Forget about equipment, stroke technique, going fast, or transitions. The most important part of preparing for doing a sprint distance triathlon will be your training plan itself. A solid triathlon training plan for a sprint triathlon will have you moving in the right direction, so to speak, from day one onward. So how do you develop a “solid” plan when there is so much noise out there about the best way to train for this sport?
First of all, take into consideration where you are starting from. Are you currently exercising several days a week, and want a new challenge? Or, are you a couch potato that needs to learn how to swim and ramp up your activity level slowly?
If you are in good shape already, and know the basics of swimming, you will have no problem jumping in to a training schedule. Often times, this will consist of about 9-12 weeks, where you are swimming, biking, and running 3 times per week each. For a sprint, the race distances can vary. However, by the time your race is upon you, you should be able to do each distance of the race on consecutive days. For example, if your race is a 500 meter swim, 20k bike, and 5k run, do the swim on Monday, the bike Tuesday, and the run Wednesday. If you are currently at a point where you haven’t exercised much in a while, and entering a triathlon was a move you made to force yourself to get into better shape, you definitely made a good decision! Your training plan will be a little different, however. Instead of starting with running, just start walking every day. After a week or so, jog a little bit. Slowly increase your pace until you can easily run a couple miles without a problem.
Same thing will apply to biking. You may be able to go for longer sooner, but don’t be tempted to overdo it!
The swim is another story. If you are not used to swimming, or don’t know how to swim, don’t be embarrassed to take it from the beginning. Learn to submerge your face and blow bubbles. Seriously! In my years of coaching, I have come across many true beginners that need to start at this basic level. The good thing about a sprint triathlon is that you don’t have to go very far in the water. So, move from the basic swimming skills to balancing in the water. Once you have balance, you can survive a typical sprint swim distance- even if you are going super slow. In general, your plan should look something like this: Monday: Swim Tuesday: Bike and Run Wednesday: Swim Thursday: Bike & Run Friday: Swim Saturday: Bike Sunday: Run
You can always double up on some days if you want a day off each week.
So there you have your sprint triathlon training plan for your next race! Stick with it, be consistent, and you will most likely be satisfied with your results on race day.