A successful run in a triathlon begins—and ends—with a simple, straightforward training plan that focuses on quality mileage.
Endurance athletes can put in less time if they follow a plan that avoids so-called junk mileage. Here is a three-day-a-week running program designed for triathletes. While this running program is well-suited for most triathletes, be sure to modify it based on the race you're preparing for and your current fitness level.
Run Workout No 1: Track and Speed Session
Slogging away mile after mile will not improve your performance. Recreational triathletes can put in years of training, only to find they're running the same speed as two years before.
Begin by building up your aerobic endurance. This doesn't mean running slow in every workout. Track sessions, which will build endurance, strength, speed, technique and aerobic foundation, should be completed throughout the year.
Early season (16-26 weeks before your A race): Your goal during this "base phase" is to build aerobic endurance. Intervals at the track are called "cruise repeats." You should not try to run at your race pace yet.
These intervals build your aerobic foundation and train your legs to turn over faster than during a long run.
Running fast promotes proper functional movement. When you're running fast, you increase your stride length, which improves mobility and strengthens your core.
Below is an example of how to structure your early season workouts. Let's use the example of a 21-minute 5K runner—a 6:46 minute/mile. Be sure to jog for 200 meters of recovery between each set.
- Week 1: 4 sets of 400 meters at 1:45 to 1:50 minutes; 6 sets of 200 meters at 50 to 55 seconds. Total: 2,800 meters (or about 1.7 miles)
- Week 2: 5 sets of 400 meters at 1:45 to 1:50; 6 sets of 200 meters at 50 to 55 seconds. Total: 3,200 meters (or about 1.98 miles)
- Week 3: 6 sets of 400 meters at 1:45 to 1:50 minutes; 6 sets of 200 meters at 50 to 55 seconds. Total: 3,400 meters (or 2.1 miles)
- Week 4: 3 sets of 400 meters at 1:45 minutes; 4 sets of 200 meters at 50 seconds. Total: 2,000 meters (or 1.24 miles)