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So you want to do a triathlon. Here's how to get started, step by step
February 16th, 2011
01:59 PM ET

So you want to do a triathlon. Here's how to get started, step by step

Want to train for your first triathlon like CNN’s 6-pack, but don’t know where to begin? Here’s some advice from CNN Fit Nation Triathlon Challenge Athletic Director, Laura Cozik on how to get started.

It’s soooo easy!!

Step 1 – Once you are cleared by your doctor to begin a swim/bike/run regimen of training, sign up for a race. Puts the pressure on!

Step 2 – Find some local tri clubs, running groups, cycling groups, swim teams, etc. Triathlon training is more fun with a group, plus you’ll be held accountable and you’ll meet other athletes training for their first race as well. Since these workouts are normally coached, you’ll have the guidance of an athletic professional to evaluate you, prevent you from training too much, ensure that you’re training enough, keep you injury free, and push you on days when you need it.

Step 3 – Insert these workouts into a weekly schedule you can adhere to. Then print out the schedule and hang it somewhere highly visible.

Step 4 – Figure out ways to make this FUN! Enlist friends and family to join you (triathlon caters to all ages). Pick local training races that are fun such as a St. Patrick’s Day 5k where everyone wears green, a swimming race whose course circles the Statue of Liberty, a bike ride that raises money for kids.

Step 5 – Show up! It’s that simple…just show up. A field cannot be plowed by turning it over in your mind, so get out there.

The 6-Pack is training for an Olympic distance race in August. That gives them (AND YOU!) 25 weeks to prepare. Although they are not permitted to race until then, you may try a sprint distance triathlon as early as June. This week you should start with some acclimation workouts, then tune in next week for a TRIATHLON GEAR shopping list. In March, I will post a 23-week training plan for you to follow.

The only limits we have are those we set for ourselves. Aim high!!! And enjoy the journey called life, just in case we only get to walk on this beautiful planet one time.

Triathlon Training for first timers – Week 1: Acclimation

Are you ready to train for your first triathlon?!! This is week 1 of a 25-week program, gearing participants up for an Olympic distance race of their choice in August, and perhaps even a Sprint distance race as early as June. For our first week, you will merely “experience” swim, bike and run. All workouts should be easy, taken at your own pace, and followed up by recovery (stretch, rest, eat healthy). Although the workout length and intensity will vary from week to week, the structure will remain fairly constant. From February thru April, there are two swims, two bikes and two runs weekly. Starting in May, we’ll increase volume, frequency and intensity. Have fun!!

Monday: Rest
Tuesday: Take a 45-minute spin class at your local gym.
Wednesday: Go for a 20 minute run, or run/walk if necessary.
Thursday: Rest
Friday: Swim for 30 minutes, taking breaks as needed. If you cannot swim well, use a pull buoy or a kick board for assistance.
Saturday: Take a 45-minute spin class at your local gym.
Sunday: Swim/Run brick (a brick is a double, combination workout). Swim for 30 minutes, then go for a 20 minute run (or walk/run) immediately following.

Total Time – 3 hours and 10 minutes


soundoff (20 Responses)
  1. Jim

    You will also need a credit card because you will soon be riding a $5000 bicycle and the most expensive suit in your closet will be a wetsuit.

    February 16, 2011 at 16:26 | Report abuse | Reply
    • L

      lol not if you're a beginner, which is what this article is geared toward. you can get a good road bike for 600 bucks new, or buy a used bike for less. you can rent a wet suit for like 40 bucks. there is absolutely no need to spend more than that on your first tri.

      February 16, 2011 at 17:14 | Report abuse |
    • Lauren

      LOL Spoken like a true triathlete!

      February 16, 2011 at 17:50 | Report abuse |
    • Mandy

      Jim, you are WRONGLY assuming everyone needs a credit card to spend $5000. Sadly, yes, most people (Americans), do, but there are people, like me, who know and practrice a thing or two called discipline, delayed gratification & aaah, that unfamiliar word to most Americxans – Savings! So I guess what I'm trying top say is SPEAK FOR YOUR SELF :)!

