had done 13 sprint triathlons in the past three years is seeking Our Coaches’ advice. In particular, he asked for advice on training for a sprint triathlon that is six weeks from now. He indicated he is not fast and often finishes near the end, so I assume his main goal is to finish this triathlon.

Our Coaches’ Replies

Following is the email string with the response from two two coaches.

Coach Kurt Madden

Congratulations on competing in these events, and as you prepare for your next event in approximately six weeks, you might want to consider the following:

  • Maintain your consistency with your training and I would suggest that you train in the range of five days a week. Sessions should be a variety of recovery and higher threshold sessions.
  • Do your best to have two training sessions before the race where you are doing some type of race simulation. Ideally, it would be four weeks and two weeks before your race. During your race rehearsals, focus on your pacing, transitions, and nutrition. Furthermore, do your best to simulate the actual race course during your race simulation.
  • Make sure all of your equipment that you will be using on race day is ready to go within two weeks of the race to make sure you are not rushing or scrambling just before the race.

In closing, as you continue to be active in the sport of triathlons, you should strongly consider using some level of subscription on TriDot. It will provide you will a customized, personalized, and optimized training program to get you race ready as well as help prevent injuries.

You can use this link to learn more about TriDot:


Kurt Madden


Coach Tony Washington

Thanks Terry and Kurt.

It’s always hard to add to Kurt. I’d also consider some mobility and stability workouts. Yoga is great to keep us all ready for the next workout and race. After the 6 week build to this race, add some strength work.

Rest, recovery and great nutrition will keep you training and racing for many years to come.


Tony Washington


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The Sweat Factor: Maximizing Performance in Triathlon Training

Sweat is part of our body’s physiological response to heat from both internal and external sources often experienced in our triathlon training.

In this post, we’ll explore the reason we sweat, compare the benefits of sweating through exercise versus sauna use, look at differences between saunas and steam rooms, discuss strategies for maximizing the benefits of sweating during exercise, and examine the unique considerations for older athletes with sweating.

Whether you’re a seasoned triathlete or a novice competitor, understanding the role of sweating in training can help you reach your peak performance on race day.

Sweat: It’s Personal

Learning about sweating is near and dear to me because I sweat a lot during exercise.

The stares of those around me who notice the puddles of sweat on each side of my stationary bike toward the end of a cycling class still intimidate me. Having seen me sweat during an earlier class, one woman changed bikes after I began setting up one next to her. She admitted she did not want my sweat getting on her; I couldn’t blame her.

And, I will always remember the sloshing sound that came from me as a 30-something woman slapped me on the back during the Lake Lanier Triathlon in Georgia.

Still, people have often told me that my sweating is a “good thing”.

Why Do We Sweat?

Sweating is our body’s natural mechanism for cooling during physical exertion or exposure to heat.

As we engage in exercise or face high temperatures, the brain signals the sweat glands to produce sweat, which evaporates from the skin to dissipate heat and maintain a stable internal temperature. This process, known as thermoregulation, is crucial for preventing overheating and ensuring optimal athletic performance during training and competition.

Related post: Pros and Cons of Running in the Heat

However, according to research published in Biology of Sport, “if heat production exceeds the body’s ability to dissipate it, an athlete’s Tc [core body temperature] will increase, often resulting in a reduction in pace or power output”. Science has proven the relationship between the body’s ability to cool itself and athletic performance.

Which is better: Sweating with exercise or sauna?

Sweating can occur during exercise and while sitting in a sauna. Is one better than the other?

Both offer unique benefits for triathlon training, though they serve different purposes. Exercise-induced sweating not only helps regulate body temperature but also provides cardiovascular benefits, improves endurance, and strengthens muscles.

Saunas provide a passive means of inducing sweat by exposing the body to high temperatures, promoting relaxation, stress relief, and potential detoxification. Surprising me are the many research-based benefits to an athlete of sitting in a sauna after a workout.

This table includes a comparison of the most common types of saunas used by endurance athletes.

