Beginner Question: Winded During Run Training

author : Amy Kuitse
comments : 9

I am training for my first sprint tri and I am having the hardest time with the run. I just get really winded between the 1-1/12 mile mark.

Member Question

I am training for my first sprint tri and I am having the hardest time with the run. I just get really winded between the 1-1/12 mile mark. I don't have a running background, it is a competitive weightlifting/strongman background. Also, I gather I am not your typical build for this sport either(6' 216lb.). 45 y/o old male.


Answer by Amy Kuitse

D3Multisport Coach


Good question here on how we can get ourselves beyond our “run wall.” Let me first start by saying that you may not be describing the “perfect body type” for a triathlete that we see in magazines. However, that is the difference between the magazines and the beauty of what we really are seeing in the sport. People of all shapes and sizes, with different stories on why they are competing, but one common goal for all...getting to the finish line.

The 'run-walk' method

Let’s address this wall that you are describing and give you a few ideas to help you get through this and on your way to finishing your first sprint triathlon.

While completing your run workouts consider breaking these up into a run/walk pattern to complete the run. For example: You have a 20’ run. ( ' = minutes, " = seconds)  Break this up into run 4’/walk 1’. The idea is to gradually increase the run time and then decrease the walk time. Increase the run time of up to 15’ with a 1’ walk. From there you can then start decreasing that walk time to 45”, then 30”, etc. The 4’ run/1’ walk is a starting point and may be too easy for you. If so, this should be adjusted according to where you are at present. You mentioned getting winded at 1-1 ½ miles, so start with the 1’ walk right before the first mile and continue this pattern through the completion of the run.


The key in using this method is to get started with the run as soon as the rest/walk period over. The other important piece is to start the walk before you start feeling winded so you do not find yourself wanting to extend the walking time.

Course selection

Another suggestion would be to try to keep your run courses as flat as possible and consider trying to run loops. Running on a flat course simply is easier than a hilly run. Running on a loop course lends itself to being able to get water, maybe someone else to jump in and run with you, and you may find mentally that it allows you to see the accomplishment of completing each lap.


During your run pay attention to your breathing pattern. You want this to be relaxed and rhythmic. What I mean by rhythmic is to take 2 steps (one with the right and one with the left) while breathing in and two steps while breathing out for a 2-2 rhythm. Daniels (Daniels’ Running Formula) suggest that this is the preferred breathing rhythm as it gives plenty of time to move air in and out of the lungs as well as creating the most consistency for your breathing in the types of running you are presently doing. The other thing that knowledge of your breathing pattern can help with is addressing side stitches and getting winded. These things can be brought on by fast, shallow breathing. Going to a slower and deeper breathing rate can help eliminate these side stitches and avoid or prolong the point at which you find yourself getting winded.

Race day

In thinking ahead to race day consider having 1-2 run-offs in your training plan. You will likely have one that builds itself to being longer in preparation for the race distance. The second one does not need to be longer than 5’but with the focus on settling yourself in off the bike - a brick workout. Also, if you find yourself feeling winded you will need to address getting winded on race day, thus establish a run/walk plan. I would suggest walking through the aid stations so you can get water and have a visual goal of station-to-station. Determine how much time you will take so you can track this and get yourself back into the run. It is an opportunity to give yourself positive feedback that you have followed your plan and are running again.

All the best as you continue to train for your first triathlon. I hope this will be the first of many to come!


Amy :)


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date: July 6, 2009

Amy Kuitse