If you’re new to the sport, 12 weeks gives you plenty of time to train for a sprint triathlon.

Here, MSTC Head Coach Neil Giles offers some training session ideas to get you ready for race day. You can download a PDF version at the bottom of the page.

Swim

Efficient movement through the water equals less effort and a faster swim. Work on a smooth, light kick to keep your body high up in the water and to help in the rotation of the freestyle stroke. 

Session to try:

  • After a warm-up, do a length doing front crawl kick only.
  • Have your arms outstretched (you can hold a pull buoy or a float).
  • At the end of the length, put the float or pull buoy between your legs if you're using one.
  • Swim back to the start.
  • Repeat this 2-length pattern 5-8 times.
  • Aim to take 15 seconds rest after each 2 lengths.

T1 (Transition 1)

Getting out of the pool and into T1 can be a bewildering experience. You’re transitioning from a horizontal position (swimming) to an upright position (running), so all the blood can drop from your head, making you feel light-headed and dizzy.

Session to try:

  • In your pool swims, practise hauling yourself out of the deep end.
  • Walk to the shallow end to resume swimming.
  • This helps build upper-body strength.
  • It also gets you used to the transition from horizontal to upright.
  • Aim for 5-6x per session.

Bike

Understand your pedal cadence (how quickly you turn the pedals). For a triathlon, it's good to have a fairly high cadence of 80-90 rpm. This gives a balance of power through the pedals without too much fatigue through the legs. Remember, you’ve got to do a run at the end of the bike!

Session to try:

  • On an indoor bike trainer (or when safe on the road), ride hard for 3 minutes in a medium to hard gear.
  • Aim to pedal at about 90rpm. Calculate this by counting revolutions on one leg for 15 seconds. Multiply this by 4 to give you an approximate rpm.
  • After the 3-min effort, do 3-min easy pedalling to recover.
  • Repeat this set (3-min hard, 3-min easy) 5 or 6 times in a session.
  • Make sure you are comfortable with the race distance bike leg. Aim to cycle this distance at least three times before race day.
  • It’s also good to do longer rides of 1.5-2x race distance to build cycling endurance.

 

T2 (Transition 2)

You head into transition 2 at the end of the bike leg: time to get your thoughts together as you finish the bike. Think through the transition process: dismount, rack your bike, helmet off, run shoes on, go! It's worth leaving an energy gel next to your shoes in case you're running on empty at the start of the run.

Session to try:

  • On a quiet road or driveway, practise running to your bike and picking it up.
  • Run with your bike for 10m before getting on and starting to pedal. Repeat 3-5 times.
  • Then do the reverse: cycle to a fixed point that represents the transition line.
  • Practise dismounting and running with the bike for 10m. Repeat 3-5 times.

Run

Running 5k after you’ve swum and cycled is tough. Your legs will feel as though they belong to somebody else! So training yourself to run off the bike is essential to  completing your triathlon well.

Session to try:

  • At least once a week, complete a ‘brick’ session by running straight after a bike session.
  • Start off by simply putting on your running shoes and running at an easy pace for 6-10 minutes (or 1-2km).
  • As you progress, try increasing your run pace and increasing how long you run for (you could try running the full 5k if you feel up to it).
  • You can mix things up by doing multiple bike and run chunks: for example, 10-minute bike into 6-minute run, repeated 3–4x.
  • This type of session is much easier if you have an indoor bike trainer.
  • Don’t forget to practise drinking while on the bike to stay hydrated.

Click to download a PDF version of these training tips