The run portion of triathlon races can take a couple of different forms. In order to make the most of your race, it’s important to know which kind of run course you’ll be racing, whether it is an out-and-back course or a looped course.
Out-And-Back Run Course
It seems that most triathlon courses use an out-and-back style for the run portion. Logistically, it is easier to set-up this type of course because race directors don’t need to have as many volunteers manning water booths.
Most of the runs I’ve done up until now in triathlon races have been out-and-back courses, where you’re able to see people come back towards you. I like this because it helps you gauge how far you’ve gone and more importantly, how much farther you need to go before the halfway point. This gives you some perspective on how much energy to expend so you still have some int the tank for the way back.
Looped Run Course
With a looped run, you aren’t running the same stretch of road twice like you are with an out-and-back course. Instead, you don’t see the same road more than once and are essentially traveling in a circle, oval, square, or other kind of loop.
There aren’t as many races with looped run courses but there are still plenty of the out there. These types of run courses are OK, but there are some drawbacks with this type of course. For starters, there might be times when you don’t see anyone else, and you might find it difficult to judge how far you’ve gone.
When that happens, it can be tough to gauge how much of the course you have left, especially if you aren’t timing your run with a watch or GPS device. It’s times like that when you need to rely on your mental toughness and really dig down and see what you’re made of.
Whichever course you run on in your next triathlon, being prepared beforehand will help you mentally tackle the course and allow you to get the best time possible.