Monday, March 26, 2012

Putting Together a Triathlon Training Plan

Even though I have not officially decided on which Olympic distance triathlon I will be doing this year, I am almost certain about the Terrapin Sprint Triathlon on May 6. Assuming I do the General Smallwood International Triathlon on July 8, I have 15 weeks to train. I am jumping right into triathlon training on Monday, though, since I only have 6 weeks to train to the Terrapin Triathlon.

Luckily I have a somewhat solid base in running and have a rock solid base in swimming. The problem for me is the bike. Last year I bought a nice hybrid bike which I will use since I can't justify paying $1,000-2,000 for a road or tri bike when I have never done a triathlon before. I know how to ride a bike fine and I actually really enjoy riding, the problem for me though is climbing.

Even though I have never done a triathlon before, I decided to create my own training plan. I have a lot of circumstances that do not fit into the majority of the training plans I found online and I don't want to pay for custom training. I know my strengths and weaknesses and I don't necessarily care about how speedy I am.

I have put together a plan of sorts but I decided to only lay out which workouts I want to do each week. My schedule changes from week to week and I have found that I get stressed out when I can't do the workout that is written for a particular day. I am also going to be revising and editing the plan based on what is and isn't working, and if I fall behind at all.

I am a very strong swimmer and even though I haven't been to the pool since December I know that this is by far my strongest leg and that I don't need to put much time into training for this leg. Since I was a swimmer for such a long time I really don't have to worry about much. I love doing freestyle but I also like backstroke and butterfly and like doing kicking and pulling drills. Just because triathlon has long open water swims I am not going to limit myself in the pool. I am planning on swimming twice a week for 30-45 minutes and focusing on enjoying something that I have spent my entire life doing.

This is the tricky part for me. I know the bike is my weakest leg so I want to really spend a lot of time getting myself comfortable in the saddle. The big dilemma that I have is that I don't live in a very safe area so riding outside is not really an option until classes end and I come home to Pennsylvania for the summer. I have a bike trainer and I strangely really enjoy riding on the trainer, but I know that getting outside is crucial. Luckily I should have enough time after school ends before the General Smallwood International Triathlon to get in the proper time on the roads. I also need to get comfortable using my clipless pedals. I can use them fine on the trainer because I can't fall over, but going out on the road with them terrifies me.

If only this was me..

The run in a sprint triathlon is 3.1 miles and the run in an Olympic distance triathlon is 6.2 miles, both of which I know I can successfully complete. Because I am running the Rock N' Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon in September I don't want to lose a lot of my running fitness while triathlon training. I really struggled to do the long runs while training at school though so I am excited to be able to focus on shorter distances. With that being said, though, I want to establish a nice base for when I transition back to half marathon training.

The plan:

  • 2 30-45 minute swims a week 
  • 4 bike rides a week, including a brick, a long ride, a recovery ride, and a hard ride
  • 5 runs a week, including a brick, a longer run, a recovery run, an interval run, and a whatever run
I know there is more running than what most people incorporate into triathlon training, but I am setting some big goals for myself for running this fall and I want to go into training as prepared as possible. I am also planning on adding open water swims when possible and doing two bricks a week in the summer.

The part of my training that I need to work on the most is my nutrition but that will be a whole other post so stay tuned! 


  1. It looks like you are doing a lot of biking/running. I am not an expert, but you don't want to burn yourself out. I have been doing each sport 3 x a week with one brick workout during the week (only a 20 minute run) and will be adding a second brick on the weekends as my ironman gets closer. You can probably get away with just one brick though since your goal is an oly. I guess just listen to your body and adjust your schedule as needed.

  2. Awesome to see someone else putting together their own workout plans! I put together my own based on a lot of criteria and focusing on what event is coming up as well. Just like Sarah said, listen to your body. I didn't and broke myself off because I was determined to follow my plan to a 'T'. Now I have a much more realistic one incorporating crossfit endurance, some traditional training, and crossfit football. Good luck and I'll follow to see how it goes.

  3. Yayyyyy. I'm so excited for you!!!!

    If you ever want to chat about training or anything like that, shoot me an email. Us triathletes love to talk about training :) I just started getting into tri's last year, so I had to learn everything you are learning now, not so long ago. Hell, I'm still learning things every day.

    If I could offer some advice…get some kind of run in, every time you hop off the bike. It doesn't always have to be a long one…just something. It'll help get your body and brain accustomed to running after cycling. It will also help a lot with your endurance.

    Also, don't be afraid to ask questions. I am always email other triathletes whose blogs I read and asking questions to the guys at the local bike/tri shop. I send my coach at least 4 emails a week.

    Be sure to rest one day a week for the first few weeks. You don't want to burn out your muscles.

    Congrats on the training and good luck!!!!!