• Henry Wright

How much training do you need to do for a Triathlon?

It looks like racing in Hong Kong will make a comeback, hopefully, very shortly! With quarantine time down to a week, and talk of this being shortened further, it’s now possible and worthwhile looking at racing overseas. Thanks to some easing in the social distancing measures it looks like we very possibly have local swims, runs, aquathlons, duathlons, and even some triathlons on the horizon.


If you’re thinking of doing your first triathlon it’s a great time to get involved, find a race, and get training!

One of the first questions you have to ask yourself before you choose your distance is;

‘How much time do I have to train?’

There are three important factors here:

  1. How much of an existing aerobic base do you have?

  2. How much time do you have per week to dedicate to training?

  3. How many weeks do you have until your intended race?

Whilst there is no magic amount, the below guidance is an average number of hours that I would advise per week for someone to be prepared to dedicate to training for each race distance.

Triathlon is described as an endurance sport, and whilst I’m guiding you with what I see as the minimums here, if you have the time available these numbers can almost double, especially as you become a more experienced triathlete, and if your goals are orientated towards getting on the podium.

As the race distance increases, so does the minimum time you should be spending on training.


These numbers can look a little daunting to those new to triathlon, but they are very doable, especially in Hong Kong where we have a huge number of facilities in relative close proximity, and great transport around the city.

Every worthwhile Tri training plan will progress over a number of weeks with changes in volume and intensity culminating in a taper before your race date. As such I’ve included for the 70.3 and IM distances an average week and a peak week, which will be the week with the highest volume of training in your plan.


I break the number of hours down into three disciplines: Swim, Bike, & Run. It is essential that one of your run sessions is what we call a brick session, where we run directly off the bike.

The number of sessions per week of each discipline may vary somewhat depending on how strong or weak you are at that discipline. If you are a very weak swimmer you may have to concentrate more on swimming, at least to start with.

Most programmes will also include strength sessions on top of the three disciplines ranging generally between 30 mins to 2 hours depending on your chosen distance.

Remember these hours do not include any extra recovery, nutrition, travel, research, self education, and communication with a coach that are inevitably added into your new Tri life.


These are my recommended hours, to avoid injury, progress safely, and race well.

Distance

Swim

Bike

Run

Total Hours

Sprint (750m / 20km / 5km)

1:00 - 1:30 (2 sessions per week)

1:30 - 2:00 (2 sessions per week)

1:15 - 1:30 (2 sessions + 1 Brick)

​4:00 - 5:00

​Olympic (1.5km / 40km / 10km)

1:30 - 2:00 (2 - 3 sessions per week)

2:00 - 3:00 (2 sessions per week)

1:30 - 2:30 (2 sessions + 1 Brick)

5:00 - 7:30

70.3 (1.9km / 90km / 21.1km)

Average

1:30 - 2:00 (2 - 3 sessions per week)

3:00 - 5:00 (2 - 3 sessions per week)

2:00 - 4:00 (3 sessions + 1 Brick)

6:30 - 11:00

70.3 (1.9km / 90km / 21.1km)

Peak

1:30 - 2:30 (2 - 3 sessions per week)

4:00 - 6:00 (3 sessions per week)

3:00 - 5:00 (3 sessions + 1 Brick)

9:00 - 14:00

IM (3.8km / 180km / 42.2km)

Average

2:00 - 3:00 (2 - 3 sessions per week)

5:00 - 6:30 (3 sessions per week)

3:30 - 4:30 (3 sessions + 1 Brick)

10:30 - 14:00

IM (3.8km / 180km / 42.2km)

Peak

3:00 - 4:00 (2 - 3 sessions per week)

7:00 - 9:00 (3 sessions per week)

4:30 - 5:30 3 sessions + 1 Brick)

14:30 - 18:30

The number of weeks recommended to train prior to your race can vary hugely dependant on your past experience, your goals, and your chosen distance. As a guide for a new triathlete I would recommend the below weeks. These are all assuming that you have basic swimming and biking skills.


Sprint - 8 - 12 Weeks (2 - 3 Months)

Olympic - 10 - 16 Weeks (2 1/2 - 4 Months)

70.3 - 24 Weeks (6 Months)

IM - Over 1 year, including a 70.3 distance in prep. I would not recommend a beginner to do an IM as your first triathlon.


If you would like some more specific guidance on what a programme tailored to your ability would look like please get in touch via our contact us page or social media. All our programmes are tailored specifically to the individual athlete based upon their experience, ability, and goals. As part of our progamme we have weekly group sessions throughout the year for all ages and abilities that can be incorporated into your individual plan.

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