Finding A Triathlon Training Plan That Works For You
Triathlon training can be overwhelming: ‘You mean I have to train for three different sports, one of which requires being submersed in water… and I don’t get to stop in between?’
How many times a week do you have to train? Can you train with a job, or a family, or a life (or with all of the above)? And how do you go about finding a triathlon training plan that works for you, around your schedule?
Fortunately, you’re not the first to have these questions. The simple answers are that, yes, you can train for a triathlon (and still have a life) and that there is a plethora of information out there to help you construct a training plan and a race schedule. But the information can be just as overwhelming as the questions.
So how much time do you need to spend training? Where can you find a training plan that’s easy to understand and follow- and preferably inexpensive, or even free?
Presumably if you’re looking for a training plan, you have a race in mind. The distance that you are training towards will influence the time you will need to spend training and what type of plan will work best. Many busy new triathletes start with a sprint or a supersprint; a great idea when trying to determine if triathlon is for you and while discovering how to fit training into your schedule. But even if you’ve chosen a standard-distance (Olympic) race, there are training plans that will get you across the finish line without spending more than five or six hours a week training.
One site that offers free, flexible training plans is Beginner Triathlete. True to its name, the site is beginner-friendly, offering training plans in minutes instead of miles, so they are easy to read and follow. Worried about one discipline in particular? Beginner Triathlete’s ‘focused’ plans allow you to choose what needs the most work and provides more training in that area. Want a plan that is nicely balanced between disciplines? Choose the balanced plan. Training schedules are roughly 16 weeks in duration and range from 2-8 hours a week (depending on your chosen race distance and how close you are to race day).
If you’re looking for more detail, Tri Newbies offers free beginner training plans in miles, with specific workouts (how long to warm up, when to cool down, how hard to go and for how long). Their beginner sprint plan is 11 weeks in duration, with time per week variable based on how long it takes you to cover the prescribed distances. Some of the sessions are based around heart rate, which does add another element to think about, but because each workout is so descriptive, you’re never left to figure things out on your own.
Have a million questions about triathlon, including training? Of course, we highly recommend the range of articles on Trigirl to answer your questions about all things triathlon including how to get started and triathlon training tips. Another handy resource is The 220 Triathlon Beginner’s Guide. The guide includes a fitness level questionnaire to help figure out where you are in your fitness right now, as well as a six- to eight-week training plan (based on current fitness level) for a sprint-distance race. Plans range from a maximum of four to a maximum of six hours a week, so you really can fit training into your life!
Online resources are just one way to develop your training schedule. Many books on the market including training plans (we really like Triathlon: Start to Finish by Sam Murphy) and magazines such as 220 Triathlon and Triathlon Plus offer session suggestions when you’re looking to mix things up with an exciting new workout. Of course, magazines also feature training plans online for yet another option!
No matter what level of fitness or how time-constrained you might be, there is a triathlon training plan out there for you. And if you have more training questions, we’re always here to help.