Triathlon training | ZEN8 - Swim Trainer

Triathlon training

Are you looking for triathlon training, then you've come to the right place! Want to try something different and challenge yourself? Triathlons incorporate three different sports — swimming, cycling, and running, into one multisport endurance event. Triathlon races are not just for athletes who want to compete; they're also great opportunities for people looking to improve their fitness levels through exercise.

Triathlons usually look daunting at first glance, but they're actually quite friendly events. They tend to be especially accommodating towards newbies. Everyone will get behind you from the quickest triathlete to the slowest finishers even whilst they are competing themselves, cheering you to the finish line. If you have been keeping yourself fit, and been working out consistently, it could take just six dedicated weeks of exercise to get you ready for racing. Naturally, the longer triathlon races require more time.

There are several variables in a triathlon. Firstly, is the event type. This is largely done by race distance in each discipline (swim, bike leg and run).

triathlete cycling outdoor

Photo: James Mitchell Photography

Super Sprint Triathlon

This is the shortest type of triathlon covering 400m swim, 10km cycle and a 2.5km run.

Sprint Triathlon

One of the shorter races but still many competitive triathletes, as well as beginners, frequent this event. The distance is 750m swimming, 20km cycling and 5km running.

Olympic Triathlon

The most famous, namely after the Olympics themselves. This is classed as the standard triathlon. It covers 1.5km swim, 40km on the bike and a 10km run.

Half-Ironman Triathlon

Now things step up a gear! The half ironman or 70.3 as it is also known as more than doubles the Olympic triathlon bike and run distance. It covers a 1.9km swim, 90km bike and a half marathon of 21.1km.

Full-Ironman Triathlon

Once thought only for elite triathletes, now more and more athletes are getting involved in this gigantic triathlon. This is the biggie! It covers a swim of 3.8km, a bike of 180km and then finishes with a marathon (42.2km).

Other variables include the location that runs and bike races may be held on. This could be on roads or in fact be off-road; swimming events may be pool based or held in open water.

Ironman Triathlete Runner
Photo: James Mitchell Photography

What Should Your Triathlon Training and Racing Goals be as a Beginner?

Firstly, ask yourself why you're deciding to do a triathlon in the first place. Knowing your purpose and goal will help to motivate you throughout your training.

Once you know your reason, you need to look at different race calendars to find events that call out to you. When choosing, think about different options and different variables. For instance, you'll find that local races are often full of support, with your friends and family in attendance. However, if you want to go to an event overseas, you'll get the chance to travel and have new experiences.

You also need to think about events that are held at altitude. These require a lot more training. Are you able to handle oxygen deprivation? How do you manage in humid and dry climates? These are questions you need to ask, as well as looking at the course the event is held on.

Then, work out how much time you can realistically dedicate to training and look to involve family and friends to keep you motivated. Make sure that you're honest and realistic when working out how much time you have to train - this will save a lot of stress over the long term.

Gear you will need

  • Race belt
  • Sports drink
  • Energy gels
  • Bike (Mountain bike, Road bike or Triathlon bike)
  • Bike shoes
  • Bike tyres
  • Wetsuit
  • Swim cap (Included with the ZEN8 Swim Trainer 🤫)
  • Swim Paddles
  • Swim Fins
  • Snorkel
  • Swim Goggles
  • Running shoes
  • Watch
  • Trisuit
  • ZEN8 Swim Trainer
Make sure you allocate time to visit the bike shop and ensure your bicycle is in perfect working order ahead of time. The last thing you need on event day is to find out something isn't working as intended such as your brakes are rubbing on your rims or the chain isn't lubricated properly and slipping, presenting a possible injury risk.

Training sessions shouldn't only be cardio-based. It's important to get some form of strength training in your routine to strengthen your muscles and reach optimal performance.

You'll want to allow time for recovery so your body has time to repair muscle damage caused by the intense training you're putting your body through.

You can become a triathlete in only six weeks with a dedicated training program although the longer you have to prepare, the better you can prepare and build within your workout. If you're looking for triathlon coaching or specifically a training plan, we offer our customers numerous of training plans designed to go alongside your Swim Trainer by Head Coach Kieran Lindars.

