You can do a triathlon! Follow this road map to cross your first triathlon finish line in just eight weeks.

You can do a triathlon! Follow this sprint triathlon training road map to cross your first finish line in just eight weeks.

If you’re brand new to triathlon, trying to figure out training for swimming, cycling and running in an organized progression can be a little daunting. Sprint triathlons—which vary but are typically around a 750-yard swim, 12-mile bike and 3-mile run—are a great entry point to the sport and achievable for anyone committed to following this eight-week plan for building endurance. This program will help remove some of the training mystery for the triathlon rookie!

Contents

Sprint Triathlon Training: Before You Begin

Before starting this plan, you should be in good health and injury free. You must be able to swim 100 yards non-stop without excessive stress (preferably freestyle). Your general fitness should allow for 20 minutes of non-stop cycling and 10 minutes of continuous running. This plan provides you with a gentle, targeted progression to get you to the start line confident you can cover the distance.

The sprint triathlon training program follows a routine of five training days per week, with one session per training day. Initially there are two swims per week, and alternating one run and two bike workouts one week, followed by two runs and one bike the next week. Eventually you progress to two swims, two bike rides and two runs per week, with one of those runs directly after your bike ride. Note the indicated terrain. Attempt to do the listed sessions on the scheduled days to maximize effectiveness of the plan and minimize risk of injury.

Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE) Training

All sprint triathlon training plan workouts are structured with training zones, according to rate of perceived effort.

Zone 1: Gentle rhythmic breathing. Pace is easy and relaxed. The intensity is a jog, or very easy swim or bike spin.

Zone 2: Breathing rate and pace increase slightly. You should still be comfortable but with slightly deeper breathing. Running and cycling pace remains comfortable and conversation is possible.

Zone 3: Become aware of breathing a little harder. Pace is moderate with a stronger swimming, cycling or running rhythm. This is “feel good” fast. It is slightly more difficult to hold conversation.

Zone 4: Starting to breathe hard, pace is fast and beginning to get uncomfortable and should be challenging to maintain. This effort is approaching an all-out 15-minute swim, or 30-minute bike and run pace.

Zone 5: Breathing is deep and forceful and you may notice a second significant change in breathing pattern. Pace is all-out sustainable for one to five minutes. Mental focus is required and it should feel moderately uncomfortable.

Sprint Triathlon Training KEY

’ = minutes
” = seconds
RPM = revolutions per minute or cadence
Zone = perceived effort zone (see table above)
(”) = indicates rest in between intervals
Note: for the swim workouts (e.g., “16×25”), either yards or meters are acceptable, depending on your pool. A “25” is one length and a “50” is down and back.

Week 1: Build Consistency

Sprint Triathlon Training Focal Point: Be conservative with your effort in week 1 but strong in your conviction to complete the schedule this week. Start sprint triathlon training sessions easy to warm up. Bike Tip: RPM stands for revolutions per minute, which is your cadence. To determine RPM without a cycling computer, simply count the amount of times your right knee comes up in the pedal stroke for 30 seconds, then double that number.
Monday: Day off.
Tuesday: Swim 16×25 (30”). Pace these evenly and start slow. Zone 1.
Wednesday: Run 5x(2’ walk/3’ run in Zone 1), flat terrain.
Thursday: Bike 30’ flat terrain, Zone 1 at 80–90 RPM.
Friday: Day off.
Saturday: Swim 10×50 (45”), Zone 1.
Sunday: Run 6x(1.5’ walk/3.5’ run in Zone 1), flat terrain.

Week 2: Build Consistency

Sprint Triathlon Training Focal Point: You are already increasing your fitness at this point. Each session is a stepping stone to the following week, so take pride in executing the workouts well from start to finish. Take your rest days as scheduled and eat well.
Monday: Day off.
Tuesday: Swim 24×25 (30”). Pace these evenly. Zone 2.
Wednesday: Bike 30’ flat terrain as 15’ Zone 1, 15’ Zone 2 at 80–90 RPM.
Thursday: Run 2×10’ (2’ walk- ing rest), flat terrain, Zone 1.
Friday: Day off.
Saturday: Swim 12×50 (35”). Pace these evenly. Zone 1.
Sunday: Bike 45’ rolling terrain as 15’ Zone 1, 30’ Zone 2 at 80–90 RPM.

Week 3: Build Consistency

Sprint Triathlon Training Focal Point: Always be moving forward physically and mentally with no coasting. When riding uphill, flat or downhill, pay attention to the pressure on your pedals, which is energy pushing the bike forward. When running and swimming, think about even rhythm and cadence pushing you forward. Mentally focus always on doing your best work, best effort and positive self-talk in sessions.
Monday: Day off.
Tuesday: Swim 8×75 (40”). Pace these evenly. Zone 2.
Wednesday: Run 20’ rolling terrain as 10’ Zone 1, 10’ Zone 2.
Thursday: Bike 55’ flat terrain as 20’ Zone 1, 35’ Zone 2 at 85–95 RPM.
Friday: Day off.
Saturday: Swim 4×100 (45”), Zone 2. 6×50 (30”), just a little faster in Zone 3.
Sunday: Run 30’ flat terrain, Zone 1.