Dry (also known as “Finnish sauna”)InfraredSteam
Temperature, typical160°F to 200°F
(70°C to 95°C)
120°F to 150°F
(49°C to 66°C)
110°F to 120°F
(43°C to 49°C)
Relative humidityaround 5%5% to 20% at or near 100%
Main applications for endurance athletes-increase circulation
-increase heat tolerance
-faster recovery and reduced muscle soreness through deeper penetration of heat
-increase circulation within the skin
-open up airways, loosen congestion, and alleviate symptoms of some respiratory conditions
-hydrate the skin
-promote physical and mental relaxation

The best sauna to support your triathlon training hinges on preference, training needs and goals, individual health considerations, and facilities you have available to you. Some athletes may prefer the intense heat and dry environment of a traditional dry sauna, while others may favor the gentle, penetrating heat of an infrared sauna or a moist, steamy environment that can be gentler on the respiratory system and may offer hydration benefits for the skin, especially important during cold, dry winters.

Regardless of the type of sauna used, incorporating sauna sessions into a triathlon training regimen can help athletes optimize performance, enhance recovery, and improve overall well-being.

Remember, consult with a healthcare professional before incorporating sauna sessions into your training routine, especially if you have any pre-existing medical conditions or concerns.

Make The Most of Sweat In Triathlon Training

To maximize the benefits of sweating during exercise, triathletes can employ various strategies:

  • Stay hydrated: Drink plenty of water before, during, and after exercise to replenish fluids lost through sweat and maintain optimal hydration. And while you are hydrating, consider your need for electrolytes.
  • Dress appropriately: Wear lightweight, moisture-wicking clothing to help with sweat evaporation to cool your body during workouts.
  • Choose the right environment: Exercise in well-ventilated areas or outdoors during cooler times of the day to prevent overheating and allow you to sweat longer.
  • Listen to your body: Pay attention to signs of dehydration or overheating. Adjust intensity or duration as appropriate. Take breaks as needed to prevent heat-related injuries.

Age-Specific Risks And Benefits of Sweating

Aging can affect how older athletes experience and benefit from the sweat in their triathlon training.

Certain risks increase with age. Older athletes may have reduced thermoregulatory efficiency, increasing the risk of overheating and heat-related illnesses during training or competition. Dehydration and electrolyte imbalances are also common concerns among older athletes, requiring careful attention to hydration and nutrition.

On the other hand, the benefits are significant. Despite age-related changes, regular exercise can help older athletes maintain cardiovascular health, muscle strength, and cognitive function. Sweating during exercise may also promote detoxification, improve mood, and enhance overall well-being in older adults.

Embrace The Sweat

Sweating is integral to triathlon training, facilitating thermoregulation, enhancing performance, and promoting overall health and well-being. By understanding the benefits of sweating, we can choose a course to help build strength and endurance and recover faster and more completely. The ideal approach may involve a combination of exercise and sauna induced sweating.

With a balanced approach to sweating in triathlon training, athletes of all ages can unlock their full potential and excel in their athletic pursuits.

What works for you?

Do you have a preference in the type of sauna you use? Why?

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Ten Years Later – Pat Johnson’s Triathlon Sequel

Pat Johnson completed her 28th triathlon at age 80. What has caused her to continue in the sport? What has she learned about triathlon over the past decade?

A Sequel Story

Ten years ago, Pat Johnson completed her first triathlon as part of a promise to her niece, Barb. The Senior Triathletes post titled “At Age 70, I Had 19 Days To My First Triathlon”—Pat Johnson’s Story describes her experience in preparing for that triathlon. Now, days after her 80th birthday, Pat completed her 28th sprint triathlon, this time with Barb.

First Triathlon of Her Eighties

The day began early, at 4 am, when Pat picked up Barb. Barb traveled from Colorado especially for Pat’s birthday and to do the Great Clermont Tri sprint triathlon with Pat.

Pat and Barb arrived at Waterfront Park in Clermont, Florida, also known as the “World’s Triathlon Destination”, at around 5 am, while still pitch dark. Through her ten-year triathlon career, Pat has learned to arrive at the race venue early, especially since she likes to get a parking space for her car close to the transition area.

