Measuring Your Improvement in Triathlon Racing
Updated: Sep 3
Unlike running, triathlon is a difficult sport to determine improvement in race performance using splits and times. While distances advertised for the events are generally standard – Sprint, Olympic, Half-Ironman etc. – conditions vary wildly not only between events but from year to year at the same event. Race Directors have many priorities and accurately measuring the course is often way down the list. You really think your local race director swims out there every year with his or her GPS to measure that half mile swim you just did? Doubtful.
But, obviously, you want to measure if you’re improving or not as you continue your triathlon journey so you can make adjustments to your training schedule and concentrate on your strengths or weaknesses. The best way to do this is use your fellow competitors. USA Triathlon has developed a rather elaborate ranking system which I find, anecdotally at least, works quite well. It calculates a score for each race based on the performance of your competitors.
The best way to use it is to go to the Athlete Results tab, type your name in and check the two boxes down the bottom to get the details. Below is an example of an athletes results for the season. It enables athletes and coaches to get an idea strengths and weaknesses and whether an athlete peaked for their "A" races (see my Planning Your Triathlon Season post)
It's also fun to see how your doing at a national level in your age group. If you click the National Rankings tab and fill out the four fields you can see a list of competitors in your age group and their average rating. To qualify you need to do at least 3 races but if you check the Show Unranked box you'll see how you're tracking even if you've only done one or two races. If you rank high enough at the end of the year you can win an All-American award.
Sign up to USAT to get national ranking information on your triathlons.