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Triathlon Training for Beginners

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16 Week Olympic - 2x Balanced
  • 0.93mile Swim | 24.8mile Bike | 6.2mile Run
  • 1,500meter Swim | 40km Bike | 10k Run
  • By using this program, you accept the RESTRICTIONS AND TERMS OF USE

Program Details

  • 2-Swim, 2-Bike and 2-Run per week (6 sessions)
  • You have between 4 and 8 hours per week to train.
  • You will most likely train over the mileage necessary for the triathlon.  This will ensure that you can do all three events together. 
  • This program is based on finishing times of 'back-of-packers'  If you are new and somewhat slower, that is Ok.  If you do the times, you will finish the mileage.  Faster people with previous athletic backgrounds will do just as well or better on this program as you will be exceeding the distances which will make you better prepared for a good race.
  • Start this program if you can do Week 1's minutes fairly consistently with no problems or extreme fatigue.  If not and you need a running/biking program to start before this program, go to ...Couch to Olympic or just Sprint.
  • Re-organize the program around to suit your schedule.  JUST REMEMBER to keep the short sessions and Off days around the Long sessions.  This will allow plenty of rest before and after the long sessions.  You don't have to do 'two-a-days' if your schedule doesn't permit.  Just reorganize this and train on 6 days instead of 5.  Although you will have to do two-a-days if doing the 3x program.  You will have better success if your two-a-days are split up in the morning and night sessions.
  • ALWAYS leave minimum 1-2 days of NO TRAINING each week.  Your body will thank you and will prevent injuries.
  • This program IS JUST a volume-builder.  If your new to endurance, its recommended to focus on only volume for your first year, the following years you can start adding intensity-specific workouts as you will have a good base.  BUT the following program is easily modified for intensity training.

Program training details and information following this schedule.

 

Month 1   

Week M T W TH F S S TOTAL Vol
1 24-Swim Off 40-Swim 24-Run 80-Bike Off 40-Run 4h 16m  
48-Bike 256m
2 26-Swim Off 44-Swim 26-Run 88-Bike Off 44-Run 4h 41m +10%
53-Bike 281m
3 29-Swim Off 48-Swim 29-Run 97-Bike Off 48-Run 5h 9m +10%
58-Bike 309m
4 17-Swim Off 29-Swim 17-Run 58-Bike Off 29-Run 3h 5m -40%
35-Bike 185m
Notes Short Swim Off Long Swim Short Run Long Bike Off Long Run    
Short Bike

Grand total:       17h 11m           

 

Month 2   

Week M T W TH F S S TOTAL Vol
1 29-Swim Off 48-Swim 29-Run 97-Bike Off 48-Run 5h 9m  
58-Bike 309m
2 32-Swim Off 53-Swim 32-Run 107-Bike Off 53-Run 5h 41m +10%
64-Bike 341m
3 35-Swim Off 58-Swim 35-Run 117-Bike Off 58-Run 6h 13m +10%
70-Bike 373m
4 21-Swim Off 35-Swim 21-Run 70-Bike Off 35-Run 3h 44m -40%
42-Bike 224m
Notes Short Swim Off Long Swim Short Run Long Bike Off Long Run    
Short Bike

Grand total:       20h 47m           

 

Month 3  

Week M T W TH F S S TOTAL Vol
1 35-Swim Off 58-Swim 35-Run 117-Bike Off 58-Run 6h 13m  
70-Bike 373m
2 38-Swim Off 64-Swim 38-Run 128-Bike Off 64-Run 6h 49m +10%
77-Bike 409m
3 42-Swim Off 70-Swim 42-Run 141-Bike Off 70-Run 7h 30m +10%
85-Bike 450m
4 25-Swim Off 42-Swim 25-Run 85-Bike Off 42-Run 4h 30m -40%
51-Bike 270m
Notes Short Swim Off Long Swim Short Run Long Bike Off Long Run    
Short Bike

Grand total:       25h 02m           

 

Month 4  

Week M T W TH F S S TOTAL Vol
1 42-Swim Off 70-Swim 42-Run 141-Bike Off 70-Run 7h 30m  
85-Bike 450m
2 46-Swim Off 77-Swim 46-Run 155-Bike Off 77-Run 8h 14m +10%
93-Bike 494m Peak
3 37-Swim Off 62-Swim Off 124-Bike Off 62-Run 6h 36m -20%
74-Bike 37-Run 396m Taper
4 23-Swim Off 39-Swim 78-Bike Off Race Race 3h 30m -30%
47-Bike 23-Run +Race Taper
Notes Short Swim Off Long Swim Short Run Long Bike Off Long Run    
Short Bike

Grand total:       24h 50m + Race        

 

Program Structure
  • Each Discipline has a short and long session per week.
  • The Short session will be 60% of the long session.
  • Week 4 of Month 1, 2 and 3 is a 40% reduction in duration to facilitate rest and healing. 
  • You only increase your duration on week 2 and 3 by 10% a week.  A golden rule.
  • Week 1 starts off at the prior months week 3 so we don't automatically start increasing duration after a rest week.
  • The last month incorporates your peak duration followed by 2 weeks of tapering so your body can appropriately rest and heal to get ready for your race day.  YOU WILL NOT LOSE PERFORMANCE!  So don't worry.  This tapering is very necessary.
  • If you find you can't make a day of training, don't fret...relax, your body will welcome the opportunity for rest.  Move it back a day, double up or just let it go.

