If you are interested in knowing what triathlon training and racing entail, a great way to find out is to jump right in with the shortest distance race generally available. The sprint-distance triathlon is a 750 m swim, a 20 km bike ride and a 5 km run. Triathlon can be daunting to the beginner, but with careful planning you can be ready to complete a short race in 6 weeks.
Week 1: Getting your body moving
In the first week of triathlon training, focus on getting your body moving in all three disciplines of triathlon, not on speed or endurance. Wherever you are starting from, if you train hard you can achieve your goal of completing the race. During Week 1, your cumulative training will amount to 1 km of swimming, 20 km of cycling and 5 km of running. This week will help prepare your body for the training to come.
Week 2: Easy distance
Keep your pace steady during your second week of training, while also doubling your weekly distance. Spread your workouts over the week as your schedule allows so you are not trying to pack 6 days of workouts into a single weekend. This week, do a total of 2 km of swimming, 40 km of cycling and 10 km of running. Focus more on overall distance than speed.
Week 3: Head for the hills
Cut your total distance during Week 3 to 1 km of swimming, 20 km of biking and 5 km of running, but introduce hills and resistance. In the water, use hand paddles or reduce your rest time between laps. During your biking and running workouts, add hills by doing steep hill repeats, by using a stationary bike or treadmill hill program or by taking advantage of any rolling hills just outside your door.
Week 4: Speed it up
Your fourth week of sprint triathlon training should include speed training as practice for race day. In all three disciplines, speed up your pace--even if it means you have to lengthen the breaks between efforts. Swim for 2 km, bike for 40 km and run for 10 km this week, incorporating speed intervals throughout the week.
Week 5: Steady as you go
During Week 5, increase your mileage, but keep a steady pace throughout your workouts. Spread the workouts evenly over your week. Week 5 likely will be the most time-consuming of your training cycle. Swim 3 km, bicycle 60 km and run 15 km total during the fifth week. Slow your pace considerably from the previous week and train on a flat surface. Focus on going farther.
Week 6: Race week
To be fully rested and ready for your sprint-distance triathlon, reduce your distances in the sixth week to 1 km of swimming, 20 km of cycling and 5 km of running--not including race day. As the week progresses, ease up on the intensity during your workouts. The day before your race rest and eat.
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