› Sprint Programme For Beginners

NEW Triathlon Swim School in Ashby starting January 2017

Sprint Triathlon Training
For
Beginner Triathletes

Here we give you an 8 week sprint triathlon training programme for beginner triathletes.

For an advanced sprint triathlon programme visit this page

Before you get started, have a read of our introduction to triathlon training for beginners, and our guide to planning your training.

Whilst you can just use the sprint triathlon training programme below, if you read these two pages, as well as our swim, bike and run training pages we hope you will have enough of an understanding about what is involved to be able to tailor this training plan to suit your specific needs.

You can become the master coach and come up with the best sprint triathlon training plan for you through using our principles and examples of triathlon training programs.

triathlon runnin

We suggest you write down your goals as well as your sprint triathlon training plan. You can use our training planner to help you do this, and to log your training.

Remember if you have any questions about your sprint triathlon training you can just ask us.

Don’t feel that you need to stick to your sprint triathlon training program religiously. Listen to your body and make good calls on your training based upon up to the minute information (only you know how you feel at any given moment!).

One of the principles of training is variability. You need to be motivated and interested in what you are doing. Fancy a change of session and have friends who are doing something similar? Well slot in with them, just remember why you are doing the session and that will help you to get the most from it.

Welcome to the world of sprint triathlon training!


8 week Sprint Triathlon Training Program for Beginner Triathletes

Remember this is a sample programme and you can adjust this if necessary to suit your own needs. This would suit someone who is moderately fit in general, has some experience of training, but not in a structured or focussed manner.

Aims: To build endurance and increase sustainable pace across all three disciplines.


Weeks 1 – 3

Aims: To introduce structured endurance training to increase the amount of training you can sustain on a regular basis.

Swim:

Try to swim 2 - 3 times per week. Swimming is about practice as much as training and you need regular practice to learn and refine your technical skills. If you are new to swimming we suggest you get some coaching as good swim technique will make all the difference to your swim performance.

All of the sessions in the early stages of this program are kept to short intervals to allow you to maintain good technique at a good speed.

S1. Basic Swimming Endurance
Warm up:
  • 100m swim
  • 50m back stroke
  • 4 x 25m kick, 20 seconds rest after each
Session:
  • 10 x 25m, 20 seconds rest after each. Maintain a consistent time. This should be comfortable for the first few reps. After this you should still be hitting the same time but having to try a little harder.
  • 50m back stroke
  • 50m breast stroke
  • As you become comfortable with the distance challenge yourself to keep adding reps. When you can do 20 x 25m move on to doing 10 x 25m followed by 5 x 50m. Then reduce the number of 25m reps and increase the number of 50m reps. Eventually you will just do 50m reps. If you are a better swimmer you can start including 50m reps straight away.
S2. Sprints
  • To help you with swimming fitness and strength include a sprint session.
Warm-up:
  • 100 - 200m swim
  • 25 or 50m x 2 breast stroke and back stroke; 20 seconds rest between reps
  • 4 - 8 x 25 kick, alternating 1 rep easy, 1 rep hard
  • 6 x 25m with 6 - 8 strokes hard at the beginning then easy for the rest of the distance; 30 seconds rest between reps
Session
  • 6 - 12 x 25m hard; 40 - 60 seconds rest between reps
  • 3 - 5 minutes rest with some easy swimming
  • 6 - 12 x 25m hard; 40 - 60 seconds rest between reps. Try to maintain your time throughout the reps, but don't worry if it drops off a little.
S3. Long Easy Session
Swim for 400 - 700m continuously, or longer if you still feel comfortable at 700m (up to a maximum of 1,200m). This is the least important session of the week and the easiest. Just swim nice and steady. You can use a pull buoy to help maintain a streamlined position. You can kick whilst using it.

Bike:

The best place to train is outside on the roads. Turbos and other static trainers are good tools but even the best don’t replicate real riding.

Try to include 2 – 3 rides per week, all of which are generally steady as you build the basic endurance required to perform the bike section.

