BEGINNER or FIRST Olympic Distance Triathlon 8-Week Plan (Heart Rate and Pace Based)

Average Weekly Training Hours 04:57
Training Load By Week
Average Weekly Training Hours 04:57
Training Load By Week

Unique benefits of this plan (that few, if any, other plans have):
-Sessions categorised as A, B, and C sessions to help you decide which workout to skip if life gets in the way
-In addition to tips for the actual workouts, the plan contains tips on what your focus points should be on a weekly level, what the purpose of each week is, and tips on planning your race, how to stay healthy and injury-free, and more.
-Plenty of links and additional resources. Not sure how to sight in open water swimming? No problem, this plan links to the best instructional video on the topic, and the same goes for other topics like foam-rolling, etc.

This plan will help triathletes easily complete their first Olympic distance triathlon in 8 weeks of training. The structured and specific progression of the workouts in the plan will see to that. If you have done one or several sprint triathlons before and are looking to step up the distance, this is the perfect plan for you. You can even skip the sprint distance stage and jump right into an Olympic triathlon using this plan. Even if you have done Olympic distance tris before, but you tend to finish towards the back of the pack, this plan will help you get to the starting line both fitter and fresher than previously and move up the results lists.

The plan is simple and easy-to-follow. It is based on pace (for running) and heart rate (for cycling). You don't need any prior knowledge about structured training endurance sports to be able to follow it. Everything is clearly explained in the plan.

There is on average 5 hours of training per week, over 6 workouts. The lightest week is 4 hours, and the hardest has 6.25 hours of training.

This plan is also available as versions where RPE and/or heart rate only (bike and run) zones are used to determine intensity. See https://www.trainingpeaks.com/coach/mikael-eriksson.

Sample Day 1
0:35:00
41.2TSS
20-minute Time Trial - Establish Training Zones (HR)

Do the test on an indoor trainer or outside with no interruptions for traffic and ideally as flat as possible. Wear a heart rate monitor.

Warm-up
5 minutes easy spinning
3 x (30 seconds moderate to hard effort, 30 seconds easy)
2 minutes easy

20-minute Time Trial
Hit lap button on your watch and ride for 20 min as hard and fast as you can sustain. Don't go out too hard, but make sure that you've given it your 100% at the end of the test. After 20 min, hit the lap button again. Use manual lapping only on your watch (not automatic 1k laps or similar) so the entire time trial is in one single lap.

Cool-down
5-10 minutes very easy spin.

Sample Day 2
0:45:00
1300m
50TSS
CSS-test (Critical Swim Speed)

The CSS test involves two time trial swims - a 400m and a 200m. Before attempting these swims perform a thorough warmup that will get you ready for the time trial, but that won't make you too tired to perform the time trials optimally.

Warm-up
-300 very easy swim
-4 x 50 build / 20 sec

CSS-test
-Do the 400 m time trial
-Recover completely for 10-15 minutes with a fair bit of rest and a few laps of very easy swimming
-Do the 200 m time trial

Cool-down
-200m mixed strokes

Sample Day 3
0:35:00
41.8TSS
20 min Time Trial - Establish training zones (Pace and HR)

Use a flat course that you can repeat this test on at a later date. Wear your heart rate monitor.

Warm-up
5 minutes easy jogging
3 x (30 seconds moderate to hard effort, 30 seconds walk)
2 minutes easy jog

20 min Time Trial
Hit lap button on your watch and run for 20 minutes as fast as you can. Be careful not to go off too fast. After 20 minutes, hit the lap button again. Use manual lapping only on your watch so the entire time trial is in one single lap.

Cool down
Walk for 5-10 minutes.

Sample Day 5
0:30:00
1200m
25TSS
Foundational/Technical Swim

Note: do this workout based on time rather than distance. The planned distance is suggestive only, and the exact distance is not the priority here.

Warm-up set - 5 min
-4 x 50 m / 10 sec rest between intervals. Easy, technique-focused

Technique set - 15 min
Pick 2 drills that target your weaknesses from the list below.
-Repeat (25 m Drill 1, 25 m normal swim) for 5 min / 10-15 sec rest between intervals
-Repeat (25 m Drill 2, 25 m normal swim) for 5 min / 10-15 sec rest between intervals
-Repeat (25 m Drill 1 OR 2, 25 m normal swim) for 5 min / 10-15 sec rest between intervals

Endurance set - 10 min
-10 min continuous swim @ a steady but sustainable effort (e.g. CSS+8 sec / 100m, or RPE = 6-7 / 10). Focus on impeccable technique throughout.

