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Training Tips

General training tips for triathlons

by Ron



  • Never go up in minutes/miles by more than 10% per week.  This decreases your chance  for injuries.  On a personal note, one day I decided to do the whole trail - 8miles instead of the normal 6miles.  I did it alright and felt good immediately afterwards.  The following two weeks I felt so run-down and beat-up.  It was horrible.  Instead of increasing from 6 to 6.6 miles, I went from 6 to 8 miles!  That is 33% more!  Way too much of a shock.

  • Do careful stretching when appropriate.

  • Get lots of sleep, this is the only part of your 24 hour day for real recuperation.  Take advantage.  It will also keep you mentally sharp.

  • If you feel run-down at the beginning of your routine, don't push yourself.  You don't need to do all of your minutes every time.  Your body is just telling you 'whoa! I'm gonna need a little more rest today - an unscheduled light workout will suit me just fine.' If you feel rundown and push yourself to do your minutes or miles, you will only feel worse in the following days and this can lead to injuries and or sickness.


  • When training for your swim, make sure you go a little farther then your needed distance.  You will definitely have confidence then.  Swimming can be scary - especially if one can't touch or see the ground.

  • Remember, you can resort to your 'easy' swim stroke if need be such as the side or the breast stroke.

  • Do some open-water training if possible.  At least 1-2 times prior to racing.  Open water swimming will be more challenging.  Just make sure you have somebody looking out for you if you get into trouble.

  • Like the swim, do a few bike or runs over the distance needed.  Confidence again.  Try racing a duathlon (even though it is a lesser challenge...I know I know...haha!!!) OR race a 5 or 10K run.

  • Make sure to do a few 'brick' workouts several weeks before your first tri.  These will help you immensely for the bike to run (T2) transition.  For more on 'bricks', see Bricking It

  • Try to get familiarized with the course.  If you can, obtain a map of the course days beforehand.  Optimally, train on the different parts of the course before the event.  Don't do all the events on the same day, but separately.  If you can't train on the course before the tri, then at least drive and walk most of it.  Just being familiar with the course will rid you of a lot of butterflies.

  • Either at home or at the course, try to mentally visualize your set-up at the transition areas and how your sequence of doing things in each transition area.  This is key or you will blunder through the transitions losing unnecessary minutes.  Write your transition steps down on paper will help you.

  • Don't train hard the last two weeks before the race.  It's too late for improvement.  You can see this during the last few weeks of my Sprint Training Program and the Olympic Program

  • Get plenty of sleep several nights before.  (You should always be doing this though)

  • Do not change your diet before your first triathlon.  Keep things exactly the way they were during training.  Some people ask me if they should carbo-load a few days before.  NO!  Eat like you always do.  Do not try to pull a change-up to your system.  You are doing a Sprint or Olympic distance triathlon.  You should have plenty of energy reserves so long as you haven't been starving yourself.  When you move up to Half or Full Ironman, then you might consider a pre-race diet.

  • Check out the USAT Triathlon Rule Book.  Very detailed, probably a lot won't pertain to the beginner BUT has some good ideas.  Probably would be a good idea to get a rule book for your particular triathlon (if not a USAT sanctioned event)

  • Above all, REMEMBER:  If it is not broke, do not try to fix it.


The following is taken from Dr. George Sheehan's book entitled Running and Being: The Total Experience (Second Wind, Il 1978).

"…each day I take to the roads as a beginner, a child, a poet. Seeking the innocence of the beginner, the wonder of the child and the vision of the poet. Hoping for new appreciation of the landscape, a new perspective of my inner world , some new insights on life, a new response to existence and myself.

There are times, more often than the good times, when I fail. I never do pierce the shield. I return with a shopping list of things to do tomorrow. The miraculous has gone unseen. The message has gone unheard. I have had one of those loveless days on a lovely day for love.

Still, there is always the chance I'll have beginner's luck. And this run, this hour, this day may begin in delight and end in wisdom." (p. 121)




Rons Articles

Site Visions and Philosophy 2004


Achilles Tendonitis


Basic Stretching


Book Review - When Big Boys Tri


Getting Started With Swimming


Quick Bike Thoughts for Beginners


Bricking It


Thoughts from PineIsland Florida...a New 2003!


Can't Swim? Then KAYAK, Bike, Run!


Shin Splints


Starting from Scratch


Thoughts on Weightloss


Training Tips


Training for your First


Why Triathlon?  An Amateurs Perspective






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