Optimum triathlon training requires careful planning.
My intention is not to set up a triathlon training program for you. There are plenty of great coaches who are more qualified to do that for you.
Instead I would just like to suggest a few guidelines that may make your preparation for your first Ironman or triathlon a bit easier.
As a rule, your training-week will most likely total anywhere from 12-16 hours.
How you set up your training will depend in large part on which of the disciplines you may already be quite skilled at and which need a lot of work.
It also depends if you decide to incorporate other elements into your training like weights or yoga for instance.
If you are new to triathlon it would seem to make sense to concentrate on learning all you can about swimming, biking, and running and how to make the transition from one discipline to the other and add other components to your training at a later date.
Most people only have a limited amount of time to spend on training and it’s best to spend that time learning all you can about proper technique in swimming and biking as this will be a major key to your enjoyment and success in triathlon.
If you are not a swimmer, then I would suggest at least 4 days of swimming per week be included in your triathlon training until you become more comfortable in the water.
It will pay you HUGE dividends if you have a smooth, energy saving stroke come race-day. If you are a runner, you would probably get by with 3 running days a week and spend more time on the other elements.
A normal training training week might consist of 4 swims, 3 runs, and 3 bike sessions. Whenever possible try and do two disciplines per day. With the exception of the days when you do long bikes or runs of two hours or more.
In that case only do the one discipline. As you gain more experience and get in better shape you will be able to add another workout to a long bike or run.
Early on in your training year you should have at least 2 days of full rest and perhaps even 3. Or as an alternative, have 2 full rest days and a “very easy” day of training. This is sometimes referred to as “active rest”.
Perhaps a swim workout that focuses on working on your technique might be a good active rest day. You can use your rest days for a visit to the chiropractor, massage therapy, spend with friends or family, or just to relax and maybe do some visualization about your upcoming race.
Be sure to have your rest day the “day before” you have a long bike or run planned. Also make sure the day after is an easier day or perhaps another rest day.
Its really important to get used to the bike-run transition. So I would suggest that once a week for sure you bike at least an hour(exercise bike or wind-trainer is fine)followed within 3-4 minutes at the most by a run of at least 30 minutes.
This will give you a good idea how the different muscles react to that transition. This is a very key part of your training-week.
There will be times when you just feel totally worn out after weeks of steady training. When that happens take a full weekend off and do nothing at all connected with your Ironman training. When Monday arrives you’ll be all set to get back at it.
Every four or five weeks it would also be a good idea to just have an easy week. Maybe do just one maintenance work-out per day for 5 days, have your full two days off and then go back to your regular training program.
Often potential Ironmen forget how important rest is. Its a vital component of your preparation. Training 25 days straight without let-up will not guarantee a successful race. I know, I’ve tried it. If anything it could lead to injury.
If anything out of the ordinary starts to hurt and its a pain you’ve never felt before—stop what you’re doing!! Rest it and then try again.
For instance, if you feel something in your knee while running that could potentially be an injury surfacing, don’t keep running on it. Perhaps swim for a few days–because its non-impact,give your knee a rest, then try a short run and see what happens. This is a smart approach to triathlon training.
If it feels fine, then don’t worry about it. Just monitor it for the next few runs. If it persists, have it checked out.
Its important to keep your triathlon training week as consistent as possible, but not when it might lead to serious injury. Just take a step back and look after it before you carry on with your program.
Early in my career, I was injured several times because I insisted on training through pain and made a bad situation worse. Don’t fall into that trap.
If you work out a training training plan that fits your lifestyle, watch your diet, use proper fluid and food replacements while training, and have proper rest, you will be well on your way to enjoying a long, successful triathlon career.
For more information on being a more successful triathlete or Ironman be sure to have a look at the books I have written that have helped many triathletes around the world realize their Ironman and triathlon dreams and goals.
You can visit my ironstruck book store and find the perfect book for the new or experienced triathlete doing their very first try a tri triathlon or the Ironman.