How to train effectively for a sprint triathlon in 6 weeks

How to train effectively for a sprint triathlon in 6 weeks


Are you looking forward to your sprint triathlon? With proper training, reaching the finish line of your sprint triathlon is a very achievable goal.

When you think about it, triathletes don't just appear out of thin air. Many new entrants to the sport are seasoned athletes. They focus on or excel in one specialty, curious to test themselves in the two they have never competed in or considered until now. The big attraction is the single feature the three legs of triathlon share - they're all aerobic-centric. In other words, the trio challenges your stamina thresholds in water, on a bicycle, and running. Also, because they're on the sprint side of the equation, it demands a degree of consistent speed in each leg of the race if you want to excel.

I’m assuming moderate aerobic fitness is demonstrated in any one of the three disciplines or more. For example, if you are traditionally a runner tackling 5 km and 10 km races or training runs regularly, you are an excellent “six-week” candidate. As a participating athlete in at least the triathlon disciplines, I don’t doubt that you'll finish the race. However, we are talking about competing at your best level across the board to attain a personal time you'll be proud of.


Three big tips to start

1. Put your strong skills on the back burner in favor of building the one or two that need development. You've got your work cut out if all are weak, but it's possible.

2. Listen to your body throughout the process. Moving too aggressively too quickly is where the injuries take you down.

3. Combine stamina build-up with speed training. Yes, the two can efficiently work hand in hand if you go about it smartly.


    Fartlek training and a structured training program

    I'm introducing you to a Swedish training technique called fartlek. It sounds smelly, but it's far from what you imagine. The English translation is "speed play," a mix of fast and slow, heavy and light training in the same workout to bolster your speed and triathlon simultaneously.

    ● Fartlek training is highly effective because you'll see substantial improvement quickly. Elite cross-country skiers rely on it as a staple training strategy.

    ● It's pretty unstructured, allowing you to sprint at race speed for a distance, then slow down until you catch your breath and are ready to take off again.

    ● It's a fast-slow routine, sometimes for an entire session.

    ● An extremely aggressive fartlek session is when the spells of relaxed pace and speed are at least equal, or the latter stretches are relatively longer.

    ● Conversely, a conservative session favors longer "catch-your-breath" stretches.

                        So with this in mind, let's develop a schedule. Here's a 6-week training plan that will take you from day one to the finish line.


                        Week 1: Five-and-a-half hours over five days - One rest day.

                        ● Running: Day 1 - one hour; Day 3 - one hour; Day 5 - 30 minutes with a 30-minute swim.
                        ● Swimming: Day 2 - one hour; Day 4 - one hour; Day 5 30 minutes with a 30-minute run.
                        ● Cycling: Day 6 - 30-minutes.
                        ● Tempo on all training sessions: Relaxed, get into a rhythm, no stress, no sprinting. No Fartlek. If you can't stay in action continuously, stop and take a breather. Don't deduct time for any rests in the time frame.

                          Week 2: 6 hours over six days - One rest day.

                          ● Repeat Week 1 except take cycling on day 6 for one hour.
                          ● The significant difference is inserting conservative Fartlek sessions into the training. In other words, short speed bursts with lengthy recovery in between.

                              ○ That means all six days - nothing too strenuous.
                              ○ With the cycle on day 6, only 30 minutes of conservative fartlek. The rest is at a relaxed pace.

                            TIP: Make fartlek training fun by picking a spot ahead of you and sprinting until you hit it. Try to make them a little longer each time. Also, don't stress yourself to exhaustion with any one sprint.

                            Week 3: Six days - One rest day.

                            ● Two days of running - one 10 km of a slow jog; the other day - 10 km with aggressive fartlek (i.e., relatively longer intervals with speed).

                            ● Same routine for swimming - one 1500 meter session relaxed; the other day - 1500m with aggressive fartlek.
                            ● Cycle - one-day comfortable ride 40 km; the other day - 40 km with aggressive fartlek.

                              Week 4: Four days - Three rest days.

                              ● Day 1 - 5 km run and 750 m swim with aggressive fartlek throughout the session.
                              ● Day 2 - Rest.
                              ● Day 3 - 20 km cycle and 750 m swim with aggressive fartlek.
                              ● Day 4 - Rest.
                              ● Day 5 - 20 km cycle and 5 km running with aggressive fartlek.
                              ● Day 6 - Rest.
                              ● Day 7 - Any discipline you like for an hour, relaxed and slow.

                                Week 5: Six days - One rest day

                                ● Two days of running - one day a 5 k time trial (as if you are racing); the other day 5 km a slow jog.
                                ● Same routine for swimming 750 meters - one day at race speed; the other day at a comfortable pace.
                                ● Cycle - On one day, take a relaxed ride of 20 km; the other day - 20 km at a race pace.

                                    Week 6: A wind-down week before the race (3 days of activity)

                                    ● Repeat Week 5 without the time trial days, at cruise pace (between slow and racing speed).


                                      I hope this helps to get you going. If you find things too strenuous, cut the time and/or distance guidelines down by twenty-five percent. For example, one hour translates to forty-five minutes, and 10 K converts to 7.5K. The secret ingredient is the fartlek. The ideal balancer gets you up to speed (excuse the pun) while sustaining a triathlon. The more you embrace it, the more you'll see its fantastic benefits. I believe you’ll find that carrying the system through after the race and making it a fixture of the training schedule will accelerate progress and create fun doing it.