How to distribute the training load between the three disciplines in triathlon

Before preparing for your first triathlon distance, it is necessary to assess the physical condition of at least three sports included in the discipline, as well as the baggage of theoretical knowledge.

After that, several options open up – to act independently, to study information on the Internet, to consult with comrades who have already overcome this or that distance, or to turn to professional trainers.

How to distribute the training load by type in triathlon and how to build a training process according to the level of training, tell triathlon coaches: a participant in the world championships Ironman Stepan Vahmin and the winner of Ironman 70.3 Turkey, the fastest Russian among amateurs on Kona, head of the sports project RedLava Inna Tsyganok.

How to start in triathlon

If you know how to swim, ride a bike and run, that is to say you have a certain level necessary to prepare a triathlete, the easiest thing for you will be to read specialized literature, especially in a foreign language. Western triathletes are considered the most advanced. In addition, in the open sources on the Internet there are enough plans of all kinds for different levels of training. Don’t overlook the video reviews that professional athletes do.

If you want to achieve an accurate result upon arrival, choose a trainer under whose supervision you will train. The specialist will be able to assess the strengths and weaknesses and make a decision about the training process.

When planning your triathlon training process, you need to understand and view it as one sport and not as three separate disciplines. By betting on just one thing, you are unlikely to achieve your desired goal. It is important to invest your time wisely in the training process: improve the swimming result by a few minutes or shorten the stage of the cycle by an hour. And only a competent specialist can help you in this matter.

Equipment required: a quick guide to triathlon for beginners

How to distribute training load by type

Stepan Vakhmin: A beginner triathlete who has not yet represented his last time for overcoming a particular distance is recommended to train 6 times a week, performing one of the types in turn every day: Monday – swimming, Tuesday – cycling, Wednesday – running, then repeat training. Sunday is a public holiday. This is the easiest and most logical way.

If we are talking about preparing for a semi-iron distance (1.8 km swimming, 90 km cycling, 21.2 km running) with the aim of only finishing, then for training on water, it will be enough to swim up to 2 km, ride a bike for 3 hours and run for no less than an hour. The time limit to cross the semi-iron distance is 7 hours. You can definitely fit in.

Leading at this type of distance can be all kinds of sprints or “Olympics”, competitions in the indoor format, where the distances per sport are shorter.

If we are already planning to improve the result or win, it is necessary to analyze our weaknesses and, based on this, choose training tactics.

How to balance your training load between running, swimming and cycling in a triathlon


Inna Tsyganok: This is all very individual and depends on a person’s level of training and athletic goals. Before starting to train, it is necessary to assess the general physical condition of a person, his cardiovascular system, his muscular balance.

Let’s say an athlete who can run well wants to complete the Olympic distance in a triathlon. But if at the same time he is weak in swimming and cycling, then the emphasis in building a training plan should be on these disciplines: 70% swimming and cycling, the remaining 30% running.

If a person has no sports experience and has no idea how much time they can devote to training per week, you can choose this option for a training plan:

  1. A three-week swim cycle – technique and types are under consideration. Jogging + cycling initiation.
  2. Three-week cycle cycle. Swimming and running as auxiliary types.
  3. Three-week race cycle. Swimming and cycling as secondary activities.

Then all this is combined into one whole.

In cyclical sports, heart rates are important and you need to know your abilities. But it is not recommended to do functional tests immediately as soon as you start training and mastering the sport. Your body is not prepared and the test results may not be entirely correct.

It will be interesting to read: Interview with Vasily Permitin: “A triathlete should not have weaknesses”

How to combine load types

Stepan Vakhmin: We assume that you are an amateur athlete and that you train 6 times a week. And the goal is to cover the chosen distance comfortably and in good health. Then the first priority will be consistency in training and recovery mode.

Signs that you haven’t overtrained: good sleep and good appetite, normal heart rate, quick recovery after a workout.

By analyzing possibilities and sensations in training, you can gradually add minutes in the water, miles in the run and watts in the bike part.

To assess your progress, it is enough to carry out control measurements every month: for example, 1000 meters in swimming, 5-10 km in running and one hour in watts on the bike. And then compare the results. Also, an indicator of your progress can be appearance, if you had the task of reducing the percentage of fat in the body.

At the same time, it should not be forgotten that the results of an amateur athlete are influenced by living conditions and daily stress, which can slow down progress in training. Therefore, training for an amateur should above all be fun. For a specific result, it is necessary to draw up a plan with the help of a specialist and taking into account the individual characteristics of the body.

If you do not have the task of qualifying for the national triathlon team and going to the Olympics, then you should not complicate your training with special types of loads. This is done by a team of professional trainers and doctors under strict supervision.

Inna Tsyganok: Amateur triathletes are advised to devote most of their time to technique in the sport when training. It will help you stay in shape. Improper running technique will result in an injury which will hinder progress in other triathlon events.

The power load can only be added in a light form: exercises with your own weight, auxiliary simulators like the BOSU platform or elastic bands.

How much does an amateur need to train at a “half-iron” distance

Stepan Vakhmin: One of the most popular among beginners, but already self-confident triathletes, is the “half” of Ironman.

The distance is 1.8 km swimming, 90 km cycling and 21.2 km running. You will need two to three months of preparation to cover this distance and respect the time limit.

Many amateur athletes complete their first “semi-iron” distance on foot. There is nothing wrong with that. Over time, you will be able to increase your abilities if you train regularly and skillfully. It is normal for a recreational triathlete to lightly jog or even walk.

Do I have to train in the same order as the triathlon class?

Stepan Vakhmin: From the point of view of working out the transitions from one type to another, of course, this is important. There is a separate type of training – compilation, when they combine and work out the transition, for example, from cycling to running. But from the point of view of the development and reactions of muscles, the load and the switching of the musculoskeletal system in an athlete, coaches recommend a different sequence: first running, then cycling.

There are many types of training suits designed to provide good work stress and different levels of exertion. Here you can experience and observe your feelings.

Inna Tsyganok: Off topic. Sometimes, on the contrary, after a long work on the bike, it is useful to buy – that is, to do a light recovery training in the water.

How to balance your training load between running, swimming and cycling in a triathlon

How many days a week do you need to rest

Stepan Vakhmin: A typical triathlete training week consists of six workouts and one day off. If we are talking about a beginner triathlete, one day a week may not be enough for him to recover.

The generally accepted formula will help here: from simple to complex, from small to large. If you train twice a week, it makes sense to only add one workout in the first month. And so on, but certainly taking into account your well-being and your recovery.

If you are already an advanced amateur, your training week may not include any days off. In this case, an easy swimming or jogging session will become your rest.

The main thing is not to forget that progress comes at rest.

Inna Tsyganok: The standard rule is that at least 4 hours must pass between training sessions. If more, it will be even better. Recovery is an important part of the training process, here we should not forget about massage and bathing.

How many hours per week should you devote to training

Inna Tsyganok: It all depends on your goals and level of preparation. If you plan to run a full iron distance on the flat and want to finish with a result of around 10 hours, you should dedicate 12-17 hours per week to triathlon training.

As in any sport, training is built cyclically: there is basic work, and speed, and endurance. It’s like a set of puzzles that have to be put together in the right order to get the right picture.

When to incorporate compound workouts into your workouts

Inna Tsyganok: There is an opinion that it is advisable to start doing such training 8-10 weeks before the start of the season. First, it can be a combination of 1.5 hours of cycling, then immediately 20 minutes of running.

You need to do such training no more than once a week. Then they can be more intense. But before the start, the intensity must be reduced.