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April 22, 2015

Training for a Triathlon?

By Vancouver Physiotherapist, Lesley Cuddington at Teamworks Health Clinic

The sport of triathlon used to be considered a bizarre form of self-torture engaged in by endurance junkies who had gone over the bend – and I used to agree. However, these days completing a triathlon is thoroughly mainstream. Each year, thousands of individuals participate in their first triathlon in search of fitness and a rewarding challenge. As the spring and summer season rolls around, the triathlon season is getting into full swing!

Nevertheless, the sport remains rather intimidating for beginners. It is complex, and the learning curve is steep for first-timers. In this article, we hope to provide a boost along this curve for those of you who are considering a first triathlon by assisting you in developing a training program for your triathlon.

In a typical triathlon, the average participant spends 20 percent of the total race duration swimming, 50 percent of the total race duration cycling, and about 30 percent of the total race duration running. Your training should approximately match these distributions. Each week, you should do roughly equal numbers of swim, bike and run workouts, but your bike workouts should be longer and your swims shorter. For example, you will do about double the distance of each leg of the race each week but in separate moments.

Begin with an amount of training that is appropriate to your present level of fitness and increase the workload incrementally throughout the time you have available before your race, always allowing yourself enough time for recovery. If you’re a typical out-of-shape adult who’s neither overweight, elderly, nor suffering from any debilitating medical conditions, you’ll need about 12 weeks to prepare for a sprint triathlon (approximately a 750m swim, 20km bike, 5km run). After your first sprint distance triathlon, you can start to tackle the next distance up and train for your Olympic distance triathlon (approximately 1.5km swim, 40km bike, 10km run).

If you’re worried about your training schedule or are noticing any discomfort, now is the time to see a physiotherapist to start a proper training program and address the issues.


– Lesley Cuddington, Registered Physiotherapist 

Our collective of highly qualified and accredited healthcare practitioners share a passion for professional collaboration and comprehensive patient care. Come and meet us at the clinic.