Triathlon Training Tips

Running. Biking. Swimming. Each of these are by no means an easy feat, so how do you them all together in triathlon?

Call it intimidating, brand it as daunting, but, a triathlon can be done, even by those who have never participated in one.

Types Of Triathlons

Sprint Triathlon

• Half mile swim
• 19-mile bike ride
• 3.1-mile run

Basic Triathlon – The first, and most commonly used format for triathlon distance races follows international Olympic guidelines and includes:

• .93 mile swim
• 24.8 mile bike ride
• 6.2 mile run

Half Ironman

• 1.2 mile swim
• 56 mile bike ride
• 13 mile run

The Iron Man Triathlon

• 2.4-mile (3.9-kilometer) swim
• 112-mile (180-kilometer) bike ride
• 26.2-mile (42.2-kilometer) marathon run


According to Sam Cardona, who is an eight-time Ironman competitor, it takes three months to properly prepare for a triathlon. Triathlon is a sport, and as, such there is a science to it. To be a successful triathlete—or at least start training to become one—takes a lot of hard work, but, it surely can be done with the right mindset and proper guidance.

Here are some tips to get you started.

Build on your weakness, not your strength

A triathlon involves three disciplined events, namely swimming, cycling and long distance running, so your training requires you to develop your skill and endurance in each of these key sports. You may be as good as Michael Phelps when it comes to swimming, but, if you do not embark on a multi-sport training, you will not succeed as a triathlete.

If you are training for a triathlon, chances are you already have a background in at least one sport, so build on what you are good at, but, remember that triathlon requires you to be good at not one, but, three key sports.

This means it is important to train in all three sports, this include lap swimming, running and bike riding. The goal is always to build up speed and endurance.

Develop a workout plan that builds your strength and endurance

What kind of training plan should you have? By all means go for one which develops your overall muscle tone and helps you achieve high levels of cardiovascular strength.

This will help you build core strength and endurance, so, you have what it takes to see you through all three phases of triathlon over great distances. Remember, you’re gunning for triathlon, not sprint, so short bursts of speed just won’t cut it.

When doing your training, keep in mind that the human body is a stunning piece of engineering. Your body becomes stronger as you train, but, if you keep on doing the same workout, your body’s strength development level will also stagnate.

Plan your workouts so that your level of training progresses as you go along. Refrain from allowing your body to get used to your workouts by incorporating exercises and workout sessions that change in form and cycle from time to time so you are able to constantly challenge your body.

Perfecting the time and needed speed for each portion of the race is also important and that takes constant practice 6 days per week.


For swimming he recommends 30 minute laps on one day and then 45 minute lap sessions on another day, laps should be swam at a consistent pace without stopping.


One day should be dedicated to a long bike ride, at least 60 to 90 minutes.

Run Speed Training

Then there is speed work for the run portion. Cardona recommends doing runs that include speed work and also uphill runs to improve strength and technique.

A week of training is topped off with a 5k tempo run, performed at both a consistent and fast pace. The main race speed portion should be about 20 minutes of the workout, but, you should increase the time spent at race pace each week until you’re able to run the entire race distance at that pace.

Keep your training regular so you don’t lose the benefits of your previous workouts, but, do so in a pace and regularity that your body’s current abilities allow.

Strength training

Cardona recommends those in training to perform strength exercises on the same days as swimming training is performed. The workouts should target full body conditioning, and work those muscles most needed for the event.

The moves he recommends are lat pull downs, shoulder presses, and lateral raises. For the legs, good workouts include, leg extensions and hamstring curls. And, also core workouts are important, like planks and v-ups.

Unlike body builders, those training for a triathlon do not want to build bulk, strength and tone is what is needed, and therefore, it is best to train with 3 sets of 10 reps for each lift.

Day of rest

To prevent injury it is recommended that you take one day of rest to allow for muscle recovery that prevents injury.

Supply your body with the right kind of fuel

If you think that hard core cross-training is all there is to triathlon training, think again. Whether you’re doing a sprint triathlon or Ironman, your training will push your body to the max. You will be burning more energy during training than most people do for an entire day, so, you need the right fuel to keep you going.

Develop a healthy meal plan that will give you maximum energy to endure your training. Avoid eating processed food and binging on energy drinks because the unhealthy ingredients and chemicals in these food items will weaken your immune system and slow down your recovery time.

Nevertheless, take it easy on the protein, as you are training as a triathlete and not a bodybuilder. Focus on having whole foods like, vegetables and fruits, whole grains and lean meats in your diet and make sure to incorporate complex carbs for energy before workouts and hydrating liquids after to replenish the body.

Acclimate to your new lifestyle

Participating in a triathlon should not be a one-off thing, even if for now you do train just to have a shot at your first triathlon. Being on top of your game often requires serious commitment, so, it is best to develop an attitude that a triathlon is actually a lifestyle sport.

If you aren’t already living the life of a sportsman, embrace the fact that you should, as it will facilitate life-long success in either this sport, or any others you may participate in, like marathons.

From changing your sleeping habits in order to ensure that you have enough time and energy to go through your training to specifically planning out your day to ensure enough room for daily workouts to developing commitment and passion to be a good athlete, accept the fact that training for a triathlon will change your lifestyle.

Participating in a triathlon can be a rewarding experience, as it can bring great physical and mental benefits, just be sure to do it right and your hard work will be rewarded.

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