A triathlon is a grueling event, so knowing how to train for a triathlon is highly important if you want to come through the event without injuries. Training for a triathlon requires a steady growth of your stamina in three different activities with three different sets of muscles. Learn how to train simultaneously for all three phases of the triathlon is a different experience from training only for a swimming exhibition, a cycling race or a running competition.
I’m assuming that most people reading this article will have never “ran” a triathlon before, so I’m assuming you’ll be wanting to know how to train for a “beginners triathlon”. That’s what this article focuses on. There are also intermediate or “olympic triathlons” and the hard core “ironman triathlons”, which include long bike rides and swims along with a full marathon. If you’ve never been in a triathlon before, start with the beginners triathlon.
How To Train For a Triathlon – Beginners Triathlon Training
A beginners triathlon is typically a half-mile swim, a 12-mile bike ride and a 3-mile run. The biking and running might not sound that grueling, but until you’ve swam a mile before you’ve performed these other exercises, your body and mind won’t be used to the stresses place them.
- Train To Your Weaknesses – Inevitably, you’ll have one of the three aspects of the triathlon that is your weakness. You might be a strong runner and a good cyclist, but you might not have ever trained much for swimming. Even if you have trained for each three, one of these phases of the triathlon will still be weaker than the others. When you start to train, don’t train to your strengths, but train to your weaknesses.
What does “training to your weakness” mean? That means if you are weakest at swimming, you need to build up your skill and stamina at swimming. If you aren’t so good at running or biking, then focus on either one of these that is your weak point. To many times, people train to their strengths, because that is what they are good at and therefore they’re less likely to get frustrated training their strong suit.
- Train to Cycle in a Triathlon – Train on the bike at the middle of your comfort zone, going maybe 10 or so miles for 10 minutes at a time when you start training. Once again, this can take place on a road bike or a stationary bike.
- Train to Swim a Triathlon – Find a local pool to swim at when starting to train for a triathlon. If you can’t find a swimming pool for a daily swim, then start rowing on a rowing machine. This builds the arm stamina and upper body strength needed to swim 1/2 a mile.
- Switch the Training Day-to-Day – Train at each of the three phases of a triathlon, but don’t train at each of them daily. Switch between running, biking and swimming from day to day. Build up your stamina at each, but don’t burn yourself out by training at all three on any given day. Rotate the training and build up your intensity and time as you go.
- Build Up to 1 to 3 Hours Per Day – By the time you’ve finished your training, you’ll need to be training from one to three hours per day when preparing for a triathlon. If you’re a beginning triathlon athlete, you’ll probably be closer to the 1 hour than 3 hour training process. If you can’t commit to at least one hour per day on a consistent basis, you don’t need to be competing in a triathlon. Train about five to six days a week on this schedule.
- Rest When You Are Tired – If your body is tired, take a day off. Consistency builds stamina, but you don’t want to set yourself back by straining your body or injuring yourself.
- Train the Proper Length of Time – People who are in average shape should build up their stamina and ability for six months before running a triathlon. Those who are in better-than-average shape should train for at least three months for a beginners triathlon.
- Build To Distances 2 Months Before Race – Be able to handle the distances of the race up to two months before the triathlon. That is, be able to handle the three mile run any given day, or the 12 mile bike ride any given day or swim one-half a mile any given day. This does not mean you should try all three any given day. Just be able to handle each one at a time, but have your stamina for each built up a couple of months before the triathlon date.
- Put the Pieces Together One Month Before Race – One month prior to the triathlon, be able to put all three triathlon events together into one workout. Make these high intensity workouts for relatively short distances. Get your pace up for each leg of the triathlon. Don’t worry about conquering the distance aspect of each phase of the triathlon, because you could causes injuries through stress or blisters that would end or set back your triathlon preparation.
- Taper Down One Week Before – One week before the triathlon, taper down your training to relatively short intervals at relatively light intensities. This keeps your muscles fit, but lets them relax and regenerate. You need to build up your strength in preparation for the triathlon, while continuing to hone your triathlon skills.
- Get Plenty of Rest – In the week before the triathlon, get plenty of sleep. Also eat high-carbohydrate foods and lower your fat intake in the week before the race. This should be done throughout the triathlon training cycle, but you need to focus on this in the days before the race. You want to build yourself to peak efficiency on the day of the triathlon race.