Triathlon Training Guide

About the Guide

As coaches we've introduced hundreds to the sport of triathlon and guided athletes to their goals, from Try a Tri's to Ironman. The amount of detail on each point in the guide varies but we feel the list is pretty comprehensive with a few exceptions. It's basically a free How to Train for Triathlon book! We hope it helps you on your triathlon journey.

"Knowledge is a process of piling up facts; wisdom lies in their simplification." M. Fischer

Let us show you how achieving success in triathlon is simpler than you think!

  1. Swim Technique: Novice start up progression

    • Kick with fins to build confidence, learn proper motion, help ankle flex

    • Side Swim Head Up: sweet spot, linear

    • Side Swim Head Down: Head Down: linear, equally rotated

    • Slow Mo Swim (B/F): head up, 4beat, recovery, wide grasp, rotate, head down

    • Board out/paddles in. Paddles out. Fins out.

  2. Monitoring Intensity - To be added

  3. Training Plan Creation and Management - To be added

  4. Run Technique and patient progression

    • Shoulders down, chest out, hands high, cadence

    • Lean: Focus on chest out, hips forward and you’ll be perfect. Lean is natural.

    • Footstrike: flat foot with weight over balls of feet. Cadence corrects this.

    • Proper start point and build patiently from there. Leave body wanting more.

  5. Behavourial strategies

    • First: Support from those who matter – family, friends, even boss

    • What roadblocks might you face to getting the workouts done?

    • Formulate strategies to overcome or accommodate each

    • IE Boss makes you work late often and miss wkout. Answer: Early am workout.

    • Trouble starting workout: just do warm up, look in the mirror and do a gut check

  6. Swim Technique

    • Hand: relaxed, small space between fingers

    • Recovery: high elbow, low hand, relaxed, not too tight to body

    • Entry: all fingers, wide, half arm’s length, down sloped arm

    • Catch: high elbow, snow shovel timing

    • Mid-Pull: high elbow

    • Finish: past hip

  7. Goal setting, diminished returns, race distance selection, exertion level

    • Find the distance that will work in your lifestyle

      1. Super-Sprint: 3hrs/wk

      2. Sprint: 3-6+

      3. Olympic: 5-10

      4. Half-Iron: 8-12+

      5. Ironman: 10-16+

    • Once one distance is completed

      1. Same distance and effort level. Maintain fitness and enjoy balanced lifestyle

      2. Go faster at same distance (uncomfortable)

      3. Stay at comfortable exertion level and go longer

      4. Go hard at longer distances

  8. Bike Technique

    • Posture: shoulders down, chest out, elbows bent, wrists slight ext.

    • Pedaling in circles: flat then dip toe, scrap mud

    • Cadence: 90ish, break the workload up into smaller pieces, efficiency

    • Standing: hips slightly forward, hips level (no vert. Oscill), don’t bottom out

  9. Fueling

  • Super Sprint/Sprint: Only if undernourished or need psych boost

  • Olympic is over 2hrs so supplementation recommended.

  • Definitely for HIM and IM

  • Starts in training – experiment how much you can take per hour

    1. Max is around 300 cal/hr – don’t go over (nauseous)

    2. Try different products

  • Day before fuels the shorter races: easy to digest, balanced

  • Morning: small breakfast 2-3hrs out, easy digest

  • Race:

    1. Wait till settled on bike before starting. Water only first.

    2. Consume up to 300 cal on bike, total of fluid and solids

    3. Finish consumption 10’ before end of bike

    4. On run, consume but less per hour than bike, easy to digest

  1. Equipment - Bike:

  • Types

    1. MTB/Hybrid good for first but road is much more efficient

    2. Road – majority of bikes in local races. Flexible use. Comfortable

    3. Tri – thoroughbred. Build to be road fast on aerobars.

  • Fit

    1. Benefit of working with reputable shop

    2. Must be able to hold position comfortably otherwise it doesn't matter how aero you are

    3. How tight are your hamstrings and back? How long arms/torso?

    4. Get aero without sacrificing power.

  • Maintenance

    1. Practice changing front and back tire

    2. Know how to clean and lube the drive train

    3. Know how to check/tighten all fasteners (own tools to do so)

    4. Rest can be cared for by bike shop or you can learn more

  • Trainers

    1. More expensive = smoother/more realistic ride, quieter, monitoring power, online apps

    2. Types: Direct drive, magnetic, fluid, rollers

  1. Training load balance

    • Adaptive stress + rest = increase in fitness

    • Too much stress hurts quality of training or forces missed days

    • Do Just Enough To Improve, today’s workout sets up tomorrow’s

    • Consistency is key, not fireworks and ashes

    • Wellness is key: sleep, nutrition, stress + workout effectiveness

  2. Equipment: Run

    • Shoes:

      1. comfort is number one

      2. reputable shop and staff

      3. great if they can watch you run and analyze your gait

      4. more minimalist shoes train the muscles of the feet and helps in adopting proper flat foot strike. Transition slowly, though. Walk before you run. Option: where low ramp flat for walking to work on foot strength while wearing a slightly more supportive ramped shoe for running.

