What Should My Training Split Be For Triathlon – Part 2

In part 1 of what should my training split for triathlon be I spoke about the general percentage split of training between swim, bike and run each week.  For part 2 I will go into specifics of what that could look like in terms of actual weekly programs.

A training split can and does change depending on an athletes, specific needs and areas such as their background/experience, goal event and access to training resources.   However, for the purposes of this article it is useful to provide a couple of practical examples.

Firstly, let’s look at someone doing a standard distance race of 1500m swim, 40km bike and 10km run.  We will assume it is a triathlete of intermediate level who has been doing the sport for a few years and places mid pack in their age group.

This is an example from one the programs in our Tri Goals 12 week course.  I have also put an estimate of the time it could take to complete each session:

MONDAY

SWIM
WU (warm up): 200m swim, 200m pull, 200m fins, 200m kick with fins and board 15 sec rest

MS (main set): 5 x 100m 15 sec rest holding best average. After 5 easy 200m pull.
Repeat x 2-3

WD (warm down): 200-300m easy

Total 2.4 – 3.2 km
Estimated training time 45 minutes to 1 hour

MONDAY PM

RUN
Easy 15 min @65-75% of MHR (Maximum heart rate) then stairs session for strength and 4-6 x 60-80m strides on slight downhill before easy 5-10 min to finish.

Estimated training time 40-45 minutes 

TUESDAY

BIKE
WU:  15-20 min easy building in RPM (revolution per minute) and intensity towards the end.

MS: 4 x 8 min @ 50-60 RPM in hardest possible gear @ 65-75% of MHR with last 10 sec of each minute out of the saddle and increase RPM to 60-70.
4 minutes easy spin in between each.

WD :5-10 minutes easy.

Training time 68-78 minutes 

TUESDAY PM

RUN
Easy 40-50 min @ 65-75% of MHR and 4-6 x 60-80m strides on slight downhill

Training time 40-50 minutes

WEDNESDAY

RUN
Easy 15-20 min warm up then 2 x 90 sec, 4 x 60 sec, 4 x 30 sec, 4 x 15 sec min @ 80-90% of MHR with equal easy jog recovery in between and easy 10-15 min to finish.

Training time 50-60 minutes 

WEDNESDAY PM

SWIM
WU: 200-300m easy swim

MS: 60 x 50m pull/paddle 15 sec rest as 4 easy 1 hard. The easy 50's should feel easy with hard 50's aiming for 5-7 sec quicker than easy 50's

WD: 100-200m easy swim

Total 3.3 - 3.5 km
Estimated training time 65-75 minutes 

THURSDAY

BIKE
WU: 10-15 minutes easy building in RPM towards the end.

MS: 5 x 4 min hard intervals @ 80-90% of MHR with 4 min easy spin recovery in between. Aim for 80-100 RPM in intervals

WD: 10-15 minutes easy

Training time 60-70 minutes

Run Off The Bike

10-15 min off the bike on how you feel.  Training time 10-15 minutes

THURSDAY PM

REST OR CROSS TRAIN
Strength session or cross training such as pilates or yoga

FRIDAY

SWIM
WU: 3-4 x 200m easy choice 15-20 sec rest

MS:  4 x 50m on 90 sec holding best effort. After 4th easy 200m swim and rest 1 min. Repeat x 4-5

WD: 400-500m easy choice

Total 2.6 – 3.3km
Estimated training time 50-65 minutes 

SATURDAY

RUN
Easy 75 minutes @ 65-75% of MHR

Training time 75 minutes

SATURDAY PM

SWIM
Optional recovery swim of 1500m straight with fins or pull buoy all easy
Estimated training time 25-35 minutes

SUNDAY

BIKE
2-2.5hrs in one harder gear than what feels comfortable and 60-70% MHR. Every 30 min 2 x 15 sec sprint with 15 sec recovery
Training time 2-2.5 hours

