Nail Your First Triathlon With This 6-Week Training Plan

A sprint triathlon challenges your whole body, doesn’t suck up your life in training, and has you finished and showered before brunch starts. In typical sprint races, you take an hour, maybe an hour and 30 minutes, to really push it through a 750-meter swim, a 12- to 15-mile bike, and a 5K run. It’s aerobic. It’s strategic. It’s competitive. And you get to really let it rip, flying through each leg as fast as your body will let you. You get built-in cross training, the sweet reward of a finish line, and maybe even a medal.

You really only need about 6 weeks to train for your first triathlon. This beginner plan challenges you mentally and physically while getting you race ready on just four workouts a week. Don’t forget to rest: It’s scheduled in the program, and is so important that each week you need at least two days completely away from exercise to avoid overtraining. For more details on what to expect during training, pick up The Triathlete’s Training Bible—the new book from legendary triathlon coach Joe Friel.

You’ll build your skills in each discipline in the first two weeks. In Week Three, you’ll start to practice race skills. A key workout during that week: the brick. That’s where you bike and then run immediately afterward, an awkward transition that makes your legs feel as if they’re bricks (you just can’t get them moving as quickly as you’d like). But with practice, you’ll get used to running through that transition and getting up to pace for the 5K.

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How hard to train for your triathlon

With this plan, you’ll work out at different intensities during different weeks. Each intensity level, or training “Zone,” corresponds to a specific target heart rate in relation to your maximum heart rate (sometimes calculated as 220 minus your age).

The Training Plan

Week 1

Week 2

Week 3

Week 4

Week 5

Week 6

For a complete guide to training and what to expect on race day, see our Triathlon Training Guide.

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