3-Month Triathlon Training Plan

2014 Apr | By

Preparing for your first triathlon

by Jarrod Shoemaker

So, you’ve decided to give triathlons a shot? Or maybe thinking about “tri”ing it out? Well, let me tell you that triathlons are not as crazy of an event as some people make them out to be. Whether you are coming from a single sport background in swimming, biking or running, or coming from another sport entirely, the key is becoming comfortable enough in all three sports.

The first step towards getting ready for your first triathlon is to pick a race! I would suggest starting with a small local sprint distance race, instead of a larger or longer race. By starting small you will be able to focus on enjoying the experience. I have seen many people pick longer distance races as their first races, not realizing the commitment they need to just complete an event like that. I would suggest a sprint distance race with legs under 750 meter swim, 13 mile bike and 4 mile run.

Another step is to join a local U.S. Masters Swimming team or buy a pool pass. I suggest to every triathlete to join a Masters team as both the structure and team atmosphere will motive you to swim often  you will enjoy your experience a lot more. The suit you should wear will depend on whether you signed up for a warm water or “wetsuit” triathlon. Make sure you know the difference. The race website will have that information. Some great suits for triathlon can be found here. And don’t forget a good pair of goggles for both training and race day.

A good pair of running shoes that you have used throughout your training and are comfortable with are also key. You can check out my Race Day Checklist here.

Finally, make sure you are fit correctly on your bike. You should head over to your local bike shop and get fit and make sure you bike is in working order; this will make you faster and also increase your comfort while training. You’ll also need proper cycling gear to try and minimize any soreness, blisters or otherwise. Really crucial.

And now onto the training plan. For a first race training plan I am going to keep this plan flexible, as I know that people have different time frames and different commitments throughout the week, so assigning a run to a specific day might not be possible or practical. The goal is to get the various workouts in during the week, spaced out enough so you don’t do them all in a row.

If you’re tired or lacking energy, push your planned workout back a day. Better to feel fresh and enjoy the pace of the workout.

Feel free to add in another session, but do not over do it. Have fun, enjoy the process and smile when you cross the finish line! Follow this loose schedule for 12 weeks and you should have the comfort level and base to complete your first triathlon. There’s nothing quite like that first experience!


For the swim workouts, mix it up as you feel, but here are a few suggested main sets:

Set 1: 4x100 with 20 seconds rest, 100 easy, 4x50 with 15 seconds rest
Set 2: 3x200 with 30 seconds rest, 3x50 with 15 seconds rest, 50 easy
Set 3: 2 sets of 3x100 with 15 seconds rest
Set 4: 4x150 with 20 seconds rest do the middle 50 faster
Set 5: 12x50 with 15 seconds rest, 8x25 alternate fast and easy with 15 seconds rest

*To do pickups correctly, allow full recovery between each one
*Effort is subjective, but try to get fast when you need to and slower when you don’t!
*If you are new to running feel free to run 5 minutes, walk 1, or start with 1/1 and build up to full running


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