As the sun rose, Pat could see that the 60 degrees morning air appeared angry, whipping up waves over Lake Minneola. During the triathlon swim, these waves made the swim more difficult than usual. Pat told me, “I have never done a triathlon swim with so big waves in which you are drinking water while swimming.”

Once the swim was over, things looked up. Barb rode with Pat during the entire bike leg, using a bike borrowed from one of Pat’s friend in The Villages. The two of them made one stop along the course, long enough for Barb to help a lady whose chain had come off.

After returning to the transition area, Pat and Barb racked their bikes, then took off on the run leg. Throughout her triathlon career, Pat, a competitive race walker, has walked instead of run. As with the bike leg, Pat and Barb completed this leg together, with a fast walk.

As the two approached the finish line, Pat saw her two nephews, who came from Minnesota to celebrate their aunt’s birthday. While the two had originally planned to surprise Aunt Pat, one of them had accidentally “let the cat out of the bag” during an earlier conversation.

After the awards ceremony, during which Pat received a first place age group award, the family headed off for a lunch at a Mexican restaurant. During lunch, the restaurant staff got wind of this meal being a birthday celebration. As they came up behind her singing and carrying a piece of flaming cheesecake, Pat nearly jumped out of her skin.

Pat’s birthday weekend with family was “delightful and a fantastic 80th birthday present.”

Pat Johnson, age 80, and her niece, Barb, coming out of the water at the Great Clermont Tri in Clermont, Florida. Pat has a wetsuit top over her triathlon suit and Barb and a full length sleeveless wetsuit.
Pat Johnson and her niece, Barb, coming out of the water at the Great Clermont Tri in Clermont, Florida

Why Continue With Triathlon?

What has prompted Pat to continue competing in triathlon throughout the past ten years?

Stay in shape

While Pat has won at least five first place age group awards, she claims to not be competitive. For Pat, triathlon is a hobby. Her real motivation for continuing to complete two to three triathlons each year over the past decade is to remain healthy and mobile.

Along that line, Pat tries to do some physical exercise every day. Some days, this is swimming. Other days, she goes for a long walk, bikes, or joins an exercise class with The Villages Triathlon Club.

“If I wouldn’t keep walking, biking or swimming each day, I wouldn’t be as healthy and mobile as I am.”

Pat holds herself to this by keeping a daily log of physical activity, writing down each activity and its distance. Having a triathlon on the calendar also helps her be consistent and intentional in training.

Inspire others to stay active

Pat completed her first sprint triathlon mainly because of Barb’s goal to complete an Ironman triathlon before age 40. Years later, Pat met a couple, both in their 90s, who did triathlons together. She has also seen families with young children at triathlon events, in which one parent competes in the race.

Experiences like these have caused Pat to encourage others to live a healthy life through triathlon. The positive remarks Pat often hears both during a triathlon and after finishing it from people who see her age on the back of one of her legs is evidence that she too is inspiring others.

Pat is also an unofficial ambassador for triathlon. She encourages those she meets at the swimming pool or those who enjoy biking or walking to consider doing a triathlon. “Triathlon is fun”, she tells them.

Even if the person knows little or nothing about triathlon, Pat assures them that there are plenty of people their age willing to help them prepare for a triathlon. There also seems to be a growing number of triathlon clubs for seniors.

Meet people

Pat loves people. My wife and I often golf or have dinner with Pat and her husband, Lou. In nearly every outing, Pat meets someone she knows or makes a new acquaintance.

Attend most triathlon events today and you will see all ages represented. Families with young children to older adults. And the camaraderie, especially among amateur athletes, is unbeatable. As the example of Barb reinstalling a dropped bike chain shows, triathletes encourage and even stop to help each other along the way.

For Pat, a triathlon is a place to meet new people and reconnect with family and friends. Triathlon is also an opportunity to tell others of her faith in Jesus Christ and remind herself of who has given her the ability to finish each race. For this reason, she proudly wears a temporary tattoo from the triathlon group, Tri4Him, on one of her arms during each race.