Week 4: Increase Endurance

Sprint Triathlon Training Focal Point: As you reach the midpoint of this sprint triathlon training program, reconnect with why you want to do a tri. What do you like about sport and what makes you feel good when you are out there training? The answers to these questions are what will get you through the most challenging days, and they are what you will draw upon on race day.
Monday: Day off.
Tuesday: Swim 12×75 (20”) as 6 in Zone 2, 6 in Zone 3.
Wednesday: Run 40’ rolling terrain as 15’ Zone 1, 25’ Zone 2.
Thursday: Bike 70’ rolling to hilly terrain as 20’ Zone 1, 50’ Zone 2 at 85–95 RPM.
Friday: Day off.
Saturday: Swim 10×100 (25”), Zone 2.
Sunday: Bike 45’ flat terrain, Zone 1 at 90–100 RPM. Make a quick transition into running shoes (less than 3’). Run 20’ off the bike, flat terrain, Zone 2.

Week 5: Increase Endurance

Sprint Triathlon Training Focal Point: You are tough. Training is “good” discomfort, where you develop strong coping skills for race day. Your Sunday transition run (which, in combination with the bike, is called a brick workout) is a perfect place to practice physical and mental race skills as well. Be organized and focused on starting your run immediately off the bike by having a place to drop your bike and your run shoes ready. Create your own transition area.
Monday: Day off.
Tuesday: Swim 2×200 (30”). 4×100 (20”). All Zone 2.
Wednesday: Run 40’ rolling terrain as 15’ Zone 1, 25’ Zone 2.
Thursday: Bike 80’ rolling to hilly terrain as 20’ Zone 1, 25’ Zone 2, 15’ Zone 3, 20’ Zone 2 at 90–95 RPM.
Friday: Day off.
Saturday: Swim 500 (2’). 5×100 (20”). All Zone 2.
Sunday: Bike 60’ flat terrain, Zone 1 at 90–100 RPM. Quick transition (less than 3’). Run 20’ off the bike, flat terrain, Zone 2.

Week 6: Improve Race Fitness

Sprint Triathlon Training Focal Point: This is your last two-week training segment before you back off for race taper week. Make the most of each session, pull in all the resources and learning from the past five weeks and write down small goals you want to accomplish with each day. Be positive and calm: This is the ideal state in which to maximize your training sessions.
Monday: Day off.
Tuesday: Swim 1000 non-stop, Zone 2.
Wednesday: Run 35’ rolling terrain as 15’ Zone 1, 10’ Zone 3, 5’ Zone 4, 5’ Zone 2.
Thursday: Bike 60’ flatter to rolling terrain as 15’ Zone 1, 2x(5’ Zone 3, 2.5’ Zone 2, 5’ Zone 4, 2.5’ Zone 2), 15’ Zone 1 at 90–95 RPM.
Friday: Day off.
Saturday: Swim 10×100 (20”). Swim #3, #6 and #9 faster in Zone 4, the rest in Zone 1.
Sunday: Bike 40’ flat terrain as 15’ Zone 1, 15’ Zone 3, 10’ Zone 4 at 90–100 RPM. Make a quick transition (less than 2’). Run 20’ off the bike, flat terrain as 10’ Zone 4, 5’ Zone 2, 5’ Zone 1.

Week 7: Improve Race Fitness

Sprint Triathlon Training Focal Point: You have accomplished a lot! At the end of this week, look back on all your sessions. This will give you a sense of confidence that you are ready to tackle the sprint distance, and it serves as a great reminder when nerves creep up. Racing will be simply doing what you have been doing in training: swimming, biking and running!
Monday: Day off.
Tuesday: Swim 500, Zone 1 build to Zone 2. 10×50 (20”) as 25 fast/Zone 4, 25 easy/Zone 1.
Wednesday: Run 35’ rolling terrain as 15’ Zone 1, 10’ Zone 3, 5’ Zone 5, 5’ Zone 2.
Thursday: Bike 60’ rolling to hilly terrain as 15’ Zone 1, 5’ Zone 3, 2.5’ Zone 2, 5’ Zone 4, 2.5’ Zone 2, 5x(1’ Zone 5, 2’ Zone 1), 15’ Zone 1 at 90–95 RPM.
Friday: Day off.
Saturday: Swim 5×200 (30”) as #1 in Zone 1, #2–3 in Zone 2, #4 in Zone 3, #5 in Zone 4.
Sunday: Bike 30’ flat terrain as 15’ Zone 1, 10’ Zone 3, 5’ Zone 4 at 90–100 RPM. Quick transition (less than 2’). Run 15’ off the bike, flat terrain as 5’ Zone 4, 5’ Zone 2, 5’ Zone 1.

