Runners run, Cyclists cycle, and Swimmers swim. Triathletes do all three! Your first triathlon may seem overwhelming, but if you look at training in little chunks it may be less daunting. Set a weekly goal of doing two to three workouts in each mode: three swims, three runs, and three bike rides. Be consistent and it will become a habit that leads to better health and fitness.
Nine workouts in one week? Yes and no. You can swim and bike or run on the same day. A few weeks into training you should do a combined a bike and run workout (called a brick) every week or two (note - by doing bricks, you are training specifically for a triathlon. This can help your body and mind get used to changing gears during the race). You should take one day off each week to give your body time to adapt to training, and you should incorporate what you already do into your training, like regular PT runs.How could you arrange your week of workouts? One example:
- Mon: Bike
- Tue: Morning Run, Lunchtime Swim
- Wed: Bike
- Thu: Morning Run, Lunchtime Swim
- Fri: Run in the morning
- Sat: Bike, start and finish at the pool, Swim afterward
- Sun: Off
TOTAL WEEKLY DISTANCE AT HIGHEST LEVEL:
Swim = 175m-400m race = 500m-1200m/week (you could increase the swim to 4-5x race distance, but keep it short for your first training plan)
Bike = 10-15k race = 30-45k or 18-28 miles/week
Run = 5k race = 15k or 9 miles/week
=== What Training Do I Do? ===
What kind of training can you do for each part of a triathlon - swim, bike, run, and the transitions (that's the parts between the swim/bike and the bike/run)? For someone just starting triathlons, the first step is to do swims, bike rides, and runs, gradually building up to and even beyond the race distance (for shorter races). Beyond that, what else can you do? Mix up the workouts you do. Below are some ideas.
Swim: Do some steady, long swims, working up to non-stop swims of the full race distance or longer. Hold back a bit at the start of the swim and do the entire swim at the same pace or get slightly faster towards the end. Do a series of shorter swims with short rest, working up to the series of swims equaling the race distance or longer. Take just enough rest to allow you to maintain the same effort level for all of the swims. A third type is short swims with rest equal to or up to double the amount of time it took for the swim. You do these almost as fast as you can, trying to average the fastest possible speed for all of the swims. TIP: Another way to measure rest besides time is to count your breaths, giving yourself a fixed number of breaths between each swim.
Bike: Like swim training, you can do similar things on the bike by alternating easy and fast efforts. You could do a longer, steady bike ride, do some shorter faster efforts within a longer bike ride, or even go on a ride and try to ride up every hill you can find. Hills may seem like a crazy idea, but they are a great way to build strength, start each hill in a moderate to easy gear and keep your pedals spinning, moving into easier gears if your pedals start to slow.
Run: Just like swimming and cycling, you can do similar workouts. Another idea is to work up to full race distance by doing steady, increasing distance runs with pre-planned walk breaks if needed (for example, from the beginning of the workout, run 3 minutes, walk 1 minute). You can also do shorter, faster intervals within a longer session. Hills are great for run strength, too; aim to keep a steady pace all the way up the hill - if you cannot, then you went to fast at the start of the climb. TIP: Learn to look forward to hills and running in Okinawa will get much easier!
Transition: How fast you can change your mode of movement will probably not make the difference in your first triathlon, but being ready for those changes will make it easier and more fun. Practice putting on and taking off each piece of gear in the same order of the way you will do it at the race. Do some transition practices as dedicated sessions, and do some as part of a combined two-mode session (swim-bike, bike-run, run-bike, or bike-swim) or even three-mode session. TIP: As you near the end of a swim, bike, or run, do a quick mental check of what you will be doing in transition to change modes.
Training for Your First Triathlon
Triathlon Workouts and Training Part I
Workouts and Training Part II
The Last Few Weeks Before A Race