How to Train for a Triathlon

Rachel Rasmussen

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Triathlons have become very popular since their debut in 1974 when 46 people competed in the first triathlon in California. Today, around 2 million people participate in triathlons each year.

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If you want to join this growing community, here are some basic tips to remember when training for a triathlon.

SET UP A TRAINING PLAN

When to start training

  • 16 weeks if you are starting from scratch
  • 12 weeks in general for a spring triathlon (16 miles total)
  • 8 weeks if you’re very healthy, physically fit and familiar with each part of a triathlon (running, biking and swimming)

Establish a schedule

  • Organize it so there are a minimum of two sessions of each activity per week.
  • Include a brick session (bike and run or swim and bike sessions are completed back to back).
  • Include one to two open water swims per week that take place in a body of water other than a pool.
  • Gradually increase your distances, no more than 10% per week, and don’t increase them every week to give your body time to adapt.
  • Sudden exponential increases in distances can lead to injuries due to overuse.

Include resistance training

  • Build resistance training into your weekly workouts to enhance strength and mobility in the muscles primarily used during a triathlon.

Make sure to have rest days

  • Take off one or two days a week in order to give your body time to recover from training.
  • Try to schedule them right before or right after your brick workouts.

WHAT TO EAT AND DRINK

Make sure to consume the proper amount of carbohydrates and proteins within 30 minutes of completing your workouts.

FOOD

  • Eat more foods high in slow-burning carbohydrates (whole grains), fresh fruits and vegetables, and water.
  • Eat less processed foods, refined carbohydrates and saturated fats.
  • Make sure you’re eating enough calories to maintain your weight after shedding excess fat.
  • You may need to eat more calories during your training than before you started training.

DRINKS

  • During workouts: a quality sports drink with water, 6-8% carbohydrates, electrolytes and maybe some protein.
  • After working out: immediately drink a recovery sports drink that contains the same ingredients.

OVERALL TIPS FOR SWIMMING, BIKING AND RUNNING

Be sure to do research on the best equipment needed for each part of the race, and make sure that it is all fit to you.

You will want to find a coach or group you can train with to help you practice the correct techniques for swimming, biking and running. This will help you with efficiency and help minimize risk of injuries related to improper technique.

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This is a very basic guide to training, so it is very important to do your own research on the best way to train, the best equipment to use and the best techniques for each part of a triathlon.