Never Too Old To Tri

Pat exemplifies the ‘You are never too old’ mantra on display within the sport of triathlon.

Are you on the fence about doing your first triathlon, yet have always wanted to? Pat and plenty of others in our community are eager to help you check this goal off your list.

Think You Are Too Old?

What questions do you have for Pat? Leave them in the Comments section below.

Comments: Please note that I review all comments before they are posted. You will be notified by email when your comment is approved. Even if you do not submit a comment, you may subscribe to be notified when a comment is published.

First Ironman Triathlon: Fun Facts

During my recent flight to Honolulu, Hawaii, I read “Where It All Began – The 1978 Hawaiian Iron Man Triathlon” by Tom Knoll.

In this book, Mr. Knoll describes how the iconic long course triathlon known today as IRONMAN® or IRONMAN 140.6 stemmed from a casual conversation between three guys in late 1977. He along with friends Dan Hedrickson and John Collins asked themselves what type of endurance athletes were the most fit. John and his wife Judy organized the first Iron Man race to help answer the question.

These pioneers of triathlon were onto something with their question and this race. In 2020, the value of the IRONMAN brand was $730 million. In 2022, the organization managing the IRONMAN brand had annual revenues estimated to be $260.1 million. It also had over 1,100 employees.

Here are some interesting tidbits about the first Iron Man triathlon from Tom Knoll’s record of this race.

Fun Facts About the First Iron Man Triathlon

Time and Date: 0700, Saturday, February 18, 1978

Basis for distances and courses for the three legs of the first Iron Man Triathlon

  • Swim: 2.4 mile Waikiki Roughwater Swim competition
  • Bike: 112 mile Dick Evans Around The Island Race
  • Run: 26.2 mile Honolulu Marathon

Number of registrants: 15

Registration fee: $5, including a hand-crafted finisher award and screen printing of a finisher’s blank t-shirt or sweatshirt. After the race, John Collins refunded $2 to each of the registrants since the costs came in under budget. (Does that happen anymore?)

The picture from the book’s cover included above shows the Iron Man finisher award produced by John Collins.

Swim details:

  • Location: Sans Souci Beach (now called Kaimana Beach) in Waikiki, between the Kaimana Beach Hotel and War Memorial Natatorium in Kapi’olani Regional Park.
  • Fastest swim: 57:35 by Archie Hapai.
  • Longest swim: 2:13:05 by Tom Knoll; used side and breast stroke and lost his goggles early in the swim.
Kaimana Beach in Waikiki in Honolulu Hawaii in 2024
Sans Souci Beach, now named Kaimana Beach, was the starting location for first Iron Man triathlon. This picture was taken at the beach on March 10, 2024, just over 46 years after the first Iron Man triathlon began here.

Bike details:

  • Course: counterclockwise around the island of Oahu on public roads.
  • Tom Knoll’s bike: 3-speed Free Spirit bike purchased new from Sears & Roebuck for $96.
  • Fastest bike: 6:56:00 by Gordon Haller.
  • Longest bike: 11:39:00 by Dan Hedrickson.

Run details:

  • Fastest run: 3:30:00 by Gordon Haller.
  • Longest run: 8:20:00 by Archie Hapai.


  • Number of finishers: 12
  • Top three finishers:
    • Gordon Haller: 11:46:40
    • John Dunbar: 12:20:27
    • Dave Orlowski: 13:54:15
  • Tom Knoll finished 6th
  • John Collins finished 9th

More History

Chapter 10 of this book includes a brief review of earlier triathlons, the earliest dating back to 1921. Throughout the book, you will learn what Tom and others from this first race did in the years following this race.

What Type of Endurance Athletes are the Most Fit?

I am not sure it’s that simple. However, you may. Leave your comments below to share your thoughts.

Comments: Please note that I review all comments before they are posted. You will be notified by email when your comment is approved. Even if you do not submit a comment, you may subscribe to be notified when a comment is published.

Affiliate Disclosure

® IRONMAN and IRONMAN 140.6 are registered trademarks of World Triathlon Corporation. 


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