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 4–7 (Endurance and Technique)
Swim in a lake or ocean four times before the week-eight race to learn how to gauge currents and glare. Also, learn the breaststroke. The freestyle is fastest and most efficient, but the breaststroke is less physically demanding and lets you lift your head out of the water, making it easier to breathe if you're struggling. After week seven, be able to easily swim 1,500 yards.
Mon., Wed., Fri.: 1,400 yds, in intervals, at moderate intensity.
Mon., Fri.: 1,500 yds, in intervals, at moderate intensity. Wed.: 1,500 yds, in intervals, at low intensity.
Learn to ride rolling terrain and turn 180 degrees without clicking out of your pedals. Since race-day courses may include tight corners or turnaround points, try maneuvering around a traffic cone. Ride with friends to develop the ability to dart in and out of them. But don't draft: It isn't allowed in most triathlons.
Tues.: 60 mins at moderate intensity, then three 10-min sprints with two-min rests between sets (speed interval). Sat.: 75–90 mins at low intensity.
Tues.: 60 mins at moderate intensity; three speed intervals. Sat.: 105–120 mins at low intensity.
Practice your transition from bike to run by timing how long it takes to change gear – you should be able to do it in under a minute. Use Velcro cycling shoes and quick-tie running laces to speed up the process.
Wed.: 30 mins at low intensity. Sat.: 15 mins at low intensity (right after bike). Sun.: 40 mins at low intensity; 10 striders.
Wed.: 40 mins at low intensity. Sun.: 45 mins at low intensity; 10 striders.
Sat.: 30 mins at low intensity (right after bike). Sun.: 45 mins at low intensity; 10 striders.
Credit: Michael Dodge / Getty Images
Wed.: 40 mins atlow intensity. Sun.: 50–60 mins at low intensity; 12 striders.