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Training Plan: Your First Triathlon!

Photo by Erik Isakson

The Runner’s Triathlon Training Plan

When tackling your first triathlon, you should set your sights on a sprint or Olympic-distance event. The distances are a bit different—sprint includes 0.5-mile swim, 12-mile bike, 3-mile run, while Olympic means .93-mile swim, 24.8-mile bike, 6.2-mile run—but the training required for these two races is very similar. In fact, an appropriate training plan for an Olympic-distance triathlon is simply a sprint-distance training plan with a few extra weeks added on.

What follows is a flexible, 12-week training plan that can be used for either a sprint or an Olympic event. Begin in Week 1 and continue through Week 8 to prepare for a sprint, or through Week 12 to get ready for an Olympic-distance race. The plan consists of six workouts per week, as well as one optional run. In each workout, pay attention to your perceived effort to complete the run, bike or swim at the proper pace.

Get in the Zone

The workouts in all three disciplines are based on a five-zone intensity system.

Zone Perceived Effort Pace
1: Low Aerobic Very Easy Warm-up pace
2: Moderate Aerobic Easy Easy-run pace or swim/bike equivalent
3: Threshold Comfortably Hard Half-marathon race pace or swim/bike equivalent
4: VO2max Hard 5k race pace or swim/bike equivalent
5: Speed Very Hard 1-mile race pace or swim/bike equivalent

Training Plan

CLICK HERE TO VIEW PDF VERSION OF TRAINING PLAN

Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun
1 OfforRun30 min(Zone 2) SwimWarm up: 100 yd (Zone 1)Drills: 4 x 25 yd*Main set: 100 yd (Zone 3)Cool down: 100 yd (Zone 1) Bike30 min (Zone 2) Run30 min (Zone 2) SwimWarm up: 100 yd (Zone 1)Drills: 4 x 25 yd*Main set: 100 yd(Zone 3)Cool down: 100 yd(Zone 1) Bike30 min (Zone 2) Run35 min (Zone 2)
2 OfforRun30 min (Zone 2) SwimWarm up: 100 yd (Zone 1)Drills: 4 x 25 yd*Main set: 2 x 100 yd* (Zone 3)Cool down: 100 yd (Zone 1) Bike30 min (Zone 2)+Run10 minutes (Zone 2) Run35 min (Zone 2) SwimWarm up: 100 yd(Zone 1)Drills: 4 x 25 yd*Main set: 2 x 100 yd(Zone 3)*Cool down: 100 yd(Zone 1) Bike35 min (Zone 2) Run40 min (Zone 2)
3 OfforRun 35 min (Zone 2) SwimWarm up: 100 yd (Zone 1)Drills: 4 x 25 yd*Main set: 3 x 100 yd* (Zone 3)Cool down: 100 yd (Zone 1) Bike35 min (Zone 2)+Run10 minutes (Zone 2) Run40 min (Zone 2) SwimWarm up: 100 yd(Zone 1)Drills: 4 x 25 yd*Main set: 3 x 100 yd* (Zone 3)Cool down: 100 yd(Zone 1) Bike40 min (Zone 2)+Run10 min (Zone 2) Run45 min (Zone 2)
4 OfforRun 20 min (Zone 2) SwimWarm up: 100 yd(Zone 1)Drills: 4 x 25 yd*Main set: 4 x 75 yd*(Zone 4)Cool down: 100 yd(Zone 1) 

 

BikeWarm up: 10 min(Zone 1)Workout:6 x (1 min Zone 5 + 2 min Zone 1)Cool down: 10 min(Zone 1)+

Run

10 min (Zone 2)

