Train for a Triathlon in 9 Weeks

Last month I showed you how to train for a triathlon from scratch (in 12 weeks). In this column, I'll show you how a person with some fitness can train for a sprint triathlon (450 to 500 yards (or meters) of swimming, 13 to 15 miles of cycling and around 3.1 miles of running) in just nine weeks.

Are you ready to train for your first triathlon? Good, let's get started.

About You

You like to maintain some fitness year-round. You are pinched for time, so your fitness routine must be efficient.

More: 20-Minute Workouts for Endurance Athletes

Some of you may live in a busy city, where cycling outdoors during the week is difficult, if not impossible. You do your weekday cycling at the gym, either on your own or in a cycling class. Others may not live in a busy city, but due to the convenience and efficiency of a gym, you do your weekday workouts indoors. This plan is perfect for those people doing workouts indoors during the week.

Do the weekday workouts have to be done inside? No. You can do the weekday workouts outdoors if that is your preference.

Before beginning the plan, you can swim. It may have been awhile since you've done any distance swimming, but you're confident you can swim 25 yards (or meters) today. While you can swim, you currently lack swimming endurance. Don't worry, this is not a problem; you can easily build the swimming endurance you need for race day.

More: 12-Week Swim Workout Plan for Sprint Triathlons 

You are currently riding a bike (indoor bike or cycling outside) three times per week. Your current running fitness includes three runs per week at some 15 to 20 minutes per run.

Looking Ahead

Take a look at the training plan outline on page 2. Notice that your longest run in the plan is 45 minutes and the longest bike ride is 1:30. Weekly training hours total some three and a half to around five hours.

Notice that two workouts in most weeks are "bricks". This is triathlon-speak for a bike ride immediately followed by a run. This workout helps you conserve time and helps you prepare for the bike-to-run transition that takes place on race day. This transition is called "T2" with the first transition (T1) being the swim to bike transition.

Details

If you are an experienced athlete, you can plan the details of the individual workouts listed on the plan. Be careful not to make every workout a "hard" or intense workout. A guideline is to have two, and no more than three, workouts contain some fast-paced segments. The remaining workouts should be easy to moderate effort.

If you do have some swim fitness, your broken 500 can begin with 50s or 100s in week 1. If you have the fitness to begin with a 25 swim, make your first couple of workouts something like:

1.   20 x 25 (with a 10-second rest interval (RI) between each 25)
2.   10 x 25 (5-second RI), 10 x 25 (10-second RI)

If you prefer to have the workouts planned out for you and a handy training journal to track your progress, you can find details within the triathlon training plans. Two weeks of the plan details are visible by selecting the individual workouts in any given day.

More: Optimize Your Training Plan

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About the Author

Gale Bernhardt

Gale Bernhardt was the USA Triathlon team coach at the 2003 Pan American Games and 2004 Athens Olympics. She's worked as a World Cup coach and delivered education training for the International Triathlon Union's Sport Development Team. Thousands of athletes have had successful training and racing experiences using Gale's easy-to-follow training plans. You can find some of her training plans on Active Trainer to help you succeed.

Gale Bernhardt was the USA Triathlon team coach at the 2003 Pan American Games and 2004 Athens Olympics. She's worked as a World Cup coach and delivered education training for the International Triathlon Union's Sport Development Team. Thousands of athletes have had successful training and racing experiences using Gale's easy-to-follow training plans. You can find some of her training plans on Active Trainer to help you succeed.

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