Total weekly training time is between 10 hours 20 minutes and 13 hours broken up into the following between swim, bike and run:

Swim 3 potentially 4 sessions of 3 hours 05 minutes to 3 hours 55 minutes

Bike 3 sessions of 4 hours 10 minutes to 5 hours

Run 5 sessions including one run off the bike of 3 hours 35 minutes to 3 hours 55 minutes

In a program like this there is great aerobic benefit across the whole program.  In the swim, bike and run components we are working a lot on developing strength across all 3 disciplines.  Triathlon is a strength endurance sport meaning we need to be specifically strong for each discipline and aerobically fit.

You could modify this program depending on the athletes, strength and weaknesses.  This program assumes they are reasonably balanced across swim, bike and run.  However, if for example they needed to do more work on the bike you could easily add some additional volume onto the bike sessions. Even an extra 15-30 minutes across all sessions would benefit them without the risk of overtraining.

Another example program from our Tri Goals course is a beginner level athlete doing a sprint distance triathlon of 750m swim, 20km bike and 5km run.

MONDAY 

SWIM
WU: 3-4 x 150m 15 sec rest pull, fins or swim.

MS: 4-7 x 200m with pull buoy or swim and 15 seconds rest after each. First 50m of each is hard

WD: 6-8 x 50m choice 15 sec rest

Total 1.55-2km
Estimated training time 45 minutes to 1 hour

TUESDAY

BIKE
WU: 10 min building in intensity.

MS: 4 x 4 minutes in hardest gear possible @ 65-75% of max HR with 4 minutes recovery in between. The last 15 sec of each minute is out of the saddle and hard

WD: 10 minutes easy
Training time 52 minutes

WEDNESDAY

RUN
40 minutes @ 65-75% of max heart rate. Do 3-4 x 50-60m strides at the end with a walk back recovery. Strides are done at pace you would do 3km race at. Aim for tall upright posture and light quick feet

Training time 40 minutes

THURSDAY

BIKE
75 minutes @ an easy pace. Ride in one harder gear than what feels comfortable. Every 15 min sprint for 15 seconds

Training time 75 minutes

THURSDAY PM

REST OR CROSS TRAIN
Strength session or cross training such as pilates/yoga

FRIDAY

SWIM
WU: 3 x 300m 30-40 sec rest optional pull or fins

MS:  4 x 50m hard 45 sec rest. After 4th easy 100m pull and rest for 1 min. Repeat x 3-4

WD:  4-5 x 100m rest as needed

Total 2-2.5km
Training time 40-55 minutes

SATURDAY

REST DAY
Rest or strength training.

SUNDAY

RUN
45 minutes @ 65-75% of maximum heart rate.  Training time 45 minutes

Total training time for the week is between 4 hours 55 min and 5 hours 25 minutes without any optional strength training which would be around 30 minutes per session.  Of that total the swim is 1 hour 25 minutes to 1 hour 50 minutes, bike is 2 hours 05 minutes and run is 1 hour 25 minutes.  It is a basic level program of 2 swims, 2 bike and 2 run sessions per week with optional strength work or cross training.

For our Tri Goals 12 week courses, we have videos that accompany the sessions explaining them in more detail.  It also allows people to choose their ability level for each discipline. For example, they may have already done a lot of running but no cycling or swimming. As part of our Tri Goals course they can self-select the beginner level swim and bike sessions but do the advanced level run sessions provided.

If I was personally coaching someone and writing their program with such a background that is how I would structure their program.  It would start with low levels of swim and bike training but a greater run load because that is what they are used to.  Therefore, as I alluded to above the program would look different to the ones I have used as examples.

While there are basic guidelines to help with the training split for triathlon the most important principle is consistency.  Whatever training you do each week, be consistent, stay healthy and enjoy it.  That is when you start to see the improvements and results.

Read more on our Tri Goals 12 week programs

training split for triathlon

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