Week 8: Race Week

Sprint Triathlon Training Focal Point: If you are feeling excited and nervous, that is a good thing. It means that you care, and the race is important to you. This extra energy will give you a boost on race day. Follow the sessions closely and resist the urge to “test” yourself—save it up for race day! Take time to pre-organize your equipment so race day is simpler. If you can review the course, that will help ensure success. Visualize your best training efforts on the race course.
Monday: Day off.
Tuesday: Swim 200 Zone 1. 8×50 (20”) as 25 fast/Zone 4, 25 easy/Zone 1. 100 Zone 1.
Wednesday: Run 20’ flat terrain as 12’ Zone 1, 3’ Zone 3, 5’ Zone 1.
Thursday: Bike 30’ rolling to hilly terrain as 15’ Zone 1, 2x(2.5’ Zone 3, 2.5’ Zone 2), 5’ Zone 1 at 90–95 RPM.
Friday: Day off.
Saturday: Bike 15’ Zone 1 at 90–95 RPM.
Sunday: Race Day!

Print a PDF version of this plan here.

Lance Watson, LifeSport head coach and Ironman University Master Coach, has trained a number of Ironman, Olympic and age-group champions over the past 28 years. He enjoys coaching athletes of all levels. You can find him at LifeSport Coaching on Facebook or on Twitter at @LifeSportCoach.

A sprint triathlon challenges your whole body, doesn’t suck up your life in training, and has you finished and showered before brunch starts. In typical sprint races, you take an hour, maybe an hour and 30 minutes, to really push it through a 750-meter swim, a 12- to 15-mile bike, and a 5K run. It’s aerobic. It’s strategic. It’s competitive. And you get to really let it rip, flying through each leg as fast as your body will let you. You get built-in cross training, the sweet reward of a finish line, and maybe even a medal.

You really only need about 6 weeks to train for your first triathlon. This beginner plan challenges you mentally and physically while getting you race ready on just four workouts a week. Don’t forget to rest: It’s scheduled in the program, and is so important that each week you need at least two days completely away from exercise to avoid overtraining. For more details on what to expect during training, pick up The Triathlete’s Training Bible—the new book from legendary triathlon coach Joe Friel.

You’ll build your skills in each discipline in the first two weeks. In Week Three, you’ll start to practice race skills. A key workout during that week: the brick. That’s where you bike and then run immediately afterward, an awkward transition that makes your legs feel as if they’re bricks (you just can’t get them moving as quickly as you’d like). But with practice, you’ll get used to running through that transition and getting up to pace for the 5K.

PgiamGetty Images

How hard to train for your triathlon

With this plan, you’ll work out at different intensities during different weeks. Each intensity level, or training “Zone,” corresponds to a specific target heart rate in relation to your maximum heart rate (sometimes calculated as 220 minus your age).

  • Zone I: Training Zone I workouts should be performed at 50-60 percent of maximum heart rate. This should feel easy. Your breathing should be slightly elevated, but you should be able to hold a conversation without trouble.
  • Zone II: Training Zone II workouts should be performed at 60-70 percent of maximum heart rate. This is a moderately easy pace. Your breathing will feel more labored, but you should still be able to talk.
  • Zone III: Training Zone III workouts should be performed at 70-80 percent of maximum heart rate. This is a moderate pace. It’ll be hard to hold a conversation—you can spit out a few words at a time.
  • Zone IV: Training Zone IV workouts should be performed at 80-90 percent of maximum heart rate. This is a moderately hard pace. You’ll be struggling to talk. But remember—it’s not all out. You should still be able to maintain this pace for around 20 minutes.

The Training Plan

Week 1

  • Monday: Rest

  • Tuesday: Swim for 30 minutes in Zone I

  • Wednesday: Run for 30 minutes in Zone I

  • Thursday: Rest

  • Friday: Rest

  • Saturday: Bike for 45 minutes in Zone I

  • Sunday: Swim for 30 minutes in Zone I

Week 2

  • Monday: Rest

  • Tuesday: Swim for 30 minutes in Zone I

  • Wednesday: Run for 30 minutes in Zone I

  • Thursday: Rest

  • Friday: Rest

  • Saturday: Bike for 45 minutes in Zone I

  • Sunday: Swim for 30 minutes in Zone I

Week 3

  • Monday: Rest

  • Tuesday: Swim for 35 minutes in Zone II; strength train for 20 minutes

  • Wednesday: Run for 30 minutes in Zone II; bike for 45 minutes in Zone II
  • Thursday: Swim for 20 minutes in Zone I; strength train for 20 minutes

