If you are new to any of the triathlon sports or have not exercised for a while it’s worth investing time in developing skills through couch to 5k or swim a mile plans before you embark on your first triathlon training plan. This will help you build the skills needed to swim, run or cycle properly and build a solid base of fitness before you commit to 6 sessions per week.
This will mean you need to start your training earlier but will help you later in your preparations and there is a wide range of programmes available and as they are generally designed to get people into a new sport they are designed to be simple, fun and easy to follow.
Beginners swimming training plans
Swimming is an excellent spot for all levels and ages because it’s low impact and promotes mobility across a wide range of muscle groups, so it’s heavily promoted by national sporting and health organisations.
Your local pool or national body will have details of specific plans or training in your area, but if not, then here’s a link to a few great plans aimed at getting you from 0-1600m or 1k. You may also decide to cut this short if your chosen triathlon plan has a base of 400m for example.
The key thing for beginners is to focus on the form of the stroke so look for a plan that includes drills if you are not taking on a coach. Remember, practice makes permanent, not perfect, so errors that are in your stroke will just get worse unless corrected and can lead to injury as the training load increases.
Speedo do a comprehensive swim fitness programme suitable for all levels which can be found here
This is the classic swim a mile beginner programme by Ruth Kazez that is simple and easy to follow. Click Here
Swim Ireland run a very popular and successful annual Swim a mile programme, and you can get free training plans as part of this, here. Don’t worry about not being in Ireland, you can still enjoy the online resources.
Cycling for beginners
Cycling plans are a little more difficult to come by, as the assumption is we can all cycle and many cyclists are just using their bike for commuting, so have a basic level of understanding. Most plans you find are aimed at cycling 100Mile races and triathlons or assume that you are using a static trainer.
You need to get out on the road on a bike, getting the key skills of cornering, pedal cadence and gear selection ( not to mention braking) is vital.
Red Bull have a beginners(ish) programme, here, but it starts at 30minutes
British Cycling has a range of plans but you need to register. Their Sofa to 50k plan can be found here
Some of the cycling magazines have good beginners plans. They do assume some knowledge, like training zones, but this is easy to pick up and will be needed for the main triathlon training, Cycling Weekly and Average Joes. Cancer research and the NSPCC also do plans for people doing charity BIke rides.
begin running safely – couch to 5k plans
A slow steady build up to running is key to avoiding injury, with no more than a 10% increase in mileage each week recommended, and as many triathlon training plans start off with a 5k base, you need to build up in advance.
It’s worth starting with a mix of running and walking until you get your muscles and joints used to the impact and movement involved, and this is the basis for the couch to 5k programmes. It makes sense to think of these as plans that get you to do the distance but just make you faster as you do less walking and more running over the programme.
The classic Couch to 5K plan is now available as a paid app, here, but there is a wide range of alternatives available on the internet, eg. At C25k, who have a range of different languages, the UK’s NHS version