12-Week Beginner - Olympic Triathlon Training Program

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12-Week Beginner - Olympic Triathlon Training Program


Dominique Stasulli


12 Weeks

Typical Week

2 Swim, 1 Run, 2 Bike, 1 Day Off, 1 Brick

Longest Workout

1:10 hrs swim
1:45 hrs bike
1:10 hrs run

Plan Specs

triathlon olympic beginner

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If you are brand new to the sport of triathlon and looking to "get your feet wet" with an Olympic distance experience or if you have tried a sprint 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 triathlon with 5-6 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 200 meters/yards continuously
--> Bike 30 minutes continuously
--> Have a safe, operating bicycle and helmet
--> Be injury-free
--> Be able to commit 3-7 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): Race Pace, Hard, Pushing, Threshold, RPE 8-9, 80-90% effort
- Zone 5 (Z5): Faster than Race Pace, Redline, Very Hard, RPE 9-10, 90-100% effort

*This plan would also be appropriate when easing back into the sport after an injury, or with the intention of slowing building back into the longer distance triathlons with a 12-week fitness revamp

If you have any questions at all about this plan or have interest in more personalized coaching, please email coach@athletebyscience.com


Training Load By Week
Average Weekly Breakdown
Average Weekly Training Hours: 05:32
Training Load By Week
Average Weekly Training Hours: 05:32
Average Weekly Breakdown

Sample Day 1

Easy Swim + Drills

WU: 100 easy choice stroke

Main Set:
8 x 25 build (build pace over 25m) (20s rest)
8 x 25 kick only (kickboard and fins) (20s rest)
8 x 25 alt. freestyle and breaststroke (20s rest)

CD: 100 easy choice stroke

Sample Day 2

Easy Run

Easy runs are done at a steady pace; it should be comfortable enough to hold a conversation. This is considered a Zone 1-2 run (60-75% of max HR) that is meant to build the aerobic system and flush the legs of fatigue. Have fun and enjoy the scenery!

Sample Day 3

Swim Steady: Short and Sweet

WU: 100 easy choice stroke
Main Set: 5 x 100 @ 75% (15s rest)
CD: 100 easy choice stroke

Sample Day 4

Easy Ride

This is an easy ride that should be done at a steady pace in Zone 1-2 (60-75% of your max HR) or at an RPE of 4-6. Pick a scenic route and/or bring a friend along for some easy conversational miles.

Sample Day 6

Saturday Brick

This is a Bike-to-Run brick workout. It's called a brick workout because your legs feel like bricks when you get off the bike and try to run. Bricks are a great time to practice your race transitions and getting a feel for the race demands on your body!

55 min total: 45 min bike (15min WU + 30 min steady Zone 2) --> 10 min tempo run (Zone 3, moderate)

Sample Day 7

Endurance Ride

This workout is for building your aerobic engine and increasing the limits of your endurance. Your goal is Zone 2 (65-75% of max HR), a steady, medium effort that is still comfortable. It's a great way to build your mental fitness too, just spending time putting the rubber to the road. Time to get comfortable in the saddle, it's gonna be a long ride.

Sample Day 8

Easy Swim + Drills

WU: 100 swim. 100 kick.

Main Set:
5 x 100 (done as 25 kick, 25 R arm only, 25 L arm only, 25 swim) - for the single arm exercises, you can hold a kickboard out in front with the other arm for stability if needed (20s rest)

8 x 50 alternate 50 bouy/50 kick w/ fins (20s rest)

CD: 100 easy swim

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