  • Friday: Rest

  • Saturday: Brick workout: Bike for 60 minutes in Zone I and run for 30 minutes in Zone I

  • Sunday: Rest



Week 4

  • Monday: Rest

  • Tuesday: Swim for 30 minutes in Zone II; strength train for 20 minutes

  • Wednesday: Run for 40 minutes in Zone II; bike 45 minutes in Zone II

  • Thursday: Swim for 20 minutes in Zone I; strength train for 20 minutes

  • Friday: Rest

  • Saturday: Brick workout: Bike for 60 minutes in Zone I and run for 30 minutes in Zone I

  • Sunday: Rest

Week 5

  • Monday: Rest

  • Tuesday: Swim for 35 minutes in Zone II; strength train for 40 minutes

  • Wednesday: Bike for 45 minutes in Zone II; run for 40 minutes in Zone II
  • Thursday: Swim for 30 minutes in Zone I; strength train for 20 minutes

  • Friday: Rest

  • Saturday: Brick workout/test triathlon: Swim for 20 minutes in Zone I, bike for 40 minutes in Zone II, and run for 20 minutes in Zone I

  • Sunday: Rest

Week 6

  • Monday: Rest

  • Tuesday: Bike for 30 minutes in Zone I

  • Wednesday: Swim for 20 minutes in Zone I

  • Thursday: Run for 20 minutes in Zone I

  • Friday: Rest

  • Saturday: Swim for 15 minutes in Zone I; bike for 15 minutes in Zone I

  • Sunday: Race day

For a complete guide to training and what to expect on race day, see our Triathlon Training Guide.

Combining swimming, cycling and running, triathlons require dedication to three very different disciplines, and alternative techniques for each. Triathlon coach Peter Bryan provides expert advice for all sprint triathletes in this six-month training programme.

Whether you’re new to triathlons or looking to improve on your performance, my six-month training programme will help you cross that finish line with a smile.

Before beginning this programme, look at this safety advice for preventing injury and always listen to your body. It’s better to miss a session and continue next week, rather than push and become injured or ill and not be able to train at all.

This programme is based on seven time-based sessions and two aerobic rest days per week. It incorporates endurance, speed and class sessions to fully ready your body for the task ahead.

Each month has been designed with five weeks so you can take up your training at any time of the year. Where a month has only four weeks, miss out week three or four.

You will be training in excess of the required distances for the triathlon. This will ensure that you are fit enough to complete all three disciplines on the day of the event.

Training session tips

Endurance

  • You should complete the endurance sessions at an easy to steady pace making sure you complete the distance at a comfortable speed.
  • If swimming, swim a distance and stop for 30 seconds, then repeat the pattern for the duration of the session.
  • If cycling, maintain a high comfortable pedal rate (around 90 to 100 revolutions per minute) to achieve a constant speed.
  • If running, run at a pace at which you can hold a conversation.

Speed

  • You should complete speed rounds quickly and with a high effort over a short distance.
  • If swimming, swim 50 to 100m as fast as you can and time yourself. Then add 10 seconds to that time to give an interval timing.
  • If cycling, maintain a high pedal rate and ride, holding at a speed 3 to 5mph higher than your endurance speed.
  • If running, start sprinting between lampposts with a recovery jog between the next three lampposts. As the recovery becomes easier, reduce the recovery time down to two lampposts and then one. Alternatively time yourself over a mile or two mile distance at endurance pace, then run the same distance at a pace where it is hard to hold a conversation to beat your previous time.

Classes

  • Using classes as part of your training can add variety and interest.
  • Do pilates for core strength, GRiT for strength, yoga for flexibility and group cycle just for a good workout.

It is possible to undertake all of this training in the gym environment, using pool, static bike and treadmill. However the sport of triathlon is an outdoor activity so the training will need to go outside at some point.

Training programmes

Get stuck straight into your training with these month-by-month training programmes.

Six months to go
Five months to go
Four months to go
Three months to go
Two months to go
One month to go

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Train for a sprint-distance (aka short!) triathlon with this 12-week swimming, cycling and running plan.

“I could never do a triathlon,” the mother of three said to me in the checkout line of the grocery store, eyeballing my race T-shirt with the swim, bike and run stick figures prancing across it. This is the second most common phrase to cross my 37-year-old ears. The first is: “You did a triathlon?”

You see, I look like an average mom of two with a job and bills and stress. I am a size 10 on a great day, a size 12 on the average day and a solid 14 during the holidays. There’s nothing overly athletic or special about me, and I certainly don’t look like most people’s idea of a triathlete. But like a duck on the surface of the water, what is underneath, paddling, is not always easy to see and is even easier to underestimate.

I am here to tell you that if your heart desires to do a triathlon, then, yes, you absolutely can. Not because it’s trite, but simply because it’s 100 percent true.

