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Before you read this...make sure you have been running (or biking) consistently. If you need to start a running program, check out Running from Scratch.
Also, if you are brand new...check out Getting Started
Ok, so you want to do a sprint length triathlon? To start the final 13 week program leading up to a sprint tri, you will need to be able to consistently sustain the following: 20min swim, 30min bike, 20min run. If you can do the previous, then you are ready for the final 13 week program for a sprint triathlon. These minutes might seem 'long' but I am assuming that you are going at a leisurely pace and NOT working on speed at this stage of the game. SO, by doing the 20-30min of each sport, I am hoping you will be at least meeting the mileage. You may very well exceed it - that's ok, you will then be better prepared.
Pre-Sprint Training Program
Leading up to these final 13 weeks for a sprint-length triathlon, you should be running and swimming 2-3 times per week. For a sprint triathlon, you can get away with biking 1-2 times a week. For those who have just learned how to run consistently 15-25 minutes, follow the following transitional training example program and design a program where you run, bike and swim 2 times a week (not necessarily in that order) increasing your swimming and biking from a few minutes to 20-30minutes.
You already know how to run, so you must work in the biking and swimming while only increasing in these events by no more than 10% a week. Once you have gotten up to 20min swim (forward crawl - no stopping), 30min bike, and 20min run , then you may start the final 13 week program. Getting up to these levels might take a month or several depending what you are strong in. Be patient. Swimming might take the longest. Once you have achieved these levels, it is usually a good idea to sustain them for a month or so before going on into the final 13-week sprint training program.
Sprint 13-Week Training Program
**9/11/02 - This is the program I designed for my mother who is running her first sprint triathlon this weekend. She is 59 years old and started from scratch in the fall of 2001. If she can do it, you can!**
Remember, you may definitely overshoot the mileage by the end of this program, but this program is for everybody and especially for beginners OF ALL AGES!!!. It is not based on speed but on endurance. You can go as slow as you want. This is your first triathlon, and the goal is to just finish and to HAVE FUN!!!
If you need some reference on mileage to minutes: I am a slow, leisurely runner and it takes me 40 minutes to run 4 miles. One runs max 45 minutes in this program, so runners slower than me (and I am slow) can definitely do this program. However, if you find you can do a longer length tri during the middle of the following program, than sign up for a longer one!
By the way, if you can't do all the minutes - DON'T WORRY!!! 45 minutes running or 35 minutes swimming does sound like a lot. Do your best. On race day, you will get a great extra boost from the environment. Being that swimming is first, I know you will be able to do the distance even if you have only maxed out at around 20-30 minutes (just make sure you have done the 0.6miles in the pool as you can't really stop in the event). Biking is easy at these distances - even under minimal training. Running...you can stop to walk as much as it is needed if you want...you are allowed. I THINK YOUR GONNA BE ALRIGHT!!!
For a typical sprint triathlon (~0.5mile swim, 12mile bike, 3mile run), here are some results of the best and worst times from ages 15 to 70:
Swim: 10-35min Bike: 30-55min Run: 18-45min Total: 55-135min
Final 13 Weeks!!!
Swim - 0.6mi, Bike - 12.4mi, Run - 3.1mi