This is how I trained for my first Olympic Distance Triathlon

Six weeks before the race, I started the second half of Runner World’s Perfect 10: Olympic Distance Training Schedule. I had searched online for the simplest plan with the lowest volume of work. No heart rate zones or any special equipment. No brick sessions because that would be difficult to coordinate. I liked this one because the programming was based on a combination of time, distance, and speed, and changed it up every 2-3 weeks.

Then, I dumped the plan into Google Calendar and did what I could while still going to CrossFit one or two times a week. I also cycled to work on a semi-regular basis to get used to riding my shiny new road bike and the glaring sun. And I consumed every online article and video about training and competing in triathlons that I could find.

And that was the entirety of the master plan!

Disclaimer: Don’t follow my plan. I mean, it’s not a plan. Also, note that I CrossFitted very consistently for 3-4 times a week x 20 months prior to these six weeks.

Here is the total mileage during this time:

  • Swimming: 13400m (7 trips to the pool, 1 to the ocean)
  • Cycling: 162km (5 sessions along Arakawa River)
  • Running: 47km (7 runs)
  • CrossFit: 10 times
  • Bike commute (25km): 16 days

I imagine the work that I put in is shockingly low compared to that of other first-time triathletes. Actually, now that I’ve tallied everything, it feels low. Even though it felt like a substantial volume and intensity at the time!

The typical plan has the newbie training for three months, and the one I (kind of) followed was no different, but I felt comfortable skipping the first few weeks because the first phase of any beginner plan is to get your body used to exercise. Then it was summer and just too darn hot…

Week 1

1600m

CF

1600m

25km

25km
Week 2

CF

32km

1600m
5km

5km
Week 3

CF

CF

5km

5km

CF

10km
1500m
Week 4

1100m

CF

2000m

12km

35km
Week 5

CF

CF

2400m

45km
1600m

5km

Week 6

CF

CF

RACE DAY
  • “CF” – CrossFit
  • Blue – swimming
  • Orange – cycling
  • Green – running

Okay, so I skipped half the runs and bikes, put in the occasional multiple, and tapered by going to CrossFit. The creator of the plan would probably refuse to be associated with me.

In spite of all that, I’m really pleased with how I planned and executed my training.

Six weeks turned out to be just long enough to get into a good rhythm while being short enough to keep the attention and enthusiasm levels sky-high. The intensity was also high enough to unveil visible gains so the training never got boring. I was learning so much with every training session.

In hindsight, that was most important. My training felt like it was working and that was super motivating. It helped that I was noticing a difference in my CrossFit workouts – specifically in the metcons. I could keep going on the longer WODs and improved especially on the ones that involved running, something I never imagined happening, as previously mentioned.

If I were to do it again, I would have gotten up early on weekdays for proper riding sessions instead of counting the commute as training. The commuting required skills that took a few weeks to obtain. Any time on the saddle is valuable but obviously, quality is important. I was concerned with learning how to ride next to cars, not getting lost, and showering before work. This ended up mostly being a distraction, in terms of training for the triathlon.

For those with Strava accounts – and too much time on your hands – you can log in and see all of my logs. Most of the swimming and some of the running is interval-based.

Last but not least is more geekiness: how I shopped for my first triathlon.