When I decided to tackle the sport, I had two children under the age of two, worked full time as an attorney, commuted 12 hours a week, and on and on. (Did I mention that I weighed about 250 pounds?)

Little by little, I kept work-ing and I did, in fact, become a bona fide triathlete. I finished my first short-distance triathlon with very little skill, even less speed, but a whole lot of heart. I have now completed dozens of tris, including four of the really long and hard ones—the Ironman distance (2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike and a 26.2-mile marathon run).

Truly, if I can become a triathlete, so can you.

First swim, then bike and then run?

Correct. This is the typical order of the three events that make up a triathlon, which means you get out of the swim portion (usually in a river, lake or ocean—sometimes a pool) and hop on your bike—soaking wet. Then you get off your bicycle and run. You have a space in between each event called “transition,” which is both a noun and a verb. It is a place (the “transition area”) where you change shoes or equipment (but not outfits)— as you “transition” (the verb) from the swim to the bike, and then later, from the bike to the run. A “sprint tri,” as they are frequently called usually encompass a 300–800 yard swim, a 10–15 mile bike and 5K (3.1 miles) or shorter run.

How do I become a triathlete?

Even if you can’t run for a mile right now, swim the length of a pool or ride your bike without swearing your rear end will break—step one is believing that you can and knowing that you will. Make the decision that you will become a triathlete, and the next step is to take small, but consistent action toward that goal. So let’s get started!

Swim How Far?

Most lap pools are 25 meters (or yards) in length. So, 50 meters is two lengths, or one time down and back; 100 meters is four lengths, or twice down and back. Traditionally, you want to use the freestyle or front crawl stroke in the swim; however, for your first race, if you are comfortable doing a combination of the breaststroke and freestyle (and are competent doing this), you will be fine. If you cannot swim at all, seek out a few swim lessons. Yes, adults absolutely do take swim lessons, and it will do wonders for your confidence.

What do you need to tri?

Don’t let the gear talk discourage you. You can learn more about everything about racing at triathlon, cycling and running stores; in books and online; on YouTube and by reading the USA Triathlon rules. Truly, you need very basic equipment and can do a triathlon on the very cheap. The super-quick, bare checklist is this:

  • Goggles, swim cap, swimsuit
  • Bike, helmet, sunglasses
  • Running shoes

How can I find time for all of the training?

Basically, you want to swim, bike and run twice a week for each. The best thing to do is pick a doable schedule for you, as this sport thrives on consistency. For example, if you have a pool by your office, you might swim at lunchtime. Do not set your expectations so high that it’s impossible to meet them. As you get further along your journey, you can add distance and frequency.

RACE DAY!

On the morning of the race, stay positive. Sure, you may be nervous, but never let doubt creep in—you’ve got this! Stay focused on your finish. No matter how slowly you go—just go. Thank the volunteers and those who made your journey possible. Smile for the cameras. (And later, do not speak badly of your race photos! Because no matter how funny they may be, those puppies are proof of your amazing accomplishment.) Enjoy your hard work, your day and the fact that you did something amazing. You are a triathlete! Congratulations.

12-Week Basic Sprint Triathlon Training Plan

I recommend a minimum of 12 weeks of training, if you are a beginner who can run/walk a 5K, and who is fairly new (but capable) in the swim and bike. More advanced people may do a little less, and others may extend the training length. This is all about making your life and your training work for you! Go at your pace, be consistent and you will love it.

GET A PRINTABLE COPY OF THE 12 WEEK TRI PLAN HERE.

Meredith Atwood (@SwimBikeMom) is an attorney and author of the book Triathlon for the Every Woman. She is also a coach, a member of the Ironman and Lifetime Women For Tri advisory board, co-founder of the Swim Bike Fuel nutrition program for women and co-founder of Tri*Fe women’s triathlon race clothing in sizes XS to 4XL. She lives in Atlanta with her husband and two children, and blogs at SwimBikeMom.com.

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By Paul Ruggiero,
CTS Triathlon Coach

If you’ve always wondered what it’s like to cross the finish line at a sprint triathlon (swim < 1000 yards, bike around 10-20 miles, and run about 3 miles (5km)) you’ve come to the right place. Training for your first sprint triathlon doesn’t need to be complicated. The sprint triathlon training program below is a basic example of a professionally built training program for someone interested in getting into the sport of triathlon.

I’ve added notes for success each week to keep you on target, and I recommend you stay present in your training, take it day-by-day and week-by-week. Don’t skip ahead to the last few weeks and peek at what’s coming, let the plan unfold before you.

Before we get started, let’s answer some frequently asked questions about triathlon training plans:

MOVING WORKOUTS AROUND / MISSING SESSIONS

Life happens. Pool times change, work meetings come up, kids have sick days. It is okay to shift things within the week to meet your schedule demands, but DON’T try to make up for lost workouts. Say you miss a run on week one, DON’T ADD IT TO WEEK 3 BECAUSE YOU HAVE MORE TIME. If it’s gone, POOF, it’s gone. Always move forward and not backward. Don’t pile a bunch of stuff into one week because you feel you’re not doing enough! This is how you get hurt. Your mother and I have warned you.

