Where Do I Start With Training For An Off-Road Sprint Tri?


I've signed up for an Off Road Sprint Tri in June next year but I'm not sure how to fit in the training around stuff I already do! I'm trying to get my base fitness up, I can't run for toffee and I find the whole idea of being "in training" daunting.

At present I do 3 x 45 min early morning classes at my gym (Spin, Body Pump & Body Combat), I have 1 x 30 min horse riding lesson a week and I take my dog to a 1 hour agility class once a week where I'm doing a lot of stop/start running.

I don't want to overdo it but where do I fit it in? Do I start training 6 months early or do I have to drop some of the things I already do in order to fit it in?

Out of the 3 disciplines, my running is non-existent and my cycling as an on-off mountain biker is the best.


Intelligent Triathlon Training Replies:


Yours is a dilemma that many novices will face. Triathlon is not your highest priority recreation, but you want to be able to do yourself justice, and go into the challenge event full of anticipation not dread!

You have two opposing choices, which you alluded to:

  1. Carry on life as normal until a couple of months out, then devote yourself to doing the necessary training, at the expense of other things in your life.

  2. Start early and slowly introduce more specific training into your schedule as you get closer.

Which you choose really depends upon the type of person you are and which you think will be the most successful for you. Both options can be successful.

One of the most important things to do now is find time to swim. You don’t say if this is an open water tri, but as its off-road I expect it is.

Swimming is technically more challenging than the other two disciplines and some good practice can help significantly. Consider joining a good swim club, or tri swim group. They will be able to give you loads of help and advice and they are usually a good motivator. Whichever option you do, try to find time for 2 sessions of ~ 30 minutes swimming a week as often as possible.

Option 1.
We have a short term training plan for sprint triathlon that you could look at for ideas. Use this as a guideline and tailor your plan to your strengths and weaknesses.

Option 2.
Take the short term plan and extend it to the duration until your race. Introduce the sessions into your week gradually over a period of time. Adding those two swims in your normal week would be good, as already mentioned.

Then add a short run - really steady, starting around 10 – 15 minutes duration. If this is a challenge, mix running and walking. So for example 2 minutes running followed by 2 minutes walking and so on, gradually reducing the amount you walk.

Cycling is usually the one most people can do if relatively fit, and as you say it’s a strength I would just ride your bike when you have time or feel like it.

As you get closer to the event you can move into a more structured plan and really top your fitness off.

Starting earlier means you don’t have to push too hard, so you can slowly build your fitness, which should make it more enjoyable, and you are less likely to get injured.

People find ‘being in training’ daunting because they put pressure on themselves. Either to succeed, to do better than a friend and so on. Elite athletes often fail because they put too much pressure upon themselves to succeed, ironic isn’t it?

Everyone’s pressure switch is different – what is excessive for one person is just right for another person.

The trick is to view it from a different perspective and find the right level of expectation for you. If being in training is daunting, consider it improving your health, or as many people do, for the love of being outdoors, or because its fun.

The end point that is the off-road sprint tri race is irrelevant. At the end of the day you decided to do this for a reason, hopefully you can have some fun along the way and learn something about yourself.

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