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Triathlon Training for Women

Quick Triathlon Training Tips
  • Triathlon Training Tip #1: Substitute indoor cycling classes for an outdoor ride if time is tight. Generally speaking, 1 hour indoors in a cycling class is equivalent to 11⁄2 hours spent cycling outdoors.
  • Triathlon Training Tip #2: Use interval training in the pool. At first you may be limited by arm fatigue, so an interval format allows you to accumulate more yardage. Try repeats of 100, 200 or 300 yards with adequate rest, eventually building to 500-yard repeats. Remember that, while freestyle is fastest, any stroke is allowable in most sprint races.
  • Triathlon Training Tip #3: Get to an open body of water for at least a couple of swims before race day. Most races take place in a lake or the ocean, where there are no lane lines and the visibility can be only a few feet.
  • Triathlon Training Tip #4: Consider expert help with swim coaching, as swimming is a highly technical sport. Masters swim programs exist in almost every city, and most programs include participants at a wide range of levels who are grouped according to their abilities.
  • Triathlon Training Tip #5: Train the weakest link. Of the three disciplines, most people have one at which they are less adept. If, for example, you’re a natural runner but sink like a rock when in water, forgo one run workout per week and add an additional day in the pool.
  • Triathlon Training Tip #6: Don’t forget to train the transitions between swimming, biking and running! Make sure you have done at least one “dry run,” practicing both changeovers by race day.

Unless you’re Ironman-bound, triathlons are not just for the superfit athlete, compulsive exerciser or wealthy retiree with too much time and too little to do. Beginner-friendly sprint-distance races, many of which are designed exclusively for women, are showing up more often on race calendars. A sprint-distance race usually includes a 750-meter swim (roughly half a mile), a 20K bike ride (12.4 miles) and a 5K run (3.1 miles). Even a “supersprint” distance—half the distance of a sprint race—is offered at some women’s events. The atmosphere at these events seems to be less tense than at traditional coed races, with participants hugging and holding hands, smiling and weeping openly.

Looking for a challenge? One of these races may remotivate you to exercise or be a fun new goal. Here are some triathlon training tips from Lenita Anthony, MA, a San Diego–based exercise physiologist, IDEA contributing editor and presenter, and national coach for the Reebok Women’s Triathlon Series.

Why Tri?

The necessary variety in triathlon training makes it one of the most enjoyable ways to get in all-around great shape. The three disciplines combine and complement one another to strengthen the cardiovascular system and to build balanced strength, which helps ward off injuries. Other reasons for “tri-ing” transcend fitness. Participants talk about their postrace exhilaration and tremendous sense of accomplishment. Some women even describe the experience as life changing.

Making Time for Training

The training involved for a sprint-distance race doesn’t have to be much more than you already spend working out. Following a training plan that leads to a goal can actually improve time management skills, increasing productivity and efficiency. Training for a sprint-distance triathlon does not have to take over your life. In fact, most coaches agree that one of the most common errors is overtraining.

Find a personal trainer or coach who can help you create a training plan. This plan is a “road map” of the weeks leading up to race day and is essential to guard against under- and overreaching. When you can see the logical progression up to race day, you are more likely to take the appropriate days off and are mentally more confident.

Triathlon Resources

To learn more about triathlon training and discover the dates of upcoming events, check out these websites or search “sprint distance triathlon” on the Internet:


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