Triathlon Training Guide and Advice

There’s nothing more empowering, intense, and impressive than completing a triathlon, as it’s an endurance sport that requires you to push every muscle in your body to the limit. To achieve that, it’s important to work out and build up strength and stamina that can help you get across the finish line. Triathlons can seem daunting to a beginner because they combine multiple sports into one race. However, those who do triathlons usually say that it’s well worth the effort.

What Is a Triathlon?

A triathlon is a race that combines swimming, running, and bicycling. Each portion has its own unique set of challenges, and competitors must be highly skilled in all of them, although most competitors will have a favorite out of the three. Doing a triathlon means that you’ll need to find the right training regimen for all three sports, which will give you a full-body workout.

Triathlon Distances

Triathlons aren’t all exactly the same: The distances used in a triathlon can vary from one event to the next, which makes doing a triathlon an achievable goal for many people. For a beginner, it’s often best to start with a shorter triathlon; over time and with more training, you’ll be able to acclimate your body to doing all three exercises back to back and do longer events.

  • Sprint Distance (Beginner Triathlon): 750 m swim, 20 km biking, 5 km run
  • Olympic Triathlon: 1.5 km swim, 40 km biking, 10 km run
  • ITU Long: 3 km swim, 80 km biking, 20 km run
  • Half-Ironman: 1.9 km swim, 90 km biking, 21.1 km (half-marathon) run
  • Ironman: 3.8 km swim, 180 km biking, 42.2 km (full marathon) run

How to Train for a Triathlon

Training for a triathlon requires including running, swimming, and cycling in your training plan. You need to train on all of these equally because when you’re competing in a triathlon, you can’t afford to be weak in any area; if you are, you’ll fall too far behind and be eliminated from the race. Training for a triathlon requires a lot of time and effort, but it is manageable with a bit of planning and determination.

To start, you should give yourself at least 12 weeks before the planned event to prepare. During those 12 weeks, you should be training five days a week and devoting equal amounts of time to swimming, running, and bicycling. It can also be a good idea to add health supplements to your diet to help keep your body in good shape so you can get your workout in. While training, it can be beneficial to do shorter workout sessions during the week and longer ones on weekends. On weekdays, you only need to do about half an hour a day, which can make it easier if you’re pressed for time.

When you do a workout, rotate between the three different types of exercise to reduce the risk of injury. Swim twice a week, then alternate running and bicycling on your other three chosen workout days. And remember to take into account the requirements of the event you’re training for when you make your training plan. For instance, if the swimming portion takes place in the ocean, don’t limit yourself to swimming in a pool, and if the triathlon requires biking over hills, you should make an effort to train on inclines.

Giving yourself time is the most important part of training. If you’re a beginner, you should never sign up for a triathlon that’s only a few days away because you’re likely to push yourself too hard, which increases the risk that you’ll injure yourself. Starting earlier gives you the time you need to gradually build up your strength and endurance and give your body the rest it needs to recover between workouts.

What Do I Need?

While training for a triathlon, you don’t need a lot of expensive, high-tech equipment, but you will need to get some equipment.


  • A swimsuit or wetsuit
  • Goggles
  • A swim cap


  • A reliable bike. It doesn’t need to be professional-grade, but it should be light and fast.
  • A flat tire repair kit
  • A helmet
  • Cycling shoes
  • A water bottle


  • Running shoes

Other Helpful Things to Have

  • Anti-chafing balm
  • A transition bag to hold your gear
  • A race belt to hold your bib number

Additional Resources

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