Triathlon Race Pace Calculator

Plan your swim, bike and run pacing strategies for triathlon events

By MyProCoach

Ready to take your triathlon game to the next level?

Introducing the ultimate tool for achieving your personal best – our custom triathlon race pace calculator!

Whether you’re new to triathlon, or a seasoned athlete, a well planned triathlon race pace strategy can make or break your race. 

Accurate triathlon pacing improves your chances of feeling strong throughout your event, without fading away. It also helps your gut cope better with in-race hydration and nutrition, which further increases your chances of having a great race.

Using this calculator, you can plan your triathlon race pacing based on your current fitness, rather than guesswork. It uses “thresholds”, which are simply a yardstick of your current fitness. One example is Functional Threshold Power (or FTP), which you may have heard of. Or you can keep things simple by using Rate of Perceived Exertion, which is a score out of 10.

So, go ahead and give it a try! And remember, the more accurate your thresholds are, the more accurate your pacing guide will be.

Step One
Choose your event distance

Step Two
Select an intensity measure for each discipline

Step Three
Enter your current threshold or level

Race Pace Calculator




Performance Level?

Race Pace Calculator: Everything you need to know

Ways to Measure Your Effort

  1. Bike Power
  2. Run Pace
  3. Heart Rate
  4. Rate of Perceived Exertion (feel)*

*Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE) is a measure out of 10, that describes how hard you’re working. A score of “1” represents your easiest exercise effort, while 10 represents your hardest. As you exercise, ask yourself “how difficult does this feel?” and give it a score out of ten. The harder it feels to maintain, the higher the score.

  • Rate of Perceived Exertion (feel)

From a practical point of view, rate of perceived exertion works best.

Racing in open water can have many varying factors (such as chop, wetsuit/non-wetsuit and more). These make it hard to relate your swim speed in the pool to what you might achieve on race day.

  • Power (watts)
  • Heart Rate (bpm)
  • Rate of Perceived Exertion (feel)

Use a power meter (if you have one) to pace yourself on the bike, with heart rate and “feel” as back-up measures. If you don’t have a power meter, just use heart rate and “feel” instead.

  • Pace (min:secs/km or mile)
  • Heart Rate (bpm)
  • Rate of Perceived Exertion (feel)

To gauge your intensity on the run, use a combination of heart rate, pace and “feel”. None of these measures are completely reliable in isolation, because there are so many things that can affect them – such as wind direction, gradient, terrain, weather and cardiac drift (an increase in heart rate due to heat stress).

Ways to Measure Your Thresholds

Thresholds are a way to benchmark your fitness and ability. Using your bike and run threshold data, the calculator determines a guide race pace/effort according to your event distances.

Your Functional Threshold Power (FTP) is your best average power output for a one-hour steady state time trial. Your Bike Threshold Heart Rate is your average heart rate over the same one-hour time trial.

If you don’t want to perform a one hour time trial, find out more about how to test and calculate your FTP and Bike Threshold HR using this 20-minute Functional Threshold Power (FTP) Fitness Test.

Your Threshold Run Pace is your current best average pace (min/km or mile) for a 60-minute race. Your Run Threshold Heart Rate is your average heart rate over the same 60-minute race.

If you don’t have a recent race time, calculate your pace and heart rate thresholds by performing this 30-minute Threshold Run Test

How to Use Training Zones

Training zones enable you to race at the correct planned intensity, according to your thresholds and level.

We use five zones to show you how much effort (in terms of rate of perceived exertion, heart rate, pace or power) to apply.

How your Training Zones should feel.

  • Zone 1: Easy
  • Zone 2: Steady
  • Zone 3: Moderately Hard
  • Zone 4: Hard
  • Zone 5: Very Hard

Check this downloadable PDF version of our training zones table for a more detailed view.

About Your Performance Level

There are six performance levels for you to choose from when using heart rate or RPE as a measure. The ‘+’ sign indicates you are towards the upper range of your chosen level.

  1. Advanced +
  2. Advanced
  3. Intermediate +
  4. Intermediate
  5. Beginner +
  6. Beginner

In the absence of a known performance threshold (such as pace or power), the calculator uses your performance level to offer guidance for heart rate ranges and feel.

Select your performance level carefully according to your ability and race experience. For example:

  • If you have raced at your goal event distance before and expect to finish in the top 25% overall you might choose Advanced or Advanced +
  • A mid-pack finisher would more likely be Intermediate or Intermediate + 
  • If your goal is just to finish, then choose Beginner or Beginner +

Be realistic and choose your current performance level (rather than one you aspire to be). 

When using Heart Rate as a measure, you will need to choose a performance level that closely reflects your ability and experience.

The calculator will use your threshold and performance level to show your guide average bpm for the bike and run.

For RPE, select a performance level that closely reflects your ability and racing experience.

The calculator will show you how your effort should ‘feel’ in each leg (from ‘very easy’ to ‘very hard’).


Unique characteristics of your event and other influencing factors can affect your outcomes on race day, such as:

  1. Total elevation and gradients
  2. Swim environment and conditions
  3. Race climate and weather
  4. Route specifics (such as terrain, narrow course, start type)
  5. Success of nutrition strategy
  6. Proper taper, recent illness, interrupted training, sleep quality in taper week

When putting your pacing strategy together, consider what may affect your pace on race day. For example, if you run is hilly, you will better to measure effort with Heart Rate or RPE.

Stay in control of your effort and be prepared to make adjustments.

Your finish time will depend on many factors, including your training and racing experience, and your target race course and conditions.

With appropriately levelled and professionally structured training, you should expect to see an improvement in results over time (all things being equal).

Improvements depend on the quality of previous training and where you are on your performance improvement curve (usually, the more experienced you are, the more this flattens).

With the many variables that can affect your pacing, performance and outcome. You may need to adjust your strategy on the day, prepare to be flexible.

Stay calm and efficient in transition. Sprinting through, will elevate your heart rate, which will add fatigue meaning you may lose more time later in the race.

Triathlon Transitions, 10 Essential Tips

The calculator will give the best results if you use accurate and up-to-date threshold data (bike power and run pace).

If you don’t know your current thresholds, you will need to enter your Performance Level guide for your pacing strategy.

In MyProCoach training plans you will find fitness tests scheduled to determine your current thresholds.

In developing the algorithm for this calculator I used this blog by Joe Friel as a starting point (which references an IRONMAN bike pacing table by Rick Ashburn). I then applied our experience of working with 70,000+ amateur triathletes, to include swim and run calculations, plus guidance for all the main triathlon distances.

There are too many variables on race day to be able to use your pool threshold (critical swim speed) to pace your race.

From a practical point of view, using RPE (feel) works well. It saves you trying to look at your watch and allows you to focus on swimming efficiently.



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Planning Your Off-Season

You can start our Off-Season (Fitness Maintenance) plans anytime you like.

They’re designed to help you maintain a good level of fitness when you’re not specifically targeting an event, such as, during the off-season, or anytime you’re taking a break from racing.

Planning For Your Event

For the best outcome, input the date for your “A” target race and the tool will default to a plan that will fill that gap nicely. If you want, you can then adjust the plan length to start it on a different day.

Note that you can still work in other, smaller races during your plan too!

The longer plans start easier and progress more gradually. This has a bearing on the difficulty level you choose. For example, a 12-week plan starts off at a higher level than a 36-week plan because with 12 weeks left there’s not as much opportunity to build up slowly.
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