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Triathlon Training: A Starters Guide To a Sprint

What is a triathlon? Our introduction to triathlon blog post covered the basics and hopefully showed you that, with preparation, completing one is totally doable! With this second post in our triathlon series, I explain how take your ambitions across the finish line. I recommend a sprint triathlon for your first event.What are the distances for the standard sprint triathlon?

  • Swim: 750 m
  • Bike: 20 km
  • Run: 5 km. 

Wait, don’t stop reading! This may look a bit overwhelming, but here are a few hints to help you succeed.

If you are new to endurance activities, a progressive training program that is 12 weeks long will help you get prepared. For those who regularly do endurance sports, a shorter time frame of about eight weeks of training should be sufficient. Work at a pace that is comfortable for you. Use this example of a weekly training schedule:

  Swim Bike Run
Monday Rest day Rest day Rest day
Tuesday Morning swim   Evening run
Wednesday   Bike  
Thursday Short swim Short bike  
Friday     Evening run
Saturday   Long bike  
Sunday   Bike Run

The Swim:

  • If the swim section of the triathlon you plan to participate in is in open water, join an open water swim group to familiarize yourself to swimming in a less controlled environment (e.g., bigger waves) and with people nearby.
  • Swim in a pool on alternate days to help focus on your technique.
  • Consider taking a few lessons to improve your efficiency.

PAL Pro-tip: If you get cold in open water, a swim cap and wetsuit will keep you warmer!

The Bike:

  • On your weekly long ride, practice on terrain similar to that of the race course (i.e., hills, flat, and rolling).
  • Doing back-to-back swim-bike or bike-run workouts (called a “brick”) gives you experience switching between sports and using your muscles in different patterns.
  • Staying hydrated and keeping your nutrition up is very important during your training and event day. Practice drinking and eating on the bike. This is easiest place to eat during a triathlon.

The Run:

  • Determine the pace (minutes per km) you hope to run the 5 km at during training. For example, doing 6 minutes per kilometer will give you a run time of about 30 minutes.

Equipment and other things to consider:

  • Test all your equipment beforehand.
  • Practice taking off your wetsuit (if you`re using one) and putting on your shoes and helmet quickly. If you’re using cycling shoes, practice replacing them for your runners.
  • Lastly, don’t forget to practice your finish line dance! 

These are all general recommendations. A personalized approach yields the best results; the Physical Activity Line can help you design a training plan. Call 1-877-725-1149!


Related blogs:

Running Race Preparation
Getting Ready for Your First Big Bike Ride

Recommend resources:

TriathlonBC: Race Calendar
Dietitians of Canada: Sports Nutrition

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