Training to Win: How to Train for a Triathlon (Your Way!)

Triathlon Event

Are you looking to train for a triathlon, but aren’t quite sure how to get started?

Training for a triathlon can be tricky business,  as you’re essentially training for three different races– biking, swimming, and running. You need to train in a way that you build strength, endurance, agility, and speed all at the same time.

How do you do it?

Check out this guide to discover how to train for a triathlon. 

Set a Training Schedule  

First thing’s first, you need to set a training schedule. At a minimum, you should start training for your triathlon 12 weeks ahead of time. If it’s your first triathlon or first race, we suggest setting aside even more time. 

Your training schedule can’t just be you going to the gym and doing random workouts. Instead, your schedule should consist of running, biking, and swimming each week.  

Ideally, you want to do each activity two times per week. Additionally, if your race is taking place in open body water instead of a pool, you should include an open water swim each week as well

To build your endurance for race day, you should increase your distance by 10 percent each week.  Prior  to the race, you should be able to complete 10 percent more than the total distance of each leg of the race. For example, if you’re competing in an Olympic triathlon, then this means you should be able to swim a little over a mile, run close to 7 miles, and bike a little over 27 miles.

Include Resistance Training

In addition to training for each leg of the race, you also need to incorporate resistance training into your workout schedule. 

Resistance training will help you build muscle and endurance for the race. We suggest including resistance training workouts twice per week. Therefore, your training schedule may look something  like:

  • Monday: Swimming in the morning/Resistance training in  the evening
  • Tuesday: Biking in the morning
  • Wednesday: Swimming in  the morning
  • Thursday: Running in the morning//Resistance training in the evening
  • Friday: Rest day 
  • Saturday: Long bike/short run
  • Sunday: Open water swim/Long run 

This is just an example of what a training schedule may look like. Your specific training schedule will depend on your own fitness level, how many weeks you have to train, and what length of triathlon you’re running. 

Regardless of these variables, it’s still important to include workouts of varying lengths. For example, your running sessions should include both long runs to build endurance as well as shot runs to build speed and muscle. The same goes for your swims and bike rides. 

Incorporate Rest Days

No matter what your training schedule looks like, it’s also very important to include rest days. Ideally, you want to include one or two rest days per week.  

However, a rest day doesn’t mean you should spend your entire day on the couch. It’s still important that you get up and move so your muscles can engage in active recovery. 

On your rest day, you may want to go for a long walk, do a long yoga-stretch session, or hit the green for a game of golf. Thanks to your triathlon training, there’s a good chance that you’ll improve your golf game at the same time. 

Swimming Tips

Now that you have a general idea of what your training schedule should look like, let’s take a deeper look at what you can do to train for each leg of the race. 

For many people, the swim is the most challenging part of the triathlon, even though it’s the shortest leg of the race. While swimming a half-mile to a mile may not seem that bad, it’s deceptively hard. 

This is especially the case if you’re swimming in open water where the conditions can be unpredictable. If this is your first triathlon, we strongly suggest hiring a trainer to help you improve your swimming form and endurance. 

When you start your swimming training, the first thing you should focus on is the freestyle stroke. Don’t worry about going fast. Instead, focus on using the right form and keeping your head down. 

Imagine that you have a rod that goes from the top of your head down through your feet. You should be rotating on this rod from one side to the other with each stroke. This will help prevent fatigue. 

Once you have the stroke down, you can start diving into specific workouts. As we mentioned earlier, you should aim to swim twice per week and work up to swimming between a half-mile and a mile. 

Biking Tips 

Biking is another leg of the triathlon that can be very intimidating for some. This is also the portion of the race that requires the most technical gear. 

If you have the money for it, we suggest investing in a standard road bike, as this will give you a much better race time. Regardless of the bike, you use though, you want to make sure it’s fitted to your specific body.  

Before you begin training, take your bike into a bike specialist to have it fitted. 

In terms of your workouts, we suggest going for 1 to 2, 45-60 minute bike rides per week. If you can,  try to bike in areas with varying terrains, as hills will help you build your endurance.

Running Tips 

When training for this portion of the race, all you need is a good pair of running shoes and running clothes. 

Many people view running as the most comfortable party of triathlon training, as many people use running as a way to stay in shape in their daily lives. 

However, it’s important to keep in mind that running is the last leg of the triathlon. You’re going to be incredibly tired, and this run is going to be much more gruesome than your regular runs. 

To prepare yourself for the difficulty of this run,  at least one of your weekly running sessions should be scheduled right after your long bike ride. This way,  you can get used to the way it feels to transition from the bike to the ground. 

You also want to make sure you include sprint workouts each week to build strength and endurance. We also suggest including some hill runs. 

How to Train for a Triathlon: Are You  Ready to Train?

Now that you know how to train for a triathlon,  it’s time to get started. Before you know it,  you’ll be crossing that finish line thanks to all of your hard training!!

For more triathlon and workout tips, be sure to check back in with our blog.