ADJUSTING FOR SKILL LEVEL

Again, this is a beginner plan. If you have a bit more time and you want to add to make this a bit more complex, add time/distance to the swims. We can all work on our swims. And the swim is often the most intimidating part for beginners. Similarly, experienced runners and experienced cyclists can likewise add time to those workouts, but be careful not to add too much training stress just because that’s the sport you like the most.

CAN I USE MY ROAD BIKE?

Yes. You can use just about any bike. I once raced a sprint triathlon on a beach cruiser after I lost a bet. You don’t need a cool looking tri bike. Dust off the old road bike, get some chain lube, and start pedaling.

DIET

Athletes often ask how to use triathlon to lose weight. Yes, training consistently can lead to weight loss, but weight loss is a side benefit, not the main purpose of this plan. There’s no perfect triathlon diet. The biggest guidelines are to enough total calories to support your training and eat a varied diet rich in fruits and vegetables. Cut back or eliminate alcohol, it doesn’t do anything helpful for training. Stay on top of your hydration throughout the day. When training, drink a bottle of water or GQ6 sports drink an hour. During workouts that are longer than an hour, eat a ProBar or ProBar Bolts. They taste awesome and they are a great fuel.

WHAT’S YOUR WHY?

Ask yourself this question: Why am I doing this? Write down the answer. Is it a life goal? Are you trying to prove to someone that you can do it? Is it to prove to yourself you can do it? Put the written answer in your purse/wallet or on your mirror or someplace you will see it from time to time. Sometimes athletes get into the thick of training and lose focus on their “why”, and often training starts to fall off after that. Knowing and remembering your purpose will keep you on track when the going gets tough.

OK, now let’s go.

Download Your Free 8 Week Sprint Triathlon Training Plan

SPRINT TRIATHLON TRAINING PLAN WEEK 1 – Habits.

Don’t look at Week 1 as the start of your training. View it as the week you’re setting up the rest of your weeks of training. Take this week to not only train, but mindfully prepare for success. Spend Monday, the first day of the program, gathering everything you need. Pull together you helmet, goggles, running shoes, etc. and get them out and ready. Put them in bags so you’re ready to go to the pool or trailhead. Make sure you have water bottles. Put the gear somewhere it’s easy for you to get to and go. Learn the pool schedule. Think through and research your bike and run routes.

SPRINT TRIATHLON TRAINING PLAN WEEK 2 – Mastering and protecting your time.

Start paying attention to the little obstacles we construct that can eat away at training time. The first two weeks are about getting creating routines that help make training more effective. If you have to look around the house for a running shoe because you didn’t put it back by the door after the last run, you may need to refine your system. If you turn on the TV or an app to figure out the weather, don’t get sucked in to flipping channels or watching videos. It doesn’t take much for your training time to evaporate. Be protective of your time to train! Carve out time you can commit to and stick to it!

SPRINT TRIATHLON TRAINING PLAN WEEK 3 – Settling in.

You’re getting into the swing of it now! Maybe you’re feeling a bit tired and sore here or there. That’s okay, and normal! Embrace it! Adaptation is happening. There are two rest days in this week, soak them up. Do not train through rest days thinking “more is better”. It isn’t. Your body needs rest to adapt to the stress incurred from training. There’s a little less running as well. It takes the body the longest time to recover from running, so enjoy the extra rest.

SPRINT TRIATHLON TRAINING PLAN WEEK 4 – The Meat of the program.

Now we’re in the thick of it. Four weeks in and we’ll be turning the corner soon and heading for sprint triathlon glory. Your friends will be standing at the finish line mouths agape when you effortlessly cruise across the line. Remember your why this week. Why have you set yourself on this path? Note, we’re changing from time-based runs to distance-based runs this weekend. We’re going to try to hit the distance this weekend. (This is only applicable for a sprint race. Don’t try to mimic this weekend for other distances) If in your time-based runs you’re NOT getting 2 miles in, please use this weekend to go farther.

SPRINT TRIATHLON TRAINING PLAN WEEK 5 – Building up.

More building blocks. You’ll notice we’re taking a jump in time this weekend. The adaptation from the last four weeks should be established and you’ll be able to handle the shift to longer efforts without trouble. That’s the whole idea of training… Do the work. Rest. Reap the rewards. This isn’t the sexy part of training. This is the grind. It’s the part no one sees, but that makes all the difference.

SPRINT TRIATHLON TRAINING PLAN WEEK 6 – Test week.