Run40 min (Zone 2) SwimWarm up: 100 yd(Zone 1)Drills: 4 x 25 yd*Main set: 3 x 100 yd* (Zone 3)Cool down: 100 yd(Zone 1) Bike50 min (Zone 2)+Run10 min (Zone 2) Run30 min (Zone 2) + 10 min (Zone 3)
5 OfforRun40 min(Zone 2) SwimWarm up: 100 yd(Zone 1)Drills: 4 x 25 yd*Main set: 5 x 75 yd*  (Zone 4)Cool down: 100 yd (Zone 1) Bike40 min (Zone 2) RunWarm up: 10 min (Zone 1)Workout:6 x (1 min Zone 4 + 2 min Zone 1)Cool down:5 min (Zone 1) SwimWarm up: 100 yd(Zone 1)Drills: 4 x 25 yd*Main set: 4 x 100 yd* (Zone 3)Cool down: 100 yd(Zone 1) Bike45 min (Zone 2) + 10 min (Zone 3)+Run10 min (Zone 2) Run50 min (Zone 2)
6 OfforRun40 min(Zone 2) SwimWarm up: 100 yd(Zone 1)Drills: 4 x 25 yd*Main set: 6 x 75 yd*(Zone 4)Cool down: 100 yd(Zone 1)  BikeWarm up: 10 min (Zone 1)Workout:3 x (4 min Zone 4 + 3 min Zone 1)Cool down:10 min (Zone 1)+Run10 min (Zone 2) Run40 min (Zone 2) SwimWarm up: 100 yd(Zone 1)Drills: 4 x 25 yd*Main set: 5 x 100 yd* (Zone 3)Cool down: 100 yd(Zone 1) Bike60 min (Zone 2)+Run10 min (Zone 2) Run40 min (Zone 2) + 10 min (Zone 3)
7 OfforRun45 min(Zone 2) SwimWarm up: 100 yd(Zone 1)Drills: 4 x 25 yd*Main set: 4 x 100 yd* (Zone 3)Cool down: 100 yd(Zone 1) Bike45 min (Zone 2) RunWarm up: 10 min (Zone 1)Workout:3 x (4 min Zone 4 + 3 min Zone 1)Cool down:5 min (Zone 1) SwimWarm up: 100 yd(Zone 1)Drills: 4 x 25 yd*Main set: 4 x 150 yd* (Zone 3)Cool down: 100 yd(Zone 1) Bike50 min (Zone 2) + 10 min (Zone 3)+Run10 min (Zone 2) Run60 min (Zone 2)
8 OfforRun30 min(Zone 2) SwimWarm up: 100 yd(Zone 1)Drills: 4 x 25 yd*Main set: 6 x 75 yd* (Zone 4)Cool down: 100 yd(Zone 1) BikeWarm up: 10 min (Zone 1)3 x (5 min Zone 4 + 3 min Zone 1)Cool down:10 min (Zone 1) Run20 min (Zone 1) + 10 min (Zone 3) SwimWarm up: 100 yd(Zone 1)Main set: 400 yd (Zone 2)Cool down: 100 yd(Zone 1) Off SPRINT TRIATHLON!orSwim400 yd (Zone 2)+Bike 30 min (Zone 3)

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Run

20 min (Zone 2)

9 OfforRun45 min(Zone 2) SwimWarm up: 100 yd(Zone 1)Drills: 4 x 25 yd*Main set: 3 x 200 yd (Zone 3)*Cool down: 100 yd(Zone 1) Bike45 min(Zone 2) Run10 min (Zone 1) +15 min (Zone 3) +10 min (Zone 1) SwimWarm up: 100 yd(Zone 1)Drills: 4 x 25 yd*Main set: 500 yd (Zone 2)Cool down: 100 yd(Zone 1) Bike60 min (Zone 2) + 5 min (Zone 4)+Run10 min (Zone 2) Run60 min (Zone 2)
10 OfforRun45 min(Zone 2) SwimWarm up: 100 yd(Zone 1)Drills: 4 x 25 yd*Main set: 4 x 200 yd (Zone 3)*Cool down: 100 yd(Zone 1) Bike10 min (Zone 1) +15 min (Zone 3) +10 min (Zone 1) Run45 min (Zone 2) SwimWarm up: 100 yd(Zone 1)Drills: 4 x 25 yd*Main set: 4 x 600 yd (Zone 2)*Cool down: 100 yd(Zone 1) Bike75 min (Zone 2)+Run10 min (Zone 2) Run60 min (Zone 2)
11 OfforRun45 min(Zone 2) SwimWarm up: 100 yd(Zone 1)Drills: 4 x 25 yd*Main set: 5 x 200 yd (Zone 3)*Cool down: 100 yd(Zone 1) Bike50 min (Zone 2) Run10 min (Zone 1) +15 min (Zone 3) +10 min (Zone 1) SwimWarm up: 100 yd(Zone 1)Drills: 4 x 25 yd*Main set: 4 x 800 yd (Zone 2)Cool down: 100 yd(Zone 1) Bike75 min (Zone 2) +5 min (Zone 4)+Run10 min (Zone 2) RunWarm up:10 min (Zone 2)Workout:6 x (1 min Zone 4 + 4 min Zone 2)Cool down:10 min (Zone 1)
12 OfforRun30 min(Zone 2) SwimWarm up: 100 yd(Zone 1)Drills: 4 x 25 yd*Main set: 6 x 75 yd* (Zone 4)30 seconds after each 25)Cool down: 100 yd(Zone 1) Bike10 min (Zone 1) + 15 min (Zone 3) +10 min (Zone 1)+Run 10 min (Zone 3) Run30 min (Zone 1) + 10 min (Zone 3) SwimWarm up: 100 yd(Zone 1)Main set: 400 yd (Zone 3)Cool down: 100 yd(Zone 1) Off OLYMPIC-DISTANCE TRIATHLON!

 

*Rest 30 seconds after each set

 

 

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