      February 17, 2011 at 12:29 | Report abuse |
    • Eddie

      Depending on the race, you may not even need a wetsuit. By mid-summer and later, most outdoor water is warm enough to swim without a wetsuit. This is my second year of triathlons, and I specifically only do races that don't require a wetsuit because I don't want to deal with it.

      February 17, 2011 at 13:15 | Report abuse |
  2. emilie

    LOL @ Jim! So true! I just signed up for a 70.3! It's 20 weeks away and I'm freaking out!

    February 16, 2011 at 17:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. TM

    Can CNN PLEASE stop pushing the triathlon thing down everyone's throat? Unless you're interested in having the physique of a 15 year old boy, there's more effective and efficient means of getting in shape... Like maybe some heavy squats, some dead lifts and some sprints. Cheers.

    February 16, 2011 at 18:32 | Report abuse | Reply
    • swampy

      I run ultramarathons and the women in my life all seem to LOVE my body, just sayin"

      February 17, 2011 at 10:20 | Report abuse |
    • TriMike

      Ever try combining some endurance training with your weights?? If all you do is lift heavy you become unbalanced with lots of non functional mass...you're all show and no go!

      Tri's with a good strength regimen are ideal for total body fitness and getting chics!

      February 17, 2011 at 12:11 | Report abuse |
  4. JPH

    @TM. Triathlons is the country's fastest growing sport for several years now. There's probably more people interested in participating in theses types of events than you care to realize.

    February 17, 2011 at 01:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. swampy

    Good stuff! If it does seem a little cost-prohibitive for a newbie, the world of ultramarathon is well within reach for the price of good running shoes and entry fees are reasonable. 50k, 50 mile, 100k 100 mile races are all great ways to run self-doubt into the ground. I have not done a triathalon but I have some serious respect for the athletes.

    February 17, 2011 at 10:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. gritz

    the best thing about doing triathlons is that cross training is involved, which is great for overall health and fitness. I

    February 17, 2011 at 12:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Rob Loar

    A brick is a run after getting off the bike. Not after swimming, common mistake is to call any 2 workouts combined a brick, but the term brick comes from how your feet feel when you start to run after being on the bike, like bricks.

    February 17, 2011 at 15:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Gregg Seltzer

    A rest day on day one. Wow, that is interesting. Another rest day on day four. So half of the first four days of training are rest days. Yikes, good luck training with this coach.

    February 21, 2011 at 13:23 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Bennie

      Perhaps they start actual training on Tuesday....use your imagination. Just because Monday is a rest day doesn't mean that is the day to start training. It's 5 days of training and 2 days of resting. That is adequate for a short triathlon. It's not like they're training for the Ironman Triathlon!

      March 9, 2011 at 22:31 | Report abuse |
  9. Jill Hamiltonbirf

    I can't begin to say how happy I am that Sanjay is doing this again this year, I did my own tri last year for my 60th birthday, I just did the distance of a sprint swim, ride & run. I am planning to train and enter a real tri this summer for my birthday. I am looking forward to following how the 6 pack is doing and to follow Sanjay training plan...

    February 22, 2011 at 13:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Kathleen

    Where are the other workouts?? i have been dilligently following the plan for a week, and even bought a new bike. I've been navigating this site and can't find any real information on nutrition or any other workouts. You said you were going to post more information, including gear, and a 23 week training plan in March. Should we just follow this same training plan until March? Would really like to see more information on nutrition, too, other than "eat healthily". thanks!!

    February 23, 2011 at 13:19 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Rob

      Here are 2 links to get you started:

      http://www.usatriathlon.org/resources/multisport-zone/multisport-lab

      http://www.usatriathlon.org/resources/multisport-zone/fuel-station

      March 14, 2011 at 21:32 | Report abuse |
  11. Jean

    I'm also looking for other weeks of training workouts, etc. Said they would post them each week, but don't see anything except the first week.

    May 30, 2011 at 18:16 | Report abuse | Reply
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