As strange as it sounds to nonendurance junkies, the most addictive element of triathlon is how fun the races are. The simple thrill of racing three different ways in a morning is hard to fully explain.
But when you want to improve your triathlon performance beyond simply surviving the race, triathlon training is a big part of the fun as well—it becomes a puzzle to be solved. Few are blessed with being strong swimmers and bikers and runners, and figuring out how to not only improve your weaknesses but also fit all that training into a busy life is a unique challenge.
This is why a training plan is essential for a triathlon. If you’re looking to train yourself and not hire a coach, you’ll find a lot of plans out there. Here are some of the best ones on the internet.
(Free, with paid interactive versions available)
Legendary coach and longtime author Hal Higdon developed these extremely straightforward, beginner-friendly, eight-week plans for sprint-distance triathlons. The first plan is more of a general fitness overview, with days for strength building and even walking, and isn’t meant to make you competitive. The second plan is more specific and features combination workouts that allow you to practice your transitions using brick sessions, which are bike-run workouts that get your body used to running on heavy, tired legs (just like on race day). Both plans measure in time rather than distance; more detailed, interactive versions of these are available through TrainingPeaks.
($54.95 to $84.95)
Coach Matt Fitzgerald created 40 plans—ten each for sprint, Olympic, half-Ironman, and Ironman distances. Whether you’re aiming to win or simply to finish, there’s a plan for you. Triathlete also offers a free “super-simple” Ironman 70.3 training plan. The paid plans are all on the TrainingPeaks platform.
($4.95 to $1,500)
If you’re looking for the mother lode of training plans, look no further. The industry-standard TrainingPeaks platform lets you track your plan and all data from your workouts across all your devices. You’ll find plans here from top coaches like Dave Scott, Siri Lindley, Joe Friel, Jim Vance, and many others, plus official Ironman-branded plans.
($185 per month)
For those who want a customized plan without the commitment of regular coaching, elite coach Matt Dixon will craft a plan for you based on your type of race, goals, and weekly schedule. There’s also unlimited support for all your training and racing questions when they come up—and Dixon offers one-on-one consultations if you need them.
Super Simple Ironman Plan
Like any iconic race, Ironman attracts a lot of bucket-listers. For those who simply want to finish 140.6 miles, this Ironman-branded six-month plan will get you to the start line—and, ideally, over the finish line. It’s broken down monthly, not weekly, and there are no listed effort levels for each workout—simply duration.