The Secrets of Triathlon Training

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Why do a triathlon?

It’s a very exciting event. Whenever I race, I still get a high from the challenge of going from swim to bike to run.

How do you get started?

Get a lightweight carbon bike, and learn how to ride it. Sounds simple, but it’s important to get comfortable in the saddle. The ride is probably the most difficult [of the three] to train for, and it’s certainly the hardest logistically because of all the gear you need. Two months should be sufficient time to train properly. Everything twice a week: run twice, swim twice, bike twice.

How do you train?

My weekly training looks something like this: 62 miles of running, 17 hours of cycling, 7.5 miles of swimming. If you’re just starting out, I recommend 20 miles of running, 12 hours of cycling, and 3 miles of swimming.

If you decide to ease into triathlons by just doing a marathon first, you should still do one swim and one bike a week to get in some cross-training and recovery. Interval training is really important, too, because if you only ever push your body 17%, only 17% of your muscles will adapt. So you have to push your muscles each week to adapt more. I don’t weight train—but I do a few range-of-motion exercises—because I find that I’m strongest when my training looks like the sports I’m competing in. And with each of these three sports, as soon as I start to do one thing more than another, the other sports drop off. So I really have to keep it balanced in my training.

Three triathlons to “tri”

  1. Pure Savage: Dubbed the most brutal competition by Triathlete, the Savage-Man 70.0 Triathlon (held in Maryland) challenges athletes to bike through 6,718′ elevation gains. And like Humpty Dumpty, they have great falls.
  2. Go easy with a Half Ironman: Calling any triathlon “easy” is just wrong, but the worldwide Half Ironman series is only 70.3 miles of multisport madness. Try any one of these starters before taking on the full Iron.
  3. Best Off Roader: XTERRA organizes off-road triathlons from Sardinia, Italy, to Utah. As the best of these beasts, the XTERRA European Tour Championship is designed specifically for the adrenaline junkie.

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