You've decided to sign up for your first triathlon coming up in four months. Congratulations. Over the next four months you will discover new physical abilities, confidence and a new level of fitness that you never realized you could achieve.
Let's get right down to business with details about your first month of training. If you havn't already, visit the XTERRA Appalachia First Time Finisher's Training Plan. (You must register on the website to have access to the plan) , Print it out, and put it in a prominent location in your house where you will see it every morning and every evening. While the time committment is not great, the comittment to a regular, consistant training plan is.
The training plan is designed with a first time triathlete in mind. If you can do the following, then you should be successful following this plan. If not, don't let that discourage you. Four months is ample time to get up to speed in all three disciplines.
- You can ride a bike,
- You can swim 25-50 yards without stopping
- You can do twenty minutes of a run/walk combination.
Feel free to modify the plan to your own strengths and weaknesses. if you are already a strong swimmer for example, you may want to devote a little more time to running or cycling. Each week features two workouts in each sport for a total of six workouts per week. You should take at least one full day of rest each week, feel free to move this day to whatever suits your schedule.
Week one requires a total of about 2 1/2 hours of workouts.
Two workouts of 400 and 500 yards. Swim any combination of lengths to total the correct workout distance. You can alternate strokes if you like, but if you would like to do the swim in all freestyle, then simply take your time and rest as needed inbetween lengths. If you can only swim 25 yards at a time, then simply do sets of four lenghts and do four sets total for your first workout. The second workout do five sets of four lengths each.
Swim 1: Warmup 4 x 25 yards with long slow strokes resting as needed. Main set: 4 x 25 yards at a moderate effort, rest 10 seconds after each length. Rest for 60 seconds then repeat. Cooldown: 4 x 25 yards focus on good form, resting as needed. Total 400 yards
Swim 2: Warmup 4 x 25 yards with long slow strokes resting as needed. Main set: 4 x 25 yards at a moderate effort, rest 10 seconds after each length. Rest 60 seconds. 4x 25 yards moderate effort, rest for 5 seconds between each legth. Rest for 60 seconds then repeat first set. Cooldown: 4 x 25 yards focus on good form, resting as needed. Total 500 yards
Use any bike you have available, you don't need to own a $1000 or even a $500 bike to do a triathlon. The XTERRA Appalachia is an offroad event, so you should get in at least one trail ride a week, but you can do a lot of your training on the road as well. Use whatever safe trails you have available to you and always wear a helmet- NO EXCEPTIONS.
A note about safety: You should be prepared for the most common biking incident which is a flat tire. Carry with you a patch kit, a pump and/or CO2 cartridges. All of this and a small tool set can be stored in a small under-the-seat zippered pouch. I put a business card with my contact information in the pouch as well. Always wear a helmet and carry some type of identificaiton with you. A cell phone is also a great backup safety device that you'll be glad to have when you need it.
Bike #1: 30 minutes of easy riding. Get used to your bike, change gears frequently to become accustomed to how they work. Practice pedaling fast and slow and note the relation ship between your gear selection and how fast or slow you can pedal. Have fun with this ride, see if you can get a friend to come along.
Bike #2: 50 minutes of easy riding. For this ride, focus on staying in a gear that lets you pedal at a cadence of around 90 rpm. You don't need a fancy bike computer for this, just count the number of pedal revolutions you make in 10 seconds and mutliply by six. Fifteen revolutions in six seconds equals 90 revolutions per minute. This may seem difficult at first, but if you practice it will get easier and it will pay off in the long run.
I realize that running comes naturally for some people and for others is extremely difficult. The best thing you can do is start off with a good fitting pair of running shoes. If your shoes are more than 6 months old or have more than 300-500 miles on them, buy yourself a pair of new shoes from a good running store. your ankles, knees, hips and back will thank you!
Run 1: The first run is an easy 20 minute run. You should keep your effort at a "conversational" level. If you are breathing too hard to say more than a few words at a time, you need to slow down. If you are not able to run for 20 minutes continuously, then alternate running and walking as needed. A 5 minute brisk walk to warm up followed by alternating 2 mintues running & walking five times, followed by a 5 minute cooldown will add up to 20 minutes. Treat yourself to a tall glass of water when you are done!
Run 2: This is a slightly longer run of 25 minutes. If you are following the run/walk plan, continue with 5 minute walking warmup and cooldown with 15 minutes of alternating running and walking inbetween. Try to slowly increase the amount of time you are able to continuosly run.
Congratulations on finishing week one! You are on track for an amazing transformation into becoming a Triathlete!