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Training for Your First Triathlon

  • September 11, 2012
  • By Brittany
  • 0 Comments
Training for Your First Triathlon

Recently I posted that I had just completed my first sprint triathlon (0.4 mile swim, 11.5 mile bike and 2.3 mile run).  As promised, I am providing you, my lovely readers, with my training schedule!  Pete and I signed up to do the triathlon for a couple of different reasons: 1) it was on my 30 Under 30 List; 2.) we wanted to spend more time outside this summer exercising; 3.) we felt if would be a great accomplishment; and 4.) we wanted to be able to train together.  Pete and I both work demanding jobs that sometimes requires long hours, so training can be difficult.  In order to find our *balance* and commit to training together, I had to develop a plan!  If you know me, this did not require twisting my arm!

But seriously people, having an exercise plan helps in soooo many ways.  First, it takes the thinking out of what you are doing because you have a schedule already planned out.  Don’t think, just do!  If you create your plan correctly, you should be gradually increasing your distance and speed, which helps you prepare for race day.  And finally, it is just really rewarding to look back and see what you have done!  So here is my super-duper tri training plan.

Weeks 1-12

Week 1
1x per week*- Swim 500 yards, run 1- 1.5 miles
3x per week**- Bike 30 minutes
1x per week- Run 1.5-2 miles

Week 2
1x per week- Swim 600 yards, run 1.5 miles
1x per week-Bike 30 minutes
2x per week-Bike 35 minutes
1x per week- Run 2 miles

Week 3
1x per week-Swim 650 yards, run 2 miles
1x per week- Bike 35 minutes
2x per week- Bike 40 minutes
1x per week- Bike 20 minutes/run 20 minutes

Week 4
1x per week-Swim 700 yard, run 1.75 miles
1x per week- Bike 40 minutes
2x per week-Bike 45 minutes
1x per week- Run 30 minutes

Week 5
1x per week- Swim 800 yards, run 2 miles
1x per week- Bike 45 minutes
2x per week- Bike 50 minutes
1x per week- Bike 25 minutes/run 2 miles

Week 6

1x per week-Swim 850 yards, run 1.5 miles
1x per week-Bike 50 minutes
2x per week-Bike 55 minutes
1x per week-Bike 30 minutes/run 20 minutes

Week 7
1x per week- Swim 900 yards, run 2 miles
1x per week- Bike 55 minutes
2x per week-Bike 60 minutes
1x per week-Run 30 minutes

Week 8
1x per week- Swim 750 hards, run 2 miles
1x per week-Bike 45 minutes
2x per week- Bike 50 minutes
1x per week- Bike 25 minutes/run 20 minutes

Week 9
1x per week- Swim 800 yards, run 2 miles
1x per week-Bike 60 minutes
2x per week-Bike 45 minutes
1x per week-Run 30 minutes

Week 10
1x per week-Swim 850 yards, run 2.5 miles
1x per week-Bike 45 minutes
2x per week-Bike 50 minutes
1x per week-Run 3 miles

Week 11

1x per week-Bike 45 minutes
1x per week-Bike 60 minutes
1x per week-Run 30 minutes
1x per week-Complete entire race distance

Week 12
1x per week- Bike 45 minutes
1x per week- Run 35 minutes
1x per week- Bike 40 minutes
Day Before Race-rest/yoga

* I only swam once a week because I just did not have access to a pool twice a week.  Ideally, if you can swim 2x per week you will be in much better shape for the swim.  Most people struggle with the swim so the extra day can really help.  If you are like me and just don’t have that much access, stick to once a week and add in an extra run/bike day like I did.

** I did a combination of biking outdoors, using the upright stationary bike at the gym and attending spinning classes.


This plan is perfect for anyone who has never done a triathlon before and wants to try out a sprint tri.  It does require that you are already in moderately good shape and have been exercising for awhile.  If you are really a beginner you should plan on giving yourself more time and start out with even shorter distances.  On the run you can incorporate intervals of running and walking until you are able to run the full distance without stopping (but remember, on the day of the tri if you need to stop and walk it is really no big deal!).  If you are more advanced or are going for the whole shabang (i.e. full triathlon), well, this training plan is a good place to start but you are going to need to advance in distance much faster and should probably consult someone with more experience than me! 🙂

Some helpful tips for your first tri:

1.) Practice, practice, practice- If you can, try and complete the three events as you will be completing them on race day.  I did a combo of spinning and outdoor biking to prepare.  Obviously you cannot always get your bike out and go for a ride so the indoor bike is a quick and easy option that still works the same muscles but you want to make sure you spend ample enough time on the bike to get used to riding outdoors.  You will need to know how to work your gears, take bumps, pedal up hills and much more when you are actually racing so getting on your bike as much as possible is key.  Same with the swim.  Pete and I trained in the pool the most because it was the most accessible but we made a point to practice in the ocean as well.  We swam in Plymouth, Ma and even in the beginning of September, the water is COLD!  This would have been a huge shock to us if we were swimming in a heated pool all summer.  Plus, your visibility in the ocean is much different than a pool.  You need to get used to not being able to guide yourself with a line at the bottom of a pool!

2.) Practice different terrains- Unless you have previewed the race course, you really don’t know what kind of terrain you will be embarking on!  The bike route could be completely flat or full of hills-practice both.  Same goes for the run.  The swim could be flat calm or choppy.  Its important to be prepared for all types of terrain so there are no surprises.

3.) Break your gear in- Don’t buy new gear just for the race.  Purchase all new apparel and equipment early enough in your training so you can get used to how everything works and feels.  Again, we want to avoid all surprises on race day if possible.  This goes for your bike, running shoes, swimsuit or wetsuit, goggles, helmet, etc.

4.) Eat well, sleep well- You’ll perform your best if you are doing this throughout.  Its not always easy but try to stay on track.  Eat nutritious food that combines whole grain carbs, lean proteins, fruit and veg.  Drink plenty of water.  Sleep 7-8 hours a night.  I know, I know-easier said than done!

5.) Train with someone- The best part of completing my first tri was doing it with Pete.  Honestly, we had a blast.  We had an activity to do together all summer and it is extremely motivating to know that you are racing not just yourself but someone else!!!  The whole time I was racing I kept going to see if I could beat Pete (we ended up with only a minute difference in our times).

6.) Don’t sweat it- Don’t build the tri up to something it isn’t.  Yes, its a race but it is also something you are doing for fun.  Unless you are thinking of becoming pro, try not to worry too much.  Just finishing is amazing!

By Brittany, September 11, 2012
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About Brittany
Brittany Bendall is a hardcore barre and pilates instructor with a passion for staying fit and living a healthy and amazing life!

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