Swim

  • Speed workouts - Do these workouts on the 'short swims.'  These workouts should include shorter swims with recovery in between but focusing on swimming fast (ex. 5 x 100s, then 10 x 50s)
  • Endurance - swim a straight 500, mixing whatever strokes in with your freestyle to finish, get your time, this will be your base for long workouts, as you build endurance this time should decrease (ex. 3 x 500 matching your base time each swim) Strength - these workouts include 'medium' distance swims (ex.4 x 200s with little recovery time in between), also mix in some other strokes and kicking. Try to include some stroke drill work in every workout.  Do the strength workouts for 'medium' swims on the 'swimming emphasized' program at     if your swimming needs most improvement.
  • If new to swimming, lessons or a master program will be incredibly beneficial to your swim.

Bike

  • I would follow the same method of warm-up from the run for your bike:  Start with a 5min walk, 3-5minute light, slow jog, 5min walk, LIGHT, gentle stretching, 5min walk THEN start your biking.  OR start out at an easy pace at a higher cadence of 90+ rpms for 10minutes (higher revolutions per minute) to get the blood flowing to your muscles.  Then spin for a few minutes at normal cadence at about 75% of your pace  Stretch.  Transition to your regular cadence and workout. 
  • On spinning, work on a high cadence 90 to 100 rpms (revolutions per minute),  this builds efficiency, try to keep your pedal stroke even and circular. A cycling computer will aid you greatly so your spinning is consistent.  A flat ride or just spinning on a trainer or in a spin class keeping the tension low will work.  For strength, ride with hills, spinerval tape, spin class, all will work for a good workout.
  • For cool-downs, slow your pace and increase your cadence for the last 5-10minutes.  Get off your bike and walk for 10-20minutes.  Follow with some light, gentle stretching, walk a little more.  Have a more intensive stretch later that day/night.  Cool-downs eliminates lactic acid, brings your heart-rate to normal and prevents muscle cramps.

Run

  • Get fitted for a proper running shoe  at a dedicated running store FIRST!!!  A lot of injuries can be avoided this way...just ask us.
  • Avoid running on asphalt or concrete....find a good, smooth trail.
  • A good warm-up is imperative to a safe run.  A recommendation is to start with a 5min walk, 3-5minute light, slow jog, 5min walk, LIGHT, gentle stetching, 5min walk THEN start your run.  Doing this will get some blood flowing to your muscles before stretching.  NEVER stretch a cold muscle.
  • If you find that you start getting tired midway through your run, add some walking intervals BEFORE getting tired.  Example:  On your 30 minute long run, you get tired at the 15minute mark.  Try this: warm-up, run 10min, walk 2min, run 10min, walk 2min, run 10min, cool down.  Break your long runs up into 1/3rds or 1/2's with 2minute walking intervals before you get tired.  Trying to push yourself through a tiring last part of your run is a recipe for injury.
  • Cool-down.  Very important.  Cool-downs eliminates lactic acid, brings your heart-rate to normal and prevents muscle cramps.  Walk for at least 5-10minutes.  The more the better.  Do a LIGHT, gentle stretch session after your walk, walk some more.  Later that day/night, do a more intensive stretching.

Heart-Rate Training - Is it for you?

  • If you are new to endurance sports or maybe have been out of it for at least a year, then I would recommend the following:
  • Don't worry about it if you have no problems restraining yourself from going fast.  If you can maintain an easy conversation pace, not sweating or sweating a little, then there is a good chance that you are training appropriately and not pushing to hard.
  • WORRY about it if you find yourself always pushing too fast, inconsistent pace, you tend to 'die' near the end, sweating buckets or exhausted after your workout.  Check out the articles at Measuring Your HR and Application There are several other common methods, lactate threshold being another.  Typically for your first year, for the Karvonen formula, stay in zone I.  Long Slow  =  50-70%MHR (% of max heart-rate) and II.  Endurance =  70-75%.  Mainly in the second zone though.  This could be an RPE of 3-4 in the modified RPE (Real Perceived Exertion) chart.
  • Of course, if you have a years worth of base under you, then HR training will make you more competitive by training your body through the different zones throughout the week.  Essentially cycling volume with intensity.  This will increase your average pace as you will be doing tempo/threshold and interval HR training...HR rates above the endurance and recovery zones.  Typically you would train in zones above your endurance zone on your short and medium sessions while saving your long session for the lower endurance zone...an easy pace.  This method is called periodization training and lots of info can be found.

Bricks - Race Specific Training

  • See the cells with the 'grey' background in the final 2 weeks of your training plan?  These are 'brick' workouts.  As your volume starts decreasing 2 weeks leading up to your race, you will want to mimic the swim-to-bike and the bike-to-run transition back-to-back.  This is your race specific training.  Bike-to-run will be the most difficult. 
  • These sessions should be done at your zone 1-2 pace or 2-3 modified RPE.  We want these EASY.
  • Also what helps others for the bike-to-run is to tack on about 5-10minutes of running at the end of your bike rides using the Karvonen zone 1 or zone 2-3 modified RPE...a light pace. 

Strength Training

  • Weights are very important and most often overlooked for triathlon training.  We need to keep our bones, tendons and joints strong!  Strength training 2 times per week is a great injury prevention.
  • For your schedule, fit 2 days of strength anywhere in the program...just leave a day of 'no strength training' between them.  Just make sure you still keep at least 1-2 days of 'total rest' per week.

Other Notes

  • If doing any speed work or training at a higher heart-rate zones, do them on the short sessions.  Always keep your long sessions easy-going.
  • You will note that the minutes are not rounded to zeros and fives like most other programs, example: 32, 34 NOT 30, 35.  I do not round up or down as, in doing so, I would be violating my personal 10% week per session rule on many occasions.  Plus its a more consistent program in my opinion.
  • OTHER QUESTIONS?  Go to the forum.  That is where we all hang-out.  We would love to help you succeed.
  • Have program suggestions?  Would love hear them.  I recognize certain techniques will work for certain people.

 

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