Also known as a "sprint" triathlon, this is the perfect beginner's distance.

By From the editors of Fitness magazine
March 11, 2020
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You don’t need to be a pro athlete to be ready to give tri a try. If you're moderately fit, you can be ready for a "sprint" distance mini triathlon in eight weeks. Most sprint triathlons are just a half-mile swim, a 12- to 15-mile bike ride, and a 5K run. (Repeat after me: I can do this!)

Although it’ll only take a couple of months, throughout training for your mini-triathlon, you'll get in very, very good shape. Triathlons offer beginners a doable challenge, fast results, and little risk of injury, says Terri Schneider, endurance athlete and coauthor of The Triathlete's Guide to Mental Training.

Not to mention the life-altering mental benefits. Really! "'Doing a triathlon changed my life' is the comment I hear most often from the women I train who are new to the sport," says Schneider. (Related: This Woman Completed Her 60th Ironman Triathlon While Pregnant)

Mini Triathlon 8-Week Training Plan

Training doesn't have to feel hard-core, says Schneider, who created this newbie mini-triathlon guide. Include speed bursts in at least one cardio workout per week; on strength days, do at least one exercise for each muscle group. (This at-home full-body routine is a stellar option to start with!) Here's how to get race-day ready in eight weeks:

Week 1 Mini-Triathlon Training Plan

  • Monday: Rest day (these built-in recovery days are a vital part of the program!)
  • Tuesday: Bike 30 minutes
  • Wednesday: Walk/Run or Run 20 minutes + Strength workout
  • Thursday: Swim 400 yards
  • Friday: Rest day (Need some inspo? Here's how one runner learned to love rest days.)
  • Saturday: Bike 45 minutes
  • Sunday: Walk/Run or Run 20 minutes + Swim 300 yards

Week 2 Mini-Triathlon Training Plan

  • Monday: Rest day
  • Tuesday: Bike 40 minutes
  • Wednesday: Walk/Run or Run 20 minutes + Strength workout
  • Thursday: Bike 30 minutes + Swim 500 yards
  • Friday: Rest day (And keep your spirits high with a little motivation from triathlete America Ferrera)
  • Saturday: Bike 50 minutes
  • Sunday: Walk/Run or Run 35 minutes + Swim 400 yards

Week 3 Mini-Triathlon Training Plan

  • Monday: Rest day
  • Tuesday: Bike 35 minutes
  • Wednesday: Walk/Run or Run 20 minutes + Strength workout
  • Thursday: Swim 600 yards (Not a great swimmer? No problem. Check out how learning how to swim made this writer an even better athlete.) 
  • Friday: Strength workout
  • Saturday: Bike 1 hour
  • Sunday: Walk/Run or Run 40 minutes + Swim 15 minutes open water (or 750 yards)

Week 4 Mini-Triathlon Training Plan

  • Monday: Rest day
  • Tuesday: Bike 30 minutes
  • Wednesday: Walk/Run or Run 20 minutes + Strength workout
  • Thursday: Bike 30 minutes
  • Friday: Rest day
  • Saturday: Bike 45 minutes 
  • Sunday: Walk/Run or Run 20 minutes + Swim 15 minutes open water (or 750 yards)
Julia Bohan

Week 5 Mini-Triathlon Training Plan

  • Monday: Rest day
  • Tuesday: Bike 30 minutes + Run 10 minutes
  • Wednesday: Walk/Run or Run 20 minutes + Strength workout
  • Thursday: Bike 50 minutes + Swim 700 yards
  • Friday: Rest day
  • Saturday: Bike 70 minutes
  • Sunday: Walk/Run or Run 45 minutes + Swim 20 minutes open water (or 1,000 yards)

Week 6 Mini-Triathlon Training Plan

  • Monday: Rest day (Related: 12 Triathlon Training Tips Every Beginner Triathlete Needs to Know)
  • Tuesday: Bike 40 minutes + Run 15 minutes
  • Wednesday: Walk/Run or Run 20 minutes + Strength workout
  • Thursday: Bike 45 minutes + Swim 800 yards 
  • Friday: Strength workout
  • Saturday: Bike 75 minutes
  • Sunday: Walk/Run or Run 50 minutes + Swim 20 minutes open water (or 1,000 yards)

Week 7 Mini-Triathlon Training Plan

  • Monday: Rest day
  • Tuesday: Bike 40 minutes + Run 15 minutes
  • Wednesday: Walk/Run or Run 20 min. + Strength workout
  • Thursday: Bike 40 minutes + Swim 900 yards
  • Friday: Rest day
  • Saturday: Bike 50 minutes
  • Sunday: Walk/Run or Run 35 minutes + Swim 15 minutes open water (or 750 yards)

Week 8 Mini-Triathlon Training Plan

  • Monday: Rest day
  • Tuesday: Bike 30 minutes (Related: 14 Reasons Why Bike Riding Is Seriously Badass)
  • Wednesday: Walk/Run or Run 20 minutes
  • Thursday: Bike 30 minutes + Swim 600 yards 
  • Friday: Rest day
  • Saturday: Bike 10 minutes + Swim 10 minutes open water (or 500 yards)
  • Sunday: RACE DAY!

Cross-Training Tips for Mini Triathlons

For the Swim

  • Train with all the strokes you like...freestyle, breaststroke, backstroke, even sidestroke if you feel like you need a break. (Study up on this guide to all of the different swimming strokes.) And make sure you can swim at least slightly farther than the race distance; it'll make the actual race seem shorter. 
  • If possible, do a practice open-water swim. If the water is cooler than 78 degrees, borrow a wetsuit, which will keep you warm. (Note: The snug fit can take some getting used to.)

For the Bike

  • Make sure yours (road, mountain, or hybrid) is in good condition. "Get a basic tune-up [approximately $40 at most shops, plus any needed parts] to avoid glitches, and adjust the seat and handlebars to fit your body," advises Schneider.
  • Know your terrain. Take a look at the course map ahead of time. If it's hilly, make sure all your training isn't just on flat ground. On the stationary bike or spin bike, train at a moderately high resistance.

For the Run

  • Do some combos. A short bike ride followed immediately by a brief run is aptly known as a "brick" in tri parlance, because the transition can make your legs feel heavy and sluggish. Prepare yourself for the sensation with at least a couple of them before the race itself.
  • Run/walk if you need to. If you're a beginner, it's a smart way to get to the finish line of a mini-triathlon. Start by running for two or three minutes, then walking for the same amount of time. As you get fitter, increase your runs and shorten your walks. (As you set up your mini-triathlon training agenda, consider these interval running workouts that will make you feel faster.)

5 Gear Picks for Your Mini-Triathlon

While you could drop thousands of dollars on fitness gear, we've boiled things down to these five favorite training essentials to help you rock your mini-triathlon.

  1. With its lightweight aluminum frame and relatively light price tag, the Felt VR60 Road Bike (Buy it, $949, felt.com) is perfect for the beginner triathlete.
  2. The supercute Zoot Sports LTD Triathlon Suit (Buy it, $165, amazon.com) goes from the swim to the bike to the run—with SPF 50+ protection for sun safety. 
  3. Giro's Seyen MIPS Road Cycling Helmet (Buy it, $70, amazon.com) has 26 vents to keep you cool while firmly hugging your head. 
  4. Mizuno's Wave Prophecy 8 Running Shoes (Buy it, $150, amazon.com) have a unique cushioning system to get you through the final miles. 
  5. Barracuda's Triton Polarized Fog-Free Goggles (Buy it, $30, amazon.com) have a comfortable silicone seal to prevent raccoon eyes. (See also: The Best Swimming Goggles for Every Situation)
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