Basics of Training for a Triathlon

If competing in a triathlon is one of your fitness goals, you’ve come to the right place.

As the old saying goes, “There is no time like the present.” If you’re serious about it, you should sign up for a race and start training right away.

While the thought of doing a multi-sport race might seem intimidating at first, preparing yourself is much simpler than you might imagine.

Below, we’ve put together the basics you need to start training for a triathlon.

Begin Early Enough

We shouldn’t place arbitrary limitations upon ourselves, but we should look at things realistically and remember that becoming a good triathlete takes time.

Fitness adaptations take time to develop and add up, so we should give ourselves at least ten to twelve weeks to prepare for a race.

Pick The Right Race

Depending on the distance of the race, there are three main categories of triathlons:

  1. A sprint triathlon – 750m (0.47-mile) swim, 20km (12-mile) bike, and a 5km (3.10-mile) run.
  2. An Olympic triathlon – 1.5km (0.93-mile) swim, 40km (25-mile) bike, and 10km (6.2-mile) run.
  3. A full triathlon (Ironman) – 3.8 km (2.4-mile) swim, 180.2km (112-mile) bike, and 42.2km (26.6-mile) run.

Ironman certainly sounds the coolest of them all. But, as a newbie who is getting started with triathlons, it’s better to go with the shortest one. That way, you’ll be able to see what the competition is, and you’ll have a much higher chance of completing it.

Outline Your Weekly Plan

Because you have three sports to prepare for, you should start with four to six hours of weekly training, split across five workouts:

  • Two swimming workouts
  • One running workout
  • One biking workout
  • One combined workout

Swimming is highly technique-dependent, so starting with two workouts for it is a great plan. As you get better at it (and with the other things), you can start doing more combined sessions.

Here are some brief guidelines:

The Swim

Start by focusing more on your technique and less on your speed and the distance you swim. Practice your breathing, kicking, and strokes before moving into any particular workouts.

The Run

It’s best to practice running after swimming and biking, as that will help better prepare you for the actual competition.

The Bike

Biking will probably seem like your easiest task, but don’t make the mistake of neglecting to train the discipline. Focus on doing one to two 45-60-minute sessions where you keep your heart rate between 135 and 155 beats per minute.

Improving your overall aerobic capacity will positively impact your running and swimming performance.