Everything you need to swim, ride, and stride to the finish line of your first triathlon is right here

By Michelle Portalatin
March 19, 2014

Swimming and biking and running, oh my! A triathlon may seem overwhelming, but this plan will prepare you for an Olympic-distance race-usually a 1.5K swim, 40Kride, and 10Krun-in just 12 weeks. Besides the sense of accomplishment you'll feel, training will get you into the best shape of your life (win-win!). So put a race on the calendar (locate one at trifind.com) and start now. You can print out the full program below and refer to this page anytime you need a refresher on the details.

On race day, take a deep breath, forget about the clock, and just focus on finishing-because you definitely will!

Rest Intervals for Swim Sets

50 meters: 10 to 15 seconds

100 meters: 15 to 20 seconds

200 meters: 20 to 30 seconds

300 meters: 30 to 35 seconds

400 meters: 35 to 40 seconds

800 meters: 40 to 45 seconds

Cycling Zones

Zone 1: easy, aerobic, 60 to 70% max heart rate, recovery

Zone 2: moderate, aerobic, 70 to 80% max heart rate

Zone 3: moderately hard, lactate threshold, 80 to 85% max heart rate

Strength Training

Do this total-body strength routine once a week, in addition to your prescribed aerobic training for that day. Do all four exercises in circuit 1 consecutively, with minimal rest between moves. After the last exercise, repeat the full circuit twice more. Continue with all the exercises in circuit 2, completing the full circuit 3 times total. If this is too challenging, perform each circuit twice instead.

Circuit 1

Squats (bodyweight or weighted, depending on your fitness level): 12 to 15 reps

Pushups: 15 to 20 reps

Seated rows: 15 to 20 reps

Plank: 30-second hold

Circuit 2

Walking lunges: 20 reps

Assisted pull-ups: 12 to 15 reps

Medicine-ball reverse woodchops: 12 to 15 reps in each direction

Side plank: 30-second hold on each side

(If you're printing the plan, be sure to use landscape layout for best resolution.)