Triathlon Race Pace Calculator

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

By MyProCoach

Use this triathlon race pace calculator to plan your pacing strategy for your upcoming triathlon or IRONMAN event. 

Whether you’re new to triathlon, or a seasoned athlete, a well planned pacing strategy can make or break your race. The most common mistake is starting too fast, and then blowing-up later in the race. We’ve all done it.

Accurate 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 create a realistic pacing strategy, based on your current fitness. 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

Swim

Bike

Run

Performance Level?*

* How Will You Measure 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).

* 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’).

* What Is Your Current Threshold?

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

FAQ's

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.

Big news...
We've made some of our plans 100% FREE! Choose your event below...

*Plus, you’ll also receive free regular training tips from head coach Phil Mosley! Unsubscribe at any time.

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!

Unlimited Athlete Price Rise - Dec 1st 2021

As mentioned a couple of weeks ago, after 2 hugely successful years of our Unlimited Athlete subscription with over 1300 active members, we’ve decided to increase our prices for the first time on December 1st.

The feedback has been outstanding (rated 5.0 from 100’s of testimonials), and recently we’ve also added further personal coach time… For example, our coaches now check your personalised training zones are set up correctly, and also keep you accountable by getting in touch if you haven’t logged any training for 2 weeks.

So, to maintain this great customer service and to support our coaches, on Dec 1st we’re increasing both price options by $5 per month, or by $4 per month if you pay annually (but for all existing Unlimited Athletes, to give a fair warning, renewals will not increase in price until Feb 1st, 2022).

Lock-In Prices, Plus an Extra $20-Off!

For Black Friday, we are also giving a bonus $20 off any new annual subscription! Our annual prices are going up by $4 per month, or $48 per year. This means if you sign up this week with our bonus $20 off, you’ll be saving $68 compared to our future annual pricing.

Which comes down to as little as $3.55 per week for unlimited training plans and ongoing certified coach support. We can’t thank everyone enough for all your support!

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.
Short Medium Long
Duration
4-12 weeks
14-24 weeks
27+ weeks
Required fitness level
Higher
Moderate
Lower
Training phases
2~4
5~7
8+
Fitness tests
1~2
3~4
5+
Our Standard and Masters plans are designed to get you ready for your target event, while our Off-Season plans allow you to recover from a tough season but still maintain your well-earned fitness.
STANDARD MASTERS OFF-SEASON
Approx. age
Under 40
Over 40
Any
Recovery weeks
Every 4 weeks
Every 3 weeks
N/A
Strength sessions
1-2 per week
2 per week
1-2 per week
Likely goal
Train for event
Train for event
Maintain fitness
This table provides a brief overview of which level might be right for you, to help you get the most out of your plan. You should also note your current fitness levels and how many times you have done this event before.
BEGINNER INTERMEDIATE ADVANCED
Experience
Little to none
1-3 years
3+ years
Time to train
Limited
Moderate
Ample
Likely goal
To finish
At least top half
Competitive
All our plans are available either for sale directly on the TrainingPeaks Store (where you can also see screenshots of sample weeks), or you can subscribe as an Unlimited Athlete to be able to swap freely between all of them, among other benefits outlined below.
BUY SUBSCRIBE
Price
$24 to $159 per plan
From $24.58 per mth
Flexible, structured training
TrainingPeaks training app
Coaching videos, articles & FAQs
Email coach support

During plan only

Anytime
Swap freely between all 900+ plans
Help setting up your training zones
Coach fortnightly engagement check
Discounted TrainingPeaks Premium
30-day moneyback guarantee
We're Sorry To See You Go!

Please confirm your cancellation below and one of our team will process it as soon as possible (stopping all future payments). Your subscription will still continue until the end of your current billing cycle (your “next payment date”) and there is nothing else you need to do.

Don’t worry, you will always be able to access your completed workouts and your TrainingPeaks login credentials will stay the same. Also, if any payments happen to come out before we cancel your subscription, we’ll simply refund them.