Summer is almost upon us and you’re itching to give sprint tri a shot? Good! Follow this easy to use 8 week program and you will easily cruise through a 600m swim, 20km bike and 5km run
The program is divided into the following sections:
Weeks 0 to 2
This will allow you to get a feel for the way a triathlete should train. It will help you build up some strength, allow you to lose the stiffness in the muscles, and identify your strengths and weaknesses. Basically, you should know exactly where you stand after the first two easy weeks.
Weeks 2 to 4
Here we shall keep the program structure the same, but up the mileage by some 20%. It means you go a bit harder which will allow you to build up a good base from which to work. It is important that we do not overdo it as injuries and lack of energy are two issues we want to avoid.
Weeks 4 to 6
These will be the two peak weeks and are the most important. Consistency is the name of the game. You have to keep your sessions regular and not skip any training. Obviously illness, injury or exhaustion can be taken into account, but if possible, stick to the program as best you can. You can play around with some of the sessions, so mix and match where necessary. As long as you do the necessary weekly sessions swimming, cycling and running.
This week will be used specifically for speed work. Everything is short and sharp. The countdown has begun.
This is basically rest, rest and more rest. You do not become fitter in the week preceding the event. If anything, you can do your chances of having a good race some serious damage by overdoing it. Relax and enjoy the rest. Wait for the big day and give it everything you have got. For most, it is just a question of finishing, so take up the challenge and enjoy the race and the atmosphere. It could be the start of a very long triathlon career.
HELPFUL HINTS AND TIPS
- Before we start, make sure you’re in possession of the right equipment.
- The basics include a swim costume, swim cap and goggles. Please note that it is compulsory to wear a swim cap during the swim leg of a triathlon, so make sure you buy one. Most indoor pools require that you use them, so most should already have this basic item. Goggles are also important. If you wear specs or contact lenses, then they are an absolute must. One must admit that you are certainly not going to see any marine life under water, so the goggles are there more for comfort and eye protection.
- You will have noticed the use of wetsuits at all the races. The original thought was to use this suit to keep you warm in the cold water. However things have changed and manufacturers now design suits to make you fast. These are however quite costly, so if you’re on a budget, rather opt for the speedo. Unless the water is really cold, do not wear the old faithful skin diving suit. This will only weigh you down and hinder your swim stroke. There are only two real options here. Either buy the expensive triathlon wetsuit or go with the stock standard swimming costume.
- As for the bike, once again you have a choice between expensive and “good enough”. As a novice, I would recommend that you keep faith in whatever bike you have presently, be it a jalopy or a mountain bike. As long as it has two wheels and is roadworthy, it’s certainly good enough for your first triathlon. Once you have passed the beginners stage and wish to go faster, then one can look at getting something slightly lighter and more efficient. I would not spend too much money until you are completely sure that this is the sport for you,
- Most novices will ride in their running shoes, which is not a bad thing. If you want to look the part, then buy yourself a decent pair of cycle shoes and pedals. These two items will definitely make you go faster.
- A helmet is also compulsory, so don’t go to the race without it!!
- Running shoes are also an essential item to add to the list. Don’t go and run in new shoes on the day of the race. Wear in the shoes first. The run is hard enough without having to worry about blisters.
RACE DAY HINTS
- In the transition area, make sure you know exactly where your bike is. It may sound stupid but when you have a thousand bikes all lined up together and you’re not totally sure where you put yours before you started swimming, you can end up losing significant amounts of time looking for the trusty steed.
- The swim start is also vital. Don’t go to the front unless you can swim with the big boys. Rather start at the back or on the sides, where you have a good amount of freedom to swim at your own pace. It is also a good idea to continually look up during your swim to make sure you’re headed in the right direction.
- Before you start the bike, take your time and ensure that you have what you need to complete the bike ride. A spare tube and pump in case of puncturing. You do not want to train for weeks only to find that you puncture and cannot repair!
- Start the bike easy and build up speed. If you’re a slow swimmer, do not try and make up all the time lost within the first couple of kilometers on the bike. Pacing yourself is of the utmost importance.
- The run should also be approached with a certain amount of caution. Start slow and finish like the wind.
- If it’s hot, please drink adequately during the cycle and the run. Performance does take a dip if you’re dehydrated, so just keep that in mind during the race.
- A final pointer is to look and learn. There is nothing better than learning from those in the know.
Our first three sessions will begin on a Friday. The idea here is quite simply to show you what your limitations are and to gauge your start up fitness levels
Put on your watch and run for a total of 20 minutes at a good comfortable pace. See what distance you can cover in the time limit allowed. Don’t go hard, easy is what you want.
Go down to your nearest pool and attempt to swim non-stop for 5 minutes. It may sound short, but if you are not a swimmer, it could feel like an eternity. Rest if you have to, but once again measure the distance you complete within the 5-minute limit.
Take out your bike, and see what distance you can cover in 60 minutes. Once again, take it easy and do not over exert.
You might be slightly stiff and somewhat tired, especially if you’re a complete couch potato. Nonetheless, at least you now know where you stand in terms of limitations and fitness levels. Now the real work starts as you begin the 8-week cycle.
MONDAYS: This is a day of rest throughout the 8 weeks. A perfect day to relax and enjoy. Perfect to sort out those post weekend blues.