Your race week will look similar to this week, so when you get there you can remember you’ve already been to that rodeo. We’re going a bit lighter during the week, then big sessions on the weekend. Prepare everything all week for the weekend. Be sure your gear is in order. Know your routes and schedule for the weekend. Sweat the details. Part of this is practicing your routines and working out the kinks so you’re more relaxed on race day.

SPRINT TRIATHLON TRAINING PLAN WEEK 7 – Prep week.

Stay on target. Don’t start panicking about a workout or two that you missed. Piling missed sessions in at this point won’t make you any fitter, but will make you more tired. Use this week and finalize plans for next weekend: travel plans, timing of departure, bags you’re going to bring, etc.

SPRINT TRIATHLON TRAINING PLAN WEEK 8 – Race week.

Let’s go racin’! But first, chill. This week you’ll find yourself with less training and more free time. This is when what I call “The Athletes Fragile Mind” comes into play. You may be nervous and feel unprepared. That is common, and even the most advanced and pros sometimes feel that way. The biggest thing to remember is: nothing you do this week will improve your fitness by the weekend. The hay is in the barn; you are as fit as you are going to be. Now your biggest task is to relax, have confidence in your preparation, and embrace the butterflies. You’ve come a long way. Don’t you DARE second-guess yourself now. You did the work; so when the gun goes off this weekend, just go.

A couple more things: You don’t need new running shoes the week of the race. You don’t need new goggles. You don’t need the fancy new nutritional drink of the month. The gear and foods that have gotten you to this point are perfect for your race day. And most of all, remember to have fun! Cheer on the person next to you, talk to the volunteers, wave to little kids, and stick around for the post-race party. You earned it.

Sprint Triathlon Training Plans

18th March 2014

Our free sprint triathlon training plans will get you started in triathlon or hone your sprint-distance speed and fitness

Using a triathlon training plan provides a guideline to improve triathlon performance, achieve better fitness and get faster quicker. It also makes it harder to get lazy and skip a day’s session. These plans will help you get the best out of your body and set a new personal best, covering everything you’ll need to build a strong swim, bike and run.

See more triathlon training plans on TriRadar including our Ironman triathlon training plans, Ironman 70.3 training plans, Olympic-distance training plans, sprint triathlon training plans, winter training plans or duathlon training plans to cover every triathlon distance.

Click on the links below to download the plans to your computer.

Beginner’s Triathlon Training Plan

This beginner’s triathlon training plan will help you get training for your first sprint triathlon. View the Beginner’s Triathlon Training Plan.

  • Weeks: 4
  • Existing fitness: Reasonable general fitness
  • Level: Beginner
  • Author: Phil Mosley – Triathlon Plus and TriRadar coaching editor and elite athlete

First Triathlon Training Plan

The First Triathlon Training Plan is a free 12-week triathlon training programme to take you from zero to a tri hero! It covers both sprint and Olympic-distance triathlon. View the Train For Your First Triathlon plan.

  • Weeks: 12
  • Existing fitness: Swim 200m non-stop, cycle 45 mins, run 20 mins
  • Level: Beginner
  • Author: Phil Mosley – Triathlon Plus and TriRadar coaching editor and elite athlete

Improve Triathlon Fitness Training Plan

This triathlon base training plan will get your fitness up for triathlon in four weeks. View the Build Your Foundation plan.

  • Weeks: 4
  • Existing fitness: Swim 200m non-stop, cycle 45 mins, run 20 mins
  • Level: Beginner
  • Author: Phil Mosley – Triathlon Plus and TriRadar coaching editor and elite athlete

Sprint Triathlon Training Plan

This sprint triathlon training plan is ideal for pool-based triathlons and will get you up to speed for your first race of the season. View the Sprint Swimming plan.

  • Weeks: 4
  • Existing fitness: Swim 400m non-stop, cycle 60 mins, run 30 mins
  • Level: Beginner
  • Author: Phil Mosley – Triathlon Plus and TriRadar coaching editor and elite athlete

Faster Triathlon Cycling Training Plan

This triathlon bike training plan will help you to improve your core cycling strength, speed and technique while also swimming and running. The plan is split into sections for athletes with 5-7 hours per week to train and those with 7-10 hours to train. View the Get Your Cycling In Gear plan.

  • Weeks: 4
  • Existing fitness: Already training around 5 hours per week
  • Level: Beginner/intermediate
  • Author: Doug Hall – Elite triathlete and coach

Build Your Run Speed Triathlon Training Plan

This triathlon run training plan is designed specifically to get your speed up in the third discipline before your big race. It’s suitable for sprint or Olympic-distance triathlons. View the Build Your Run Speed Plan.

  • Weeks: 4
  • Existing fitness: Swim 600m, cycle 90 mins, run 60 mins
  • Level: Beginner/intermediate
  • Author: Doug Hall – Elite triathlete and coach

Run Faster Triathlon Training Plan

This triathlon running training plan will help you improve your running speed for your next triathlon event. The plan is split into sections for 4-6 hours of training and 9-11 hours of training depending on your ability and current training load. For sprint triathlon, stick with the first section. View the Run Faster Plan.