    • Accessories: hat, sunglasses, shirt/jacket, shorts/tights, socks, watch, water belt

  3. Avoid Injuries

    • Be patient in your training

    • Most injuries from too much, too soon

    • Do just enough to prompt an increase in fitness

    • Stick with the plan, avoid testing yourself too early in training

    • Work on strength and mobility every week. 15 minutes a week is better than none.

  4. Equipment: Swim

  • Goggles:

    1. should suction into eye socket for one second without strap on head

    2. Mirrored if swimming into the sun

  • Accessories: suit, cap, pull buoy, fins, board, paddles, band

  • Wetsuit:

    1. Very challenging to get a good fit. Work with an experienced shop.

    2. Tighter when dry than when wet.

    3. Neck should seal but not to too tight

    4. Shoulder flexibility

    5. Variable thickness of neoprene = buoyancy

    6. Smoothness decreases drag

    7. Zipper aids in quick transitions

  • Wetsuit

    1. Putting it on and taking it off

    2. Cleaning

    3. Storage

  1. Hydration

    • How to know if you’re dehydrated: pee check, weight check

    • Most science says you can lose 2% weight from fluid loss without it impairing muscular function

    • Don’t ignore thirst, sip regularly

    • Adapt to the conditions

    • Don’t over drink

    • Water vs Fluid Replacement Drink (FRD)

  2. Energy Balance, body comp

  • First step (only step?): 6 Tweaks

    • Hydrate first

    • Healthy choices

    • Balanced meal sizes

    • Eat Slowly

    • Plan

    • Deal with stress

    • Adopt one behaviour at a time and maintain it

  • Second option: Track nutrient and calorie intake

  1. Determine needs based on activity level

  2. Create healthy food list with nutrient break down

  3. Track intake, check for nutrient balance

  4. Create small, sustainable caloric deficit between intake and activity level

  5. Maintain and be patient

  1. Recovery strategies

    • Nutrition:

      1. get 200-300 cals in between 15 and 45min after hard workout

      2. if a long hard workout, follow with a meal 1-1.5 hrs after then graze every hour or two after that to keep nutrient flow going

    • RICE:

      1. Rest – after a hard workout

      2. Ice – ice baths have been found by some to help speed recovery by increasing blood flow

      3. Compression – socks, tights have been shown to increase blood flow and speed recovery. Science on affect while exercising is inconclusive.

      4. Elevation – lay down and get the legs up to increase blood flow

      5. Day after: active recovery, easy bike ride to get blood through legs. Add very gentle mobility work to loosen up. Don’t over stretch.

Race Prep Education

  1. Open water swimming skills

    • Warm up is number one tip for new triathletes

    • If cold water race, get in the water frequently in week’s before race to adapt to temperature

    • Starts

      • Most important skill here is the ability to settle down after spike in HR

      • Practice with some 50m hard, 150 settle to race pace intervals

      • Beach start: practice running in and perhaps dolphins

      • Shallow water start: faster swimming or walking?

      • Deep water start: tread on back, on stomach for start

    • Sighting practice

    • Corners

    • Contact: practice toe-touching with a buddy

    • Drafting: practice with a buddy

  2. Road biking skills

    • Do parking lot practice to hone your general handling skills

    • Race specific:

      • Running with the bike

      • Mounting/dismount and going in a straight line

      • Shoulder checks

      • U-turns

      • Understand drafting and blocking

  3. Planning training routes

    • Swimming:

      • Pool: If you can get to a long course 50m pool every once in a while, very beneficial to have longer straights

      • Open Water:

        • Be safe. Take a rescue can. Take a buddy.

        • In early days look do shorter intervals in water that’s walkable depth

        • Don’t skip rough water days, race may have them, but be safe – stay in the shallows.

    • Biking:

      • Simulate your race course:

        • If flat course, do lots of riding in the flats on aerobars if you have them

        • If hilly, find a course that suits. Do longer rolling rides and workouts that include hill intervals.

    • Running:

      • Simulate your race course:

        • Same as the bike: flats or hills

        • If your race day run will be in the heat, train in the heat.

One month out:

  1. Race rehearsal

    • Distance varies with race. Don’t deplete self and affect other training.

