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12-Week Beginner - Long Course Triathlon, Full-Distance Training Program


Dominique Stasulli

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12 Weeks

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Plan Description

If you are brand new to the sport of triathlon and looking to "get your feet wet" with the full long-distance experience (bold move!) or if you have tried shorter distances and would like to move on up, then this plan is for you*! This 12-week program focuses on preparing you for the demands of a long-course triathlon with 6 days a week of swim, bike, and run workouts to get you race ready. The plan is broken up into three phases: 4 weeks of general skill and endurance, 4 weeks of strength and speed, and then 4 weeks of race-specific work.

[Pre-requisites] Before beginning this program you should be able to:
--> Swim 600 meters/yards continuously
--> Bike 60 minutes continuously
--> Have a safe, operating bicycle and helmet
--> Be injury-free
--> Be able to commit 5-16 hours a week to training

[Recommended Pre-requisites] Consider the following also:
--> Find a swim coach to teach you proper stroke technique
--> Look up your local Masters' swim programs for good options!
--> Get your bicycle tuned up at a local triathlon or bike shop
--> If your bike feels uncomfortable, get a fitting from a certified bit fit expert!
--> A good pair of cycling (padded) shorts will be your saving grace
--> Treat yourself to a new pair of running shoes
--> A local running store can help you find the right fit for your feet
--> Running in old, worn-out shoes is an easy way to get injured
--> Keep yourself strong and healthy with mobility and/or light strength training

Some key information regarding the plan:
1. WU = warmup; CD = cooldown
2. The units for the swim are in yards, but swimming in a 25-meter pool is great too
3. Unless otherwise specified, the default swim stroke is freestyle
4. If you have access, it's great to practice swimming in an open water setting a few times before racing
5. Rides and runs can be done indoors or out, but outdoors is recommended to prepare for the elements
6. The phrase 'out of the saddle' means standing up on your bike pedals (usually intended for speed pickups)
7. The runs can always be substituted with walking for individuals who are not cleared/ready to run
8. The terminology for many of the workouts revolves around "Zone Training" [if you know your max heart rate (HR)] and/or "Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE)" [perceived effort on a scale of 1-10] ... which is described more thoroughly here:
- Zone 1 (Z1): Recovery, Very Easy, RPE 1-4, 40-60% effort
- Zone 2 (Z2): Steady, Aerobic, Comfortable, RPE 4-7, 60-70% effort
- Zone 3 (Z3): Tempo, Comfortably Hard, RPE 7-8, 70-80% effort
- Zone 4 (Z4): Hard, Pushing, Threshold, RPE 8-9, 80-90% effort
- Zone 5 (Z5): Redline, Very Hard, RPE 9-10, 90-100% effort

*This plan would also be appropriate when easing back into the sport after an injury

If you have any questions at all about this plan or have interest in more personalized coaching, please email

Training Plan Sample Week


Average Weekly Breakdown

Workouts Weekly Average Longest Workout
Run x2
1:55 hrs 2:30 hrs
Bike x2
2:56 hrs 4:00 hrs
Swim x2
2:33 hrs 1:50 hrs
Day Off x1
—— ——
Brick x1
3:02 hrs 6:05 hrs
Workouts Per Week Weekly Average Longest Workout
1:55 hrs 2:30 hrs
2:56 hrs 4:00 hrs
2:33 hrs 1:50 hrs
Day Off
—— ——
3:02 hrs 6:05 hrs

Training Load By Week

This plan works best with the following fitness devices:

  • GPS

All supported devices

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