Monday, May 02, 2011

Eight Weeks To Your First Triathlon: Training Plan

Are you ready to do your first triathlon, but unsure of how to train for it?  Think it will take you all year to get ready? Think again! In just eight weeks you could be toeing the line for your first race.

In conjunction with the Iron Girl triathlon series, and Julie of the Chubby Mommy Running Club, I am putting on a Triathlon Clinic this weekend to get women ready to do their first Sprint distance triathlon at the Iron Girl race in Portland. As part of that clinic, I've developed an eight week training plan to get you ready for your first race. Once a week, I'll be posting the week's plan here, along with tips and hints. There will be some give-aways as well, so stay tuned!

There are very few things you need in order to participate in this plan. They are:

1. A pair of running shoes
2. A bicycle & helmet
3. A swimsuit and access to a body of water
4. The ability to swim at least a few laps (if you're starting as a non-swimmer, you'll need to go get some good swim instruction before beginning this plan)
5. A notebook to record your workouts and times
6. Good health: as always, it's a good idea to check with your doctor before beginning any plan of exercise, especially if its new to you.

That's it! The workouts in this plan can be done in any order, though I think it's a good idea not to do the same exercise back to back, especially running. So try to alternate activities as much as possible.

The short, printable table format version of the workout is in a Google Doc here:
8 Weeks to Your First Triathlon: table format. (stick this one on your fridge)

The long version with more explanation is here:
8 Weeks to Your First Triathlon! (read for all the details!)

Here's the first two weeks:


DAY 1: BIKE: 6 miles

If you're like many people, you may need to dust off your wheels first! Air up your tires, check your brakes, and make sure your helmet is adjusted properly. If you need to know how far 6 miles is, use and map out a route for yourself. Ride 6 miles at a comfortable pace. If you're unused to riding this far, you may feel some "saddle discomfort", or as we triathletes like to call it "bike butt". This too shall pass.

DAY 2: SWIM: 5 x 100 yards

10 Minute warmup, then:

Today we're going to do a Timed 100 yards (or meters). In most lap pools, that's four lengths of the pool. In some larger 50 meter pools, it will be two lengths, and in some shorter health club pools, it will be five lengths. If you're unsure, ask your lifeguard how long your lap pool is.

Look at the clock (most lap pools will have a pacing clock) or your watch. Swim 100 yards (or meters) at your medium pace (something you think you could sustain for a longer distance). Look at the clock when you're done. This is your pace per 100 yards.

Now we're going to swim a set of four more 100 yards/meters. We write this in a swim workout like this:

4 x 100

After each 100, rest exactly 60 seconds. Keep track of your pace for each 100 and see if they get slower or faster. Write down your paces when you're done.

Cool down with 10 minutes of easy swimming. You're done!

DAY 3: RUN 2 x 800 Meters 

Run or run/walk 10 minutes at an easy pace. I like to stop here and do some joint rotations to warm up my knees, hips, and ankles.

Now we're going to run two half miles with a minute rest in between. You can do these at a track, if you have access to a local school track, or you can use to map out a little half mile course for yourself in your neighborhood.

Run half a mile (800 meters or twice around a track). Rest one minute. Run another half a mile (800 meters).

Cool down with a 10 minute run/walk, and that's it. If you want to keep track of your pace as you progress, write down how long each 800 meter (half mile) took you. If you need to walk, don't worry. Just keep moving and you'll be fine. Remember, there's no rule against walking in a triathlon, and many athletes do it.

DAY 4: BIKE 6 Miles
Same as Day 1 of biking.

DAY 5: SWIM 2 x 150 + 2 x 100

10 minute warm up

Swim 150 yards/meters (6 lengths of most pools) at your medium pace. Rest :60 seconds. Swim another 150
Rest 2 minutes.

We write this as: 2 x 150, r: 60

Then swim 100 yards/meters (4 lengths), rest :45 seconds, swim 100 meters, rest :45 seconds, swim 100 meters.

We write this as 3 x 100, r: 45

10 minute cool down.

DAY 6: RUN 1 Mile

Warm up  with 10 minutes of running or run/walk, do joint rotations

Run: 1 mile, or 4 laps at a track

Cool down with 10 minutes of running/walking


Do not underestimate the importance of REST! Taking a day off every week is crucial to your training as the swimming, biking, and running.

That's it. You are now one week closer to your goal!


Annette@(running)In the Right Direction said...

I love this!Thanks so much for sharing I have my first tri in July so perfect timing!!

Kristin said...

great first week for newbies!! we are creating a Iron Girl Training plan here as well!!

Angi Herbison said...

Love this!!!! The swimming is going to be very hard for me. I'm eyeing a tri in August and THANK GOODNESS the swim portion is in a pool!

dawn h-s said...

I'm going to start this in two weeks (when our pool reopens). I've slacked this winter. I'm starting a new chemo thing next week, so this will be my motivation. Thanks for this.

Robin said...

Great, I'm happy the plan is useful. I welcome any feedback or questions as people start using it to train. I'll post a new installment each week.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing this plan. I'm training for this Portland Iron Girl as we speak and it will be my first tri ever. Trying out something new after cancer treatment so that I can feel strong and put that behind me. Looking forward to the new installments!

Robin said...

Awesome! Make sure you enter the contest to win a free race entry!

Laurel said...

You mentioned leaving suggestions the other day... could you put together a list of things to have on race day? I tried to take as many notes as I could and have a list of things to get (gear bag/bucket, bright colored beach towel, Glide, etc) but I'm worried I'll forget something important. Also, I'd love to hear your advice about day before and day of nutrition for sprint and olympic distance events. thanks!

Robin said...

Great ideas Laurel. I already have a checklist (I meant to print it and bring it to the Clinic, but my printer ran out of ink). I will link it later today in my training plan post. And I'll definitely talk about nutrition. Great topic!

scarlet reynolds said...

I came across your blog while looking for triathlon training blogs. Anyway, waking up in the morning to work-out is so hard! But I have found that lists/charts/plans help me to stay on track. I joked with my husband that I was going to get gold stars to place on top of completed work-outs on my training plan. I just might do it!

Team Holloway said...

Robin, I just completed my first triathlon (Douglasville Last Chance Tri) on Sunday, thanks to the plan you outlined. I'd always been fairly in shape, but I had my twins in Dec 09, and then my 3rd baby on June 26. I got HORRIBLY out of shape and overweight after the twins were born and my self esteem plummeted. I found your plan when my youngest was 5.5 weeks old, and began following it when she turned 7 weeks. I NEVER thought I could do something like complete a triathlon, but I DID IT! I didn't give up, and I didn't finish last, either! (Yay!)
Thank you thank you thank you so much for posting this plan. Without it, I never would've done a tri, and would've never proven to myself that an overweight, out of shape mommy of 3 could do something she never in a million years thought would be possible.
Believe me when I say that you have changed my life!
God bless you! :)

Robin said...

WOW! That is such an inspiring story. Thanks for sharing it here. I am SO IMPRESSED that you started training and did a triathlon with such a young baby. That is awesome!!! If you feel like it, could you write a guest post for the blog about your experience training and racing? This is *exactly* the kind of story that will inspire moms everywhere that they can do it too. You can email me at jump4joy19 at gmail dot com.


greydawn said...

Thanks going for it first sprint Tri this June!

Matthew said...

The triathlon coach should take these words to heart and examine their business model to determine whether they are doing everything possible to get the best results for the athlete, and the triathlete should give serious thought as to whether the money being spent on a triathlon coach is getting them everything they need...or just a plan in a can.

training for a triathlon