ZEN8 Swim Trainer On Demand Workout

How to Get Started

If you're already a good swimmer and you've been maintaining your fitness levels through exercise already, you're ready to start training. It's possible to get from a regular level of fitness to triathlete fitness in around six weeks. However, if your level of fitness is a little lower, you'll need a little longer to prepare. In that case, you'll need to dedicate three days per week to each discipline.

It can be difficult to travel to a pool for swim practice and in that case, consider purchasing the ZEN8 Swim Trainer. This helps you build swim specific strength, technique and improve core strength while on dry land, therefore saving you plenty of time in the process.

Of course, if you're new to swimming or you can't swim at all, make sure you dedicate time to taking lessons and spending time in the pool before choosing to move towards a triathlon.

Don't underestimate the swimming part of the race. It can be the hardest part and take the majority of your energy, if you're not well prepared. If you're not sure how strong of a swimmer you are, focus on that section first. And make sure to get use to swimming in the open water.

Choose a Plan

As soon as you hit the point where you have a moderately good level of fitness, you can work your training schedule into your routine. A good suggestion is two swims per week, two biking sections per week and two runs per week. That routine will help you to reach your triathlete fitness leave in six weeks. But, remember that there may be days when you can't dedicate the time you need, due to personal commitments.

If that happens, try to add that session elsewhere in your week or simply let it go. Don't push your body to its limits - you need at least one full day of rest per week unless you've built up your tolerance over many years.

Exhausted triathlete after run workout
Photo: James Mitchell Photography

The Six Elements That Make Up Excellent Training

Follow these six elements and you'll be strong and triathlon ready in six weeks.

  • Don't assume that workouts have to be really long - Don't avoid working out if you only have an hour to spare. It's better than nothing! A shorter workout is just as beneficial and it can fit into your routine much easier. Consistency is key, rather than the length of sessions. So, if you have a meeting in an hour, why not squeeze in a half an hour session? You'll recover quickly and still grab the benefits. The ZEN8 Swim Trainer can be used for these shorter workouts to help you build core strength and technique outside of the pool. You don't always need to be in the water for your swim training!
  • Focus on quality rather than quantity - It's not always the number of hours you do that matters, but the type of training and the quality that's more important. Instead, it's best to create a balanced plan of different types of training, such as threshold, VO2, technique, sweet spot, and recovery sessions. The amount of time you spend on it isn't the issue, it's working on the things you need the most. Of course, that means also placing priority on sleep and good nutrition too.
  • The level of intensity should be in line with your overall goals - If you have fewer hours to focus on training, you need to allocate more time to upper-intensity areas. The majority of triathletes focus their attention on cycling because it's less damaging to the joints and tendons and is less likely to cause injury. It also builds muscles and power. As far as running is concerned, focus on frequency rather than placing too much importance upon frequency. You need to work towards in excess of 25 miles per week but to do that, you need to build up your strength to avoid injury. So, look towards easy runs several times per week, rather than focusing too much ongoing all-out and risking injury.
  • Allocate the amount of time you spend on each area relative to your goals - Of course, you need to complete each portion of the event as fast as possible but you need to dedicate time strategically when training. If you're a weak swimmer, you need to focus more time on building up your strength and technique. The ZEN8 can help you to do that. Then, when you feel you have reached a good proficiency level, you can look at the other disciplines and areas you need to work on.
  • Track your progress carefully and work within intensity zones - When you train in specific intensity zones, that means your body will adapt and improve relative to that particular zone. Basically, you'll get better and stronger. But, you also need to track your progress within each zone so you know when you need to raise intensity accordingly. You can do that by performing field tests and using the data you retrieve to look at whether you need to make any changes to your training program. Remember, every single minute that you spend training needs to have a purpose and you need to know how it fits into your overall performance.
  • Recovery is vital - Many beginners make the huge mistake of assuming that training is everything and recovery comes second. That's not the truth. Recovery is vital if you want to avoid injury and preserve your strength/energy. Fatigue will damage your training efforts and set you back. Make sure that you sleep and focus on good nutrition. Give yourself one day off per week from your training and you'll be able to recover adequately. Burnout will give you nowhere.

In Conclusion

There's no denying that training for a triathlon is a real commitment and it takes a lot of time and effort. You need to make sure that you not only perform well in each discipline but that you excel. The best way to approach your training is to do so intelligently. Don't assume that going 'all out' will get you where you need to be. A smart approach to training will yield the best results.
Back to blog