  • Weeks: 4
  • Existing fitness: Swim 400m non-stop, cycle 60 mins, run 30 mins
  • Level: Beginner/intermediate
  • Author: Dr Martin Yelling – former international duathlete with a 10km PB of 29:51

Speed Building Triathlon Training Plan

Use this training plan to build triathlon speed by adding race-pace workouts into the mix and get faster quick. View the Build Your Speed plan. This plan is continued in the Race-specific Triathlon Training Plan below.

  • Weeks: 4
  • Existing fitness: Swim 400m non-stop, cycle 60 mins, run 30 mins
  • Level: Beginner
  • Author: Phil Mosley – Triathlon Plus and TriRadar coaching editor and elite athlete

Race-specific Triathlon Training Plan

This four-week triathlon training plan will build race-specific fitness for your triathlon event and features optional sessions for those with extra training time. It is suitable for sprint and Olympic-distance triathlons and follows on from the Speed Building Triathlon Training Plan above. View the Spring Speed Boost plan.

  • Weeks: 4
  • Existing fitness: Swim 400m non-stop, cycle 60 mins, run 30 mins
  • Level: Beginner/intermediate
  • Author: Phil Mosley – Triathlon Plus and TriRadar coaching editor and elite athlete

Sprint Triathlon Training Plan – Sharpen Your Sprint Speed

Build on your existing fitness with this sprint triathlon training plan to supercharge your speed for your fastest ever sprint triathlon season. The plan is split into two sections for athletes with either 8 or 12 hours per week to train. View the Sharpen Sprint Speed plan.

  • Weeks: 4
  • Existing fitness: Swim 750m, cycle 2hrs, run 30mins
  • Level: Beginner/intermediate
  • Author: Phil Mosley – Triathlon Plus and TriRadar coaching editor and elite athlete

Sprint Triathlon Training Plan – Get Round or Go Faster

Whether you’re a newbie or a seasoned sprinter, this sprint triathlon training plan will help you thrash the competition. It’s split into two sections with the first focusing on beginners wanting to complete their first race and the second for athletes wanting to race harder. View the Sprint Specific plan.

  • Weeks: 12
  • Existing fitness: Swim 400m, cycle 45 mins, run 30 mins
  • Level: Beginner/intermediate
  • Author: Doug Hall – Elite triathlete and coach

Hit Your Second Peak Triathlon Training Plan

This triathlon training plan is designed to help you hit your second racing peak ready for another big race. This 12-week plan is split into 8 and 10 hour training weeks for athletes with different time constraints. The plans are suitable for Sprint and Olympic-distance triathlons. View the Hit Your Second Peak Plan.

  • Weeks: 12
  • Existing fitness: Swim 1.5km, cycle 2hrs, run 60mins
  • Level: Beginner/intermediate
  • Author: Phil Mosley – Triathlon Plus and TriRadar coaching editor and elite athlete

Sprint Triathlon – Race Faster Training Plan

This sprint triathlon training plan will take just over five hours per week, including six workouts and a rest day. It’s designed with key workouts to boost your speed quickly over six weeks. View the race sprint triathlon faster training plan.

  • Weeks: 6
  • Existing fitness: Swim 400m, Cycle 90mins, Run 40mins
  • Level: Intermediate to advanced
  • Author: Phil Mosley – Triathlon Plus and TriRadar coaching editor and elite athlete

See more triathlon training plans on TriRadar including our Ironman triathlon training plans, Ironman 70.3 training plans, Olympic-distance training plans, sprint triathlon training plans, winter training plans or duathlon training plans to cover every triathlon distance.

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A Triathlon Training Plan for First-Timers

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If you’re not up for the challenge of an Ironman triathlon, which involves swimming 2.4 miles, biking 112 miles, and running a full 26.2 mile marathon, tackle a much shorter and more doable sprint triathlon which includes a .5 mile swim, 12.4 mile bike ride, and a 5K (3.1 mile) run. The distances may vary a bit from course to course depending on the body of water for the swim and the terrain for biking. Just be warned – a sprint tri is the gateway race to longer and longer distances. Here is the training schedule, created by the YMCA Tri Club, that I used a couple of years ago when training for my first tri. It is a great training program that slowly builds so it is great for beginners but has easy recovery weeks every three weeks or so. Even if you’re not planning on participating in a triathlon, this training schedule might be just the thing you need to get ready for the beach. You can choose to do one workout on each day of the week or double up on workouts to give yourself a rest day. Continue reading to see the 14-week training schedule.

  • By POPSUGAR Fitness @POPSUGARFitness

Beginner sprint triathlon training

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