    • Timing and contents of dinner night before and small breakfast morning of.

    • Find a buddy to hang out with your equipment while you do your thing.

    • Set up your Tzone as you would on race day. Set up your race nutrition.

    • Swim warm up then on shore to stay loose before going back in. Start, settle, sight.

    • Transition One: out of the wetsuit, into bike gear, run to made up mount line and off your go.

    • Ride a similar route. Practice your race day nutrition and hydration.

    • Transition Two: dismount, jog to Tzone spot, change to run gear, off your go

    • Find your pace, test your nutrition and hydration.

  2. Training Etiquette and race rules

    • Swim

      1. Swim in the appropriate lane for your speed

      2. Rest in the corner of the lane not on the T

      3. Allow faster swimmers to pass on end or mid-lane (hug side)

    • Bike

      1. If riding with another, share the front – don’t just draft

      2. Unless it is agreed upon, don’t accelerate when taking the front

      3. If in a formal group ride, don’t bring aero bars.

      4. Communicate if changing your line

      5. Look before you spit

    • Run

      1. Stay with the planned pace

      2. Be aware and communicate to buddies when sharing a path

      3. Communicate if changing your line.

      4. Look before you spit

  3. Travel tips: bike transport

    • Check the costs of taking your bike before booking your flight. Prices vary.

    • Some airlines allow you to reserve a spot for your bike.

    • Find a good bike case. Soft case, hard case, inflatable case.

    • Some cases can be checked as luggage with no extra charge.

    • If there are lots of bikers on your flight, check in early. There are only so many spots for bikes.

    • Print the airline policy off their website and take it to check in.

    • If it’s a code-sharing flight, check that the partner airline has the same fees.

  4. Race day tips

    • Arrive early (2hrs before) – schedule a half hour of relaxing time into plan

    • Set up Tzone – not too much width

    • Take bike for short, safe ride to ensure all is working

    • Body marking

    • Chip

    • Walk or jog through transition routes

    • Wetsuit on and down to beach for swim warm up.

  5. Race gear check list

    • Swim

      1. Goggles

      2. Cap

      3. Race suit

      4. Wetsuit

      5. Other: body glide, ear plugs, extra goggles/cap

    • Bike

      1. Bike

      2. Helmet

      3. Bike shoes

      4. Bike repair kit (bag, pump/co2, tube, tire levers)

      5. Sunglasses

      6. Race belt (for number)

      7. Water bottle(s)

      8. Optional: floor pump, race nutrition

    • Run:

      1. Shoes

      2. Hat

      3. Optional: socks, hat, fluid belt (optional), race nutrition

    • General:

      1. Towel

      2. Post race clothes

      3. Sun block

  6. Race execution

  • Pacing

    1. Swim

      • Seeding: Don’t be overly ambitious, or too conservative

      • Relax and focus on maintaining good technique

      • Build into your target exertion level.

      • Only draft if you can do so relaxed and with good form

    2. Transition One

      • Smooth and intentional, not rushed

      • Avoid stress, stay calm

      • Keep the change over as simple as possible, few steps

    3. Bike

      • The bike and run are one. Don’t try to nail a faster than planned bike as you’ll pay for it on the run.

      • Build into the bike.

      • You are tapered and strong but not superman. Hold back and use the ride to set up a great run.

      • Stick with your plan which is based on your training evidence.

      • Don’t crush the hills – maintain exertion level. Those that pass you will come back soon.

      • Execute your nutrition plan: calories per hour, fluid

    4. Run

      • Build into the run

      • Adrenaline will push you to run too fast at the start

      • Find the groove in the first 1-2k.

      • First third – hold back, next third – maintain, final third – give your best effort.

  • Nutrition

    1. Don’t eat in transition

    2. Wait till stomach is settled (~15 min) till consuming on bike. Start with water, then FRD, then solid

    3. Hit your intake targets, don’t exceed them

    4. Don’t wash solids down with FRD, use water.

    5. Stop solids 15min before end of bike.

    6. Only water for first 15min of run, then FRD, then solid

    7. Hit your intake targets, don’t exceed them.

    8. If you start on coke, don’t stop.

  1. Finish line tips

    • Before the race:

      1. If it’s something you’re considering, check first that crossing the line with family members is allowed.

      2. Find out where your family and friends can meet you after you finish.

      3. Find out where the photographer will be so you can nail your pose.

    • If your finish line photo is important to you, check your pace to have the finish all to yourself.

    • Before the line:

      1. Check your hair.

      2. Check for gel drool.

      3. Be thankful for having the good health to participate in a triathlon.

      4. Strike the pose.