Your First Triathlon (Sprint/Experienced Runner)

This simple and easy-to-follow, 12-week plan is intended for an EXPERIENCED RUNNER training for his/her first sprint-distance triathlon (about S-400/B-13miles/R-5k) who has little or no background in swimming or biking. The run workouts are more advanced than for the beginner-no-experience plan. It includes one daily workout with optional workouts you can also do if you have time. The plan is based on Joe Friel's book, Your First Triathlon.

Sample Day 1
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Strength: OPTIONAL: Strength Workout #1: AA Phase. The purpose of the AA phase is to perfect the exercise movements while building general body strength. Warm up by spinning on a stationary bike for 5 minutes. Then with a 30RM load (a weight you could only lift about 30 times), do 3 sets of 20 reps each (it will feel easy) of the following exercises: A. leg press, B. seated row, C. chest press, D. heel raise or knee extension or leg curl (choose one of these 3 based on your personal weakness—calf, knees, hamstrings), E. abdominal curl with twist, F. standing, bent-arm, lat pull down. Complete all 3 sets before advancing to the next exercise. Focus on doing each exercise with perfect form. Form is more important than weight loads in this phase. Cool down by riding a stationary bike for 5 minutes with a high cadence and a low resistance.

Sample Day 1
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Take today off from exercise and rest.

Sample Day 2
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Swim Workout #1. This is a 10-minute swim. Swim 1 length of the pool concentrating on your swim stroke mechanics. The effort should be low (zone 1-2). Stop and rest at the wall for 30-45 seconds. Then swim back to the other wall and rest again. Continue this for 10 minutes.

Sample Day 2
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OPTIONAL:Run Workout #9. This is a workout for an experienced runner. Run 30-45 minutes building from zone 1 to zone 2 while concentrating on good form with a high cadence (at least 28 right footstrikes in 20 seconds).

Sample Day 3
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Bike Workout #1. This is a 20-minute ride and is best done on a mostly flat course or on an indoor trainer. Gradually increase the intensity from 1 to 2 as you warm up. Stay mostly in zone 2 throughout the remainder of the ride. Concentrate on your pedaling cadence (count every time your right foot goes down for 1 minute). If on a flat stretch of road it is below 90 rpm, shift to a lower (easier) gear. On the road, every time you come to a small hill or head wind shift to a lower (easier) gear to maintain 90 rpm. Shift to a higher (harder) gear on downhills. If on an indoor trainer, play with the gears shifting frequently noticing how your cadence changes when you do. Cool down in zone 1 for 5 minutes.

Sample Day 4
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Run Workout #8. This is about a 20-minute “strides” workout and is best done on a flat, soft surface such as gravel, grass, dirt or on a track. Parks are excellent for this workout. Do not do this workout on concrete and asphalt. Warm up by alternating 1 minute of running easily in zone 1 with 1 minute of running in zone 2 for a total of 7 minutes (the experienced runner can run for 15-20 minutes building from zone 1 to 2). Then on a flat or very slightly downhill course which is approximately 100 yards long, run 20 seconds in zone 4. Note that these are not zone 5 (all-out effort). Hold back and concentrate on running form, not speed. Count each time your right foot touches the ground for this 20 seconds. The number should be at least 29. Turn around and walk back to your starting point. Do 4-6 of these strides. If you are taking fewer than 29 right foot steps in 20 seconds then shorten and quicken your stride without running any harder than zone 4. As a variation on this workout, do the first 2 or 3 strides barefoot (on grass only and be sure to check for sharp objects first). When you put your shoes back on try to run with the same good form you used when barefoot. Cool down by walking in zone 1 for 5 minutes. The experienced runner can vary this workout by doing the strides uphill and may extend it to 45 minutes with a longer warm-up and cool down.

Sample Day 4
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OPTIONAL: Strength Workout #1: AA Phase. The purpose of the AA phase is to perfect the exercise movements while building general body strength. Warm up by spinning on a stationary bike for 5 minutes. Then with a 30RM load (a weight you could only lift about 30 times), do 3 sets of 20 reps each (it will feel easy) of the following exercises: A. leg press, B. seated row, C. chest press, D. heel raise or knee extension or leg curl (choose one of these 3 based on your personal weakness—calf, knees, hamstrings), E. abdominal curl with twist, F. standing, bent-arm, lat pull down. Complete all 3 sets before advancing to the next exercise. Focus on doing each exercise with perfect form. Form is more important than weight loads in this phase. Cool down by riding a stationary bike for 5 minutes with a high cadence and a low resistance.

Joe Friel
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Joe Friel Coaching

An endurance coach since 1980, Joe Friel has worked with triathletes and cyclists from all over the world helping them achieve their race goals. He also trains coaches around the world and has consulted with national federations and national Olympic team coaches. Coach Friel offers personal camps, and seminars for clubs and teams, and consults with professional athletes. He is currently not accepting one-on-one coaching clients.