Training for Your First
A few basic
guidlines for creating a training plan.
here you are, wondering if you're CRAZY enough to start training for your
first triathlon or to just learn how to run?
First, why? Do you want to feel better about yourself? Lose
weight? Gain confidence? Or just because it would sound cool on your
resume? (Believe me, it works.)
I firmly believe that anybody can run a
triathlon...even if you haven't worked out in years. All it takes is
patience and willpower...you must make it a priority in your lifestyle.
Once you do this then the training will come easy. In the words of
Sally Edwards, Ironman competitor "...set aside a certain
time of day, 3-6 days per week, and call that an appointment, an appointment
with your workout. It is just as important as an appointment
with your banker, doctor or hair stylist." Do you still find
you may not have enough time? Sally Edward also mentions that the minimum
threshold for triathlon fitness is a minimum of three workouts per week, minimum
30 minutes each...that's six hours a month? How often do you watch
television a month, read or play on the internet? You may find that
you have more time than you think.
My first triathlon inspired my mother who is 59
years old to run her first. After 2 months, she has lost 15 pounds, is
starting to feel great and is getting a great, positive mental boost. She
has a long way to go, she hasn't worked out in decades and has another 15 pounds
to lose...BUT so far, her whole lifestyle is better and healthier...go mom!!!
Determine Your Goals
Determine how long your first triathlon will be. Starting your training for your first triathlon will all depend upon what
your current aerobic levels are and what your goals are. What distance do
you want to do? 1/2 sprint, sprint or olympic? A sprint length -
15miles total is a great first choice. Training will allow you to build up
endurance, shed some extra pounds, improve your health immensely AND will not
take a lot of time out of your busy schedule. If you are starting from scratch, I would recommend triathlons with total mileage between 15 to 20 miles. This will allow you to 'test'
yourself. You will be able to get familiar with your technique in the two
transition areas - T1 and T2, it will allow you to test your equipment PLUS you
will have a good time since you will not be concerned with placing your first
I will focus on getting you through your first sprint
program - 15 miles.
Building A Base
Very important first step. We can not just go out
and run 5miles or swim a 1/2 mile to start with? Our joints will fall
apart! We need to get our joints used to these new stresses that we will
be putting on them. Joints take longer to build up than aerobic stamina.
So we build a base. A simple walk/run routine is best. Check out the
Running from Scratch Programs.
Overweight beginners may find that their knees hurt when starting a conservative
running program. NOT TO WORRY! You may be better off starting with
biking and shedding off some extra pounds before running. Your joints will
thank you. It may also be very smart at this stage to start a high
repetition strength training program to help strengthen your joints, muscles and
tendons before getting serious.
The most important rule is to follow the 10% rule. Never go up in training
distance or duration by more than 10% the following week. If you do, you
will be sorry.
Always schedule a 'rest' week once a month. One of the most important
aspects to training is REST! You can't keep going up by 10% every week -
you will burn out. You need a 30-50% decrease in duration/distance AND
a whole week at least once a month. Not to worry, you will not lose your
base but will come back stronger.
With these rules, you can easily come up with a routine
in the run, bike, or swim.
When building a base, try to do your single event
training 3-4 times/week.
If you are new to training, focus on just either the
run or the bike for 2-6months to build up your aerobic base. You may find
that starting all three sports at once will be too much. Once you have
focused on one event for 2-6months, then you may add the next/other one or two in with your
training while ALWAYS following rules 1 and 2.
Here is a link for my
to start a running program at
Starting from Scratch
Swim, Bike and Run Training Plan
Once you have built a base, you can start training for
all three sports. Typically for a sprint triathlon, you only need to train
twice a week in each of the three sports. That is 6 days with one rest
day. OR you can have one day where you do two events, say a swim then a
run. Then four others days where you just do one training session per day.
That will give you two days off per week (my favorite).
To make your training schedule, follow the Rules (1 and
2), and make a plan where you swim, bike and run two times/week.
For weak events, you may slip in a third day of
training per week for that specific event to help.
Here is an example:
Important help to come up with a simple swimming
program is at Swimming
Pre-Race Training - Final 13weeks
For the final 13week leading up to your sprint
triathlon, go to
I recommend only one book to start your
training whatever your current level is. The book is Triathloning for
Ordinary Mortals by Steven Jonas, M.D. This is the best book for starting
from scratch. Steven Jonas does triathlons for fun, not professionally, so
it is very easy to relate to.
Besides learning how to run or to
train for a triathlon, I also have
The Next Level (weight-lifting). From having the experience of doing both at the same time, I would
encourage you to check out both sites. BUT if your just starting any
exercise routine after a long hiatus then pick your favorite. Contrary to
popular belief, you actually can lose weight on a lifting routine if you are
serious and don't go to the gym for social hour. This would consist of a
routine with lots of reps - so as not to build a lot of muscle (lots of muscle
is counter-productive for the serious triathlete) combined with a
walk/jog routine (Starting from Scratch). This might be a smarter way to start-up than starting
training for all three of the triathlon events at once.
Starting with a weight training program with
the walk/jog routine will build up your bone density, strengthening your joints,
getting your muscles awakened from their long sleep. It will take a couple
of months for your metabolism to 'reorganize' itself. Your cells will take
this period to reconfigure its bio-machinery: enzymatic pathways, energy systems,
different metabolic pathways, etc...this is a big step to get used to - your
body has probably been in hibernation for quite a while.
During this period you will feel sore, maybe worn out at times...you will
probably not want to go back to the gym most of the time BUT if you can hold out
for 2-3 months you will start feeling better, a lot less sore and you will start
having confidence - getting that mental edge. Once this happens, you will
start gaining momentum in your workout and how you feel. This feeling will
auto-accelerate so you will want to go to the gym now! If you don't go
will feel 'drowsy' from doing nothing since doing nothing is allowing your
metabolism to slow. Not a good thing!!!
SUCCESSFUL ACTION IS CUMULATIVE IN RESULTS!!!
'Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day
in and day out. Many people take the first step and then stop. Yet,
with every additional step you take, you enhance immensely the value of your
All masters of success are chiefly distinguished by
their power of adding a second, a third, and perhaps a fourth step in a
There is no royal road to anything. One thing
at a time, all things in succession is the rule of life. That which grows
fast, withers as rapidly. That which grows slowly, endures.
Do not despise the bottom rings in your ascent to