Pace your ironman ride perfectly ON THE COVER
There’s more than one way to train for your first tri
Coach Garth Fox gives you the best strategies for riding right
The term ‘triathlon’ incorporates so many different kinds of races that it’s hard to create a one-size-fits-all approach to training for your first one. And that’s before you take into account the huge variety of backgrounds from which people come into the sport in the first place.
For this guide, in an attempt to simplify matters, we’ve just come up with three six-week training plans to get you ready for a super-sprint or sprint triathlon. So you’ll be swimming a maximum of 750m, cycling a maximum of 25km, and running a maximum of 5km in your race. You may have already chosen and entered your first triathlon race, in which case your training will be dictated to some extent by when and what that race is. If not, it’s better to consider your starting point and work out how much training you can do before committing to anything. Here’s how to find out which of our three plans you should be following.
Plan A: Zero to hero
This plan does what it says on the tin: takes you from no triathlon experience at all to racing a triathlon in six weeks time. That’s not actually too long to train for tri from scratch, so we’ve aimed this plan at a shorter super-sprint distance (usually 400m swim/10-15km bike/2.5-5km swim), with a pool swim.
This plan is for you if:
- You have little or no experience in triathlon - You don’t consider yourself very fit at the moment - You have less than five hours each week to devote to training - You’re happy to aim for a super-sprint and build up later
Plan B: Extra time
Like our first plan, this is aimed at total beginners in triathlon. The only difference here, as the name suggests, is that you have a bit more time you can give over to triathlon training. The beauty of tri is that you can train a bit more than in single-sport racing without risking injury, by working on low-impact activities like swimming and cycling and using some of your time to improve your technique.
This plan is for you if
- You have little or no experience in triathlon - You don’t consider yourself very fit at the moment
- You are weak in one or more of the tri disciplines, and want to improve - You’re prepared to commit five hours a week to training - You’re happy to aim for a sprint triathlon in six weeks’ time
Plan C: Sharpen up
Try this plan if you’re coming to triathlon with a reasonable degree of fitness: you might already be a swimmer, cyclist or runner (even if that means just commuting to work by bike). We’re going to build on that foundation to sharpen up your skills and speed in all three disciplines so you can race a sprint-distance or – if you’ve got a few years fitness training behind you – an Olympic-distance race in six weeks time.
This plan is for you if:
- You can already exercise at a moderate level for half an hour - You have some experience in swimming, cycling or running (you don’t need any tri experience) - You don’t have much time to train - You know your limits and are prepared to push them - You’d like to aim for a time in a sprint race, with the option to go up to Olympic distance if you feel comfortable, in six weeks’ time