Triathlon Training Program for Beginners

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The thought of getting ready for a short triathlon can be a daunting prospect for the average athlete. Brendon Downey explains some of the key points to ensure that individuals can get ready to do their first triathlon.

Triathlon, it conjures up images of extremely fit, lean individuals battling the sun and the elements in the all day gruelathon of the Hawaii Ironman. No wonder many people secretly wish that they could do one but are too afraid to give it a go.

The first myth to dispel is that not all triathlons take all day. The local Corporate Triathlon (Swim 400m, Cycle 18km and Run 4km) will take normal people around an hour, going at a steady pace including some walking during the run section. Just about anyone can complete a triathlon of this size. One of the great aspects of these events is the team concept. Each team comprises of 3 individuals who each complete the whole course, one at a time in relay. It can be a great team building exercise.

Swim
For a lot of people the swim is often the area that creates the most fear of triathlons. A 400m swim can be very off putting to non swimmers. If you havent swum for a few years/decades start slowly. Some swimming pools are quite shallow, allowing you to stand up at any time, something that will take a lot of the fear out of swimming. Start with short pieces of say 10-15m. If it has been quite a while or you really dont know how to swim call your local swimming centre who will get you in touch with an adult swim instructor. They will usually be able to get you swimming in only a couple of weeks. The key is to slowly increase your distance and start with broken swimming see the programme for more detail.

Bike
The bike leg is the easiest section to get ready for. If you are tired you can always free-wheel. Again start slowly -if you are not confident cycling on the road start by cycling at the local park. A basic mountain bike and helmet is all that is needed. This leg is short so you dont have to do a lot of training to get ready for a 10km cycle (See the programme for more details). If you dont like to go on the roads, another good option is to use the cycles at your local gym.

Run
Yes it is called a run but you can actually walk. There is no rule that says that you must run the whole way -in fact many people will walk all or nearly all of the run section. Make sure that you have some energy at the end so that you can look good as you run across the finish line!

What do you need to do to get ready for the run?

There are two main points for the run section.

First and foremost cover the distance in ONE training run. This does not mean that you must do this every week -you should build up to run distance over a 4 week period. If you have never run before start with a short walk of say 20 minutes and include a little running. The bottom line is that at the very least you can walk the whole way (See the programme for more detail).

Secondly practice running off the bike. One of the hardest parts of the triathlon is the start of the run. When you get off the bike your muscles are tired from cycling and also your body is sending oxygen to your cycling muscles creating the jelly legs feeling the best way to get around this is to do a couple of Brick (because thats what your legs can feel like) sessions. These involve a short run off the bike on a couple of occasions prior to your event.

Classic Mistakes when Training for a Triathlon

1) Too Much
More is not always better. Be realistic the basic programme provided will get you there. If you have a demanding job, a life and would still like to have some friends after the triathlon, keep to what is required.

2) Too Long
Classic mistake two is thinking that what ever training is not enough. Once you have reached the race distances, the buzz on the day will get you through the event.

3) Too Intense
Not only does your average Type-A Exec go too fast training but they also tend to put in a lot of effort at the start of the programme, do not miss sessions and end up injured or burnt out before the event.

Final Note
When you get to the event remember what your goals were at the start. If your aim was just to finish dont get sucked into having to beat someone else or a time. Finishing a triathlon is a great personal achievement in itself. Have some fun and enjoy the post race activities.

The 6 Week Basic Triathlon Program

Weeks 1 2 3 4 5 6
Mon Swim
4x50m
Easy
Swim
6x50m
Easy
Swim
3x100m
Steady
Swim
2x150m
Steady
Swim
2x200m
Steady
Swim
2x200m
Easy
Tues Bike
15min
Easy
Bike
20min
Easy
Bike
15min
Easy
Bike
20 min
Hills
Bike
20 min
Hills
Bike
10 min
Easy
Wed Run
2.5km
Walk-Run
Run
3km
Walk-Run
Run
2.5km
Walk-Run
Run
3.5km
Walk-Run
Run
4km
Walk-Run
Run
2km
Walk-Run
Thur Swim
200m
Swim
300m
Swim
300m
Swim
300m
Swim
400m
Swim
4x100m
Fri Day Off Day Off Day Off Day Off Day Off Day Off
Sat Bike
5km
Easy
Bike
8km
Easy
Bike
8km
Easy
Bike 10km hills with 5min easy run after Bike 10km steady on race course with 5 min easy run after Day Off
Sun Run
2.5km
Walk-Run
Run
3km
Walk-Run
Run
2.5km
Steady in hills
Run
3.5km
Some Walking
Run
4km
Try to run whole distance
Race

Notes.
Feel free to swap the weekend bike and run around or the Tuesday and Wednesday bike and run if it fits in better with your other commitments or if you can train with someone else.

Brendon Downey of EnduranceCoach.com is an Exercise Physiologist, Level 2 triathlon coach, and coach to Sam Warriner, the 2003 ITU Oceania Champion. Coaching and detailed training programs are available at EnduranceCoach.com

Website: http://www.endurancecoach.com/

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