The 80-Minute Training Plan

Table II illustrates the same approach for a newer or less-motivated athlete. This example represents a 25-year-old male getting back into shape:

Table II. Beginner / newly-motivated hour-twenty example training plan:


Swim 45 Minutes
swim muscular endurance

Run 30 Minutes
run aerobic endurance

Swim 45 minutes

  • 400 easy swim
  • 100 easy kick
  • 4 x 50 drills on :15
  • 8 to 10 x 100 moderate on :15 rest
  • 100 cool down

Run 30 minutes

  • 15 minutes easy
  • 10 minutes moderate
  • 5 minutes easy


Bike 75 Minutes
bike endurance/ muscular endurance / anaerobic endurance

Ride 1 hour 15 minutes

  • 30 minutes easy
  • 5 x 3 minutes hard (lactate threshold effort) with 3 minutes easy between each
  • 15 minutes easy cool down


Day Off



Run 50 Minutes
run anaerobic endurance

Swim 25 Minutes
swim endurance

5-Minute Transition

Run 50 minutes – 20 minutes easy / 6 x 400 on track (or 2:00 on road) at 10k pace with 200 jog easy between / 10 minutes easy

Swim 25 minutes easy-steady continuous


Bike 50 Minutes
bike muscular endurance

Strength 20 Minutes

Ride 50 minutes

  • 20 minutes easy
  • 20 minutes moderate hard steady
  • 10 minutes easy

Core strength workout 20 minutes –

  • standing or jump squats
  • push ups
  • planks
  • pull ups
  • sit ups or crunches


Day Off



90-Minute Ride
bike endurance

20-Minute Run
run endurance

Ride 90 minutes to 2 hours solo or with a group, steady moderate effort

Run 20 minutes off the bike steady effort


The plan above is just under seven hours.

There are many challenges I face as a coach when planning for training and racing. Helping motivated athletes avoid injury and burnout while challenging their limits is their biggest challenge.

Keeping newer or less-motivated athletes consistent with a plan that helps to build their endurance, confidence, and ultimately improve their speed is their biggest challenge.

Each athlete is different, entering into a training plan with strengths and weaknesses. My purpose in writing this article is to detail a method for triathlon training that does not require a lockdown on all your free time while still producing solid results for short to intermediate distance events.

The proliferation of 70.3 and IRONMAN racing, while great for the sport, has many newcomers and even some veterans thinking that they aren't a "real" triathlete unless they compete in long distance events or take part in multi-hour sessions several times per week. Nothing could be further from the truth. Sprint and Olympic-distance triathlons are challenging endurance races. You can suffer greatly and adequately build your character in one or two hours as well as twelve.

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Marty Gaal, CSCS, is a USA Triathlon certified coach. He has been competing in triathlon since 1989. He qualified for and raced the Ironman World Championships in 2005, but really prefers sprints and Olympic distance races because he can still walk and talk after. He coaches both long and short course age group triathletes and co-owns One Step Beyond Multisport with his wife, Brianne. You can find out more at

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