A record 517,150 triathletes finished a race in 2013 and the number of participants doesn't look like it will wane this year. "There are lots of reasons why," says Walter DeNino, a former member of the U.S. Triathlon Team and president of Trismarter.com, a triathlon coaching service. "But I think it's mainly because it's the perfect form of cross-training. You're working lots of different body parts and always switching up your training, so triathletes rarely get hurt.
Plus, what guy doesn't want to have a triathlete's body?" Even some of Hollywood's leading men, such as Matthew McConaughey have completed the swim-bike-run trifecta, and, thanks to the program that follows, you can, too. We employed DeNino to tell you how many miles to log and hours to train, and we asked two-time Ironman world champion Tim DeBoom and Olympian Matt Reed to share their secrets to winning. By the end of 12 weeks of training, you'll look better, feel fitter, and maybe even wind up with some hardware around your neck.
Weeks 1–3 (Foundation)
Join a master's swim class and make sure you get filmed. It's the only way to really see and correct flaws in your stroke and breathing. After three weeks you should be able to swim at least 1,000 yards without stopping. Tip: Practice with buddies. Open-water swimming is a contact sport.
Mon., Wed., Fri.
Warm up (10 percent of your total distance), then 600-750, 900-1,000, and 1,000-1,200 yds respectively at low intensity (65 percent of max heart rate – 220 minus your age), broken into intervals (20x50 yds with 20 secs rest or 10x100 yds with 30 secs rest).
Have your road bike properly fitted at a cycling shop to prevent lower back pain. By week three, be able to bike an hour at a brisk pace.
Tues.: 45 mins at moderate intensity (65–85 percent max heart rate). Sat.: 60 mins at low intensity.
Tues.: 55 mins at moderate intensity. Sat.: 70 mins at low intensity.
Tues.: 60 mins at moderate intensity. Sat.: 80 mins at low intensity.
Try running on your forefoot, striking with your toe first (not your heel), to help reduce the shock to your knees, ankles, and back. After three weeks, be able to run three miles easily.
Wed.: 20 mins at low intensity. Sun.: 25 mins at low intensity.
Wed.: 25 mins at low intensity (right after swim). Sun.: 35 mins at low intensity; 30 mins at moderate intensity.
Credit: Michael Dodge / Getty Images
Wed.: 30 mins at low intensity (right after swim). Sun.: Six striders (100 yd run on a soft, slightly downhill surface, gradually accelerating to a controlled sprint) with 20 sec rests between sets.