MORE INFORMATION:

Warm-up
Focus on one or at most 2 aspects of your technique / swimming form throughout the warm-up (the warm-up is an additional technique set). Presence and focus will pay dividends! Choose the 1 or 2 aspects that are your biggest weaknesses (e.g. breathing, body position, rhythm)


Technique set
For each drill, know what the purpose of it is and what you want to achieve (e.g. practise better breathing, body position, etc). When you swim back in the "normal swim" segments, try to implement the technique you trained in the drill in your normal stroke.


Endurance set
Pace well! Swim at a steady, reasonably comfortable but not too slow, and constant pace. Don't go out too hard and fade. It's good if you have energy left to go faster towards the end.

DRILLS:
(In many of the drills, it may be appropriate to use tools like fins and snorkel if you have them)

All-purpose drills
-Swim with fins

Rhythm
-Catch-up: https://youtu.be/L2ZUMX0qQns

Body position
-Side kick https://youtu.be/3mBb2djmdv0
-6-1-6 https://youtu.be/3mBb2djmdv0
-6-3-6 https://youtu.be/HfXuRVVc_Ic

Stroke mechanics
-Scull #1 (front scull) https://youtu.be/f96EqH0mdc0
-Scull #2 (under shoulders scull) https://youtu.be/_2Fezx3ZnD0
-Single-arm https://youtu.be/MhD3S1mJPTM
-Doggy paddle https://youtu.be/PqwN2l_HWrc

Breathing
-As you swim, repeat the phrase “Breath, bubble, breathe, bubble to yourself”. Say “breathe” as you rotate to take a breath and “bubble” as you turn your face back into the water and you should be starting to exhale. Literally say “bubble” out loud in the water as you’re exhaling - this will make you blow out air into the water as you should.

Sample Day 6
1:10:00
46.7TSS
Endurance ride

Easy endurance ride in Z2.

Sample Day 7
0:40:00
50.4TSS
Endurance run

Easy endurance run in Z2.

Sample Day 9
0:45:00
1900m
60TSS
Swim Speed 20 x (25! + 25~)

Note: do this workout based on time rather than distance. The planned distance is suggestive only, and the exact distance is not the priority here.

Warm-up set - 15 min
-5 minutes very easy swimming with fins (focus on technique) / 20 sec rest
-5 minutes with pull buoy and paddles. Snorkel optional but recommended Focus on feeling your back muscles activate during your stroke / 20 sec rest
-5 minutes "build", gradual progression of pace from easy through moderate to moderate plus or hard minus. No equipment. / 60 sec rest

Speed set - 30 min
-5 x 50 meters as (25 m all out sprint, 25 very easy) / 20 sec rest
-100 m very easy recovery swimming
-5 x 50 meters as (25 m all out sprint, 25 very easy) / 15 sec rest
-100 m very easy recovery swimming
-5 x 50 meters as (25 m all out sprint, 25 very easy) / 10 sec rest
-100 m very easy recovery swimming
-5 x 50 meters as (25 m all out sprint, 25 very easy) / 10 sec rest

MORE INFORMATION
Warm-up
The purpose of today's warm-up is to work on aspects of technique (1st and 2nd segment), and get you ready for the fast swimming to follow (3rd segment).

-“Builds” are gradual accelerations where you start an interval slowly, but then increase your pace throughout the interval and end it fast. You can split the build into four quarters: slow, moderate minus, moderate plus, fast.

Speed set
While it is important that you give a 100% effort in these sprints, pace yourself a little bit, because 20 sprints is quite a lot. Don't leave yourself completely wasted from the first sprint. Also, don't forget about technique. Your aim is to swim these sprints as FAST as possible, not waste as much energy as possible just to feel your muscles burn.

Mikael Eriksson - Founder of Scientific Triathlon, Podcaster at That Triathlon Show
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Scientific Triathlon

With all the athletes I coach, I have three goals:

-Improve the athlete's performance
-Increase the motivation and enjoyment the athlete gets from the sport
-Provide 100% personalized feedback, mentoring and support. Essentially, teach my athletes to be able to self-coach, should they so desire.

I have coached complete beginners to finish their first sprint and Olympic triathlons, and helped intermediate/advanced athletes qualify for World Championships and reach age group wins and podiums.