How to Train for Aquabike

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Along with the growth of triathlon, other multisport formats have also risen in popularity: duathlon (bike-run and its variants) has been around for almost as long, aquathlons (swim-run) have branched into the unique SwimRun community.

Aquabike (swim-bike) has also steadily found a growing market: World Triathlon has been holding aquabike world championship races since 2017 after a long break since the 1998 Aquathlon World Championships in Noosa which had an aquabike category. USA Triathlon has had separate aquabike rankings since 2010.

It’s widely touted as a format where athletes who have issues with running can still enjoy the multisport experience. Racing long-course aquabike (2-kilometer swim, 80-kilometer bike) is also seen as a useful tune-up for the 70.3 distance with a shorter recovery period.

Our member Lucy Richardson was building for a big aquabike race, but asked what she should do about run training due to an injury.

“I’m currently injured and not running (Achilles i think) so just swim-biking anyways, but if/when I can run again soon do I still do much running? I think I do plan on doing 70.3 racing in the near future so is there enough time after my aquabike to start again with a tri program and therefore concentrate all on swim biking at the moment, or do some aerobic runs to keep the fitness up? And would I be best to look at Ironman distance training plans for this distance instead of 70.3?”

Coach Tim Ford answered:

“Hey Lucy, I would say to keep up the running if nothing else but to break up your training and also to keep some run fitness there so you aren’t starting from scratch.

“As for the plan to follow, personally, I would say the 70.3 plans would be better suited. Because you won’t be running you will be able to swim and run at a closer intensity to 70.3 racing than IM racing.

“If you have a plan, I am happy to have a look and make some tweaks if you like. Again, this is the approach I would take. Other coaches might take a different approach.”

Coach Jenna Seefried added:

“Definitely agree with Tim on the 70.3 plan. That distance is a lot more like 70.3 racing than Ironman in intensity, especially with no run afterwards you can go at a higher intensity on the bike anyways during the race. Just extend some of your long rides; a lot of 70.3 plans have you swimming that distance and more anyways.

“Once you’re healed up I would run aerobically a couple times a week, throw in some strides at times for neuromuscular efficiency — but don’t run hard enough that it hurts your bike and swim or risks injury again.

“The biggest thing I hear from athletes is getting yourself mentally ready to really push the bike. As triathletes we are always holding back a bit expecting that run, so learn to overcome that.”


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