B1. Extensive Endurance Ride
  • 50 – 80 minutes long. Duration depends a lot about how experienced you are and how much time you have available.
  • This should be generally a controlled, comfortable pace.
B2. Slightly Shorter Ride, Including Hard Efforts
  • Efforts should be around 3 – 5 minutes.
  • Use the natural terrain to help you get a feel for hills and headwinds. Once you start the efforts try to maintain an even pace and get a feel for controlled hard endurance.
B3. LT1 Builder
  • A short session that could be done on an indoor trainer if time is tight.
  • This session uses intervals to help build up your first Lactate Threshold.
  • Start with 2 – 3 min at an uncomfortably comfortable intensity, then 6 – 9 min at a steady pace, repeated 4 – 6 times.

Run:

Unless you are an experienced runner this is the discipline most people need to be very careful in to avoid injuries.

Try to include 2 – 3 runs per week. Begin at a very comfortable pace and duration and gradually building up the volume, no more than ~ 10 - 15% increase per week.

R1. Extensive Endurance runs x 2
  • These are the long steady runs that begin to build your endurance.
  • Depending upon experience they should be 10 – 50 minutes in duration.
  • For total novice runners, start with 10 – 15-m per session. You may even want to start with jog for 5 min walk for 2 min.
  • For more experienced runners, remember that you are doing more overall training so what you have done as a runner may become quite tiring with the cycling and swimming you will be doing.
R2. Fartlek Running
  • This is unstructured speed play.
  • At this stage in the programme think to include some short periods in a steady run where you build up the speed before returning to your steady pace. This can include some hills as well.
  • Depending upon experience duration should be around 20 – 40 minutes.
  • Not for complete novices.

Weeks 4 – 6

Aims:

To develop the sessions you have currently performed and to begin to build some slightly more specific fitness.

Swim:

Still keeping to three sessions a week. You should begin to build up the amount of swimming that you do at around your race pace.

S4. Under & Over
Warm-up as previous sessions
  • 6 - 10 x 25m
  • 4 - 6 x 50m
  • For all of the above do 1 rep at sprint pace as per the sprint session in weeks 1 -3, 15 seconds rest and then 2 reps at an easy/steady pace, also with 15 seconds rest between reps
  • The idea is to challenge your ability to recover from high intensity efforts. Races often include sections where you accelerate or work a little harder and you need to be able to recover quickly from this.
S5. Basic Endurance
As per weeks 1 - 3 but try to do more reps.
S6. Long Easy Swim
  • Aim to increase the distance you can swim compared to weeks 1 - 3.
  • Again you can use a pull buoy for some or all of the session to help with body position - in other words help keep your legs up. However try to gradually reduce your use.
  • Try to swim until you no longer feel as smooth in the water. Then rest and repeat to get the full distance in. Ideally you will be moving towards full race distance by the end of this block of training, if not further.


Bike:

Continuing to develop your endurance so that when you get off the bike in your race you are not too fatigued.

B4. Extensive Endurance
  • As weeks 1 – 3 but building a little more duration onto the ride.
  • Remember don’t go too hard in this session. It is about getting time in the saddle and building basic endurance fitness.
B5. Intermediate Endurance
  • After warm up, ~ 20 – 45 minutes.
  • This develops Session 2 from weeks 1 – 3 into a more continuous mid level endurance session. This is likely to be the sort of intensity you should be aiming for in your race, so accumulating time at this intensity is vital.
B6. Lactate Threshold 2
  • This session is a quick, hard session. Many people like to do this on an indoor trainer.
  • For beginners the duration of the intervals can be quite short (3 – 4 min) building up as experience and fitness builds.
  • Remember to use a 2:1 work to recovery ratio, and that the rest needs to be really easy.
  • Aim for 4 – 5 reps.


