Walking Instead of Running in a Triathlon

Triathlon EventFor those triathaNewbies who are worried about “walking” during the run portion of the race I’d like to tell my story.

Because of arthritis in the knee, I was told a number of years ago to stop running. In fact, I gave up physical fitness in general. But in January 2011, I decided to get back in shape and began swimming at the local YMCA. It took 6 months, but I was finally able to swim a mile. I was, however, interested in participating in a triathlon.

In August, 2011 I participated in a sprint triathlon relay with two friends: I completed the swim portion and my two friends completed the walking triathlonbike and ran. When the race was over (we weren’t last) I had caught the triathlon bug and wanted to complete a sprint triathlon on my own. Nature had something else in mind. After August I began having hip trouble and by January could barely walk. I could swim without difficulty, but walking was very painful. The treatment – a hip replacement in early May. One of the restrictions from my surgeon – absolutely no running at all!!! I followed all of my surgeons advice and rehab instructions and spent May and half of June recovering from the surgery. I began swimming again 6 weeks post-op and added a stationary bike and walking on the treadmill to my workout. By the end of July I was back up to a mile swim and could bike at least 10 miles and walk 2 miles. I was as ready as I’d ever be to participate in a sprint triathlon!

Unfortunately race day in early August was cold (60’s) and I drove to the race site in a torrential downpour. I did have second thought then. But by the time my age group heard the horn to start the swim, all thoughts of the bad weather vanished. I finished the swim with my best time ever. I was a bit slow on the bike (~53 minutes for 20 K) but I rode slow as I was concerned about falling on my new hip on the wet pavement. I started and ended the run portion with a walk – my overall pace (16:38/mile) much faster than my workout pace. I completed the entire sprint triathlon in 2 hours and 2 minutes – certainly not the fastest participant in my age/sex group but definitely far from last.

The race promoters even presented an award to a 69 year old female who had had 2 knee replacements and several neck surgeries but completed the sprint triathlon in just over 3 hours. She too completed the run by “walking.”

I say as long as you can finish within the allotted times of each segment of the race, and there are no rules against walking during the “run” portion, I say go for it!

I had a great time racing this year and will definitely be participating in several sprint triathlons in the future.

– Robin Bratton

Thank you for your note, Robin.  We agree, while the third leg of a triathlon is called the “run” leg, the goal is to finish it however you can. Can you walk during a triathlon? Do a walk/run combo? Of course. We encourage people to train as best they can, but come race day just give an A+ effort that you can be proud of, no matter how fast it is.


TriathaNewbie.com Recommended Resources:


Triathlon Swim : – Get the low-down on gear and read tips for training and events.

Triathlon Bike: – Learn how to structure bike workouts, find safety tips and read recommendations on great bike gear.

Triathlon Run : – Get the ultimate skinny on running sneakers, running gear, safety tips and much more.


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