Run:

R1. 2 x Extensive Endurance
  • Increase duration on weeks 1 – 3 by max of 5 minutes per week.
  • Should be aiming to increase duration of run to exceed expected run duration by at least 50%. Eg 30 minute expected race time would mean aiming for a 45 minute extensive endurance run session.
R3. Introduction To Intermediate Endurance
  • At comfortably uncomfortable pace, probably a little fast than extensive endurance pace.
  • Not continuous. Total duration of run should be less than extensive endurance run.
  • Amount of intermediate endurance shouldn’t make up more than 50% of the session.
  • 20 – 40 minutes total duration.
  • Warm up, 5 minutes at intermediate endurance pace, 2 – 3 minutes easy. Aim to add 1 or 2 reps by the end of week 6.
  • Total duration should be longer than expected race time for run section by end of week 6.

Weeks 7 & 8

You are now entering the final 2 weeks of your sprint triathlon training plan and you can really begin to think about the race. If you haven’t already been thinking about transitions then now is the time, early in week 7.

Have a look at our page about tackling triathlon transitions and start practicing these skills ready for race day.

You can do more harm to your performance in the next 2 weeks than you can do good, so try not to over cook it by cramming in more training.

Decide, depending on strengths and weaknesses which sessions to miss to allow yourself time to recover during week 7 and 8. Your priority should be to work on your weaknesses. Take enough rest so that training is feeling easier and that you feel fresh each day.

Swim:

2 sessions per week
  • Keep these short but with some intensity. The idea is not to train, but rather to recover from the training you have done whilst keeping your feeling for swimming and continue practicing technique.
Session 1
  • 1 x 200m steady, 60 seconds rest between reps
  • 1 x 150m steady, 60 seconds rest between reps
  • 2 x 100m, first rep steady, second rep hard, 30 seconds rest between reps
  • 3 x 50m hard, 60 seconds rest between reps
Session 2 Warm up as before, or feel free to create your own with things you enjoy.
  • 6 x 25m hard; 40 seconds rest between reps
  • 50m easy
  • 4 x 50m race pace, 60 seconds rest between reps
  • 100m easy
  • 2 x 100m race pace, 60 seconds rest between reps


Bike:

Week 7
  • Same as weeks 4 – 6.
Week 8
  • Still 3 sessions per week, but reduce the duration of rides 1 and 2 to 30% of what you did previously.
  • For session 3 (B6.) reduce the number of reps down to 1 – 2.


Run:

R1. 1 x Extensive Endurance Run
  • Same pace, but reduce duration so that you don’t feel tired - should finish well within your comfort zone.
R3. 1 x Intermediate Endurance Run
  • Don’t increase volume. The session should start to feel easier.
R4. 1 x Recovery Run
  • A short, easy run – about half the duration of your extensive endurance run.

Putting Your Sprint Triathlon Training Week Together

Below is an example of how to fit the above sprint triathlon training sessions into a week. You can shuffle training round to suit your own schedule.

Principles for successful sprint triathlon training are:

  • Don’t do two hard sessions on the same day
  • You can do two easier sessions or one hard and one easier session on the same day.
  • Try to have a good 5 - 6 hours between training sessions and ensure that you enhance your recovery through nutrition and other techniques

  • Don’t train the same discipline on consecutive days.
  • Have one full day off per week for rest within your sprint triathlon training schedule. If you feel very tired you can miss a session. You don’t have to then catch up with it on your day of designated rest. You have to listen to your body. Obviously training will make you feel fatigued but if you are struggling to maintain the quality of sessions then you need to rest.
  • If time permits and/or you feel that you are an injury risk in this 8-week block you should try to include some basic conditioning exercises. These can be included around the sessions in the discipline you performing. For example, some basic drills/exercises before and after a run.

Example Sprint Triathlon Training Schedule

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
Weeks 1 - 3

S1, R1

B2

S2

R2, B3

S3

B1, R1

Weeks 4 – 6

S4, R1

B5

S5

B6, R1

S6

B4, R3

Weeks 7 - 8

S4, R1

B5

S5

B6, R4

S6

B4, R3

Good luck with your sprint triathlon training!

And don't forget to prepare for race day.

Read our page on what to expect and how to prepare for a triathlon race and download a copy of our triathlon checklist to make sure you don't forget anything on the day.

Remember if you have any questions about your sprint triathlon training you can just ask us.


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