Olympic Distance Training for the Time-Crunched Triathlete

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After you have a couple Sprint triathlons under your belt, you might find yourself hungry for more. How about giving an Olympic distance triathlon a whirl?

An Olympic distance triathlon isn't a cake walk. Known also as the International distance, it's the distance competed at the university and the Olympic levels. You're looking around a 1,200 meter swim, followed by at least 60 minutes on the bike, and running for at least 45 minutes.

In other words: an Olympic distance triathlon is no cakewalk.

Yet, for most triathletes, the distances aren't the biggest challenge. It's finding a way during your everyday life to prepare for the race.

This training plan is for all you fellow triathletes who struggle to find the time for your training.

And don't worry -- you won't have to get up at 4am to do this (by the way, doing that never works. You'll never be able to stick to it unless you can go to bed at 8pm, which means basically going to bed before your children which is just depressing).

How This Program Works

  1. This program works the same way as the Sprint version (if you haven't done a Sprint triathlon, make sure you do a couple of those first before beginning this program). You'll train for four weeks. Each week ramps up the intensity level a little. Week 4 is your recovery week. After four weeks, you start again at Week 1, which is essentially your rest/recovery week.
  1. If you have a race, use the two-week taper schedule at the end of this article to allow yourself optimum time to become race-ready.
  2. The easiest way to make this program work is to get a membership at a gym with a swimming pool. Your training may come when at times when no one else needs you, which unfortunately means early morning before everyone's awake, at lunchtime, or late at night when everyone's asleep.
  1. If you're with little ones, also check to see if the gym has childcare.
  2. One other word of advice: make sure you get at least 7 hours of sleep a night.

Week 1

  • Monday: Off
  • Tuesday: Bike 45 minutes | Swim 700 meters
  • Wednesday: Run 30 minutes
  • Thursday: Swim 700 meters | Bike 34 minutes
  • Friday: Off or strength train
  • Saturday: Bike 60 minutes
  • Sunday: Run 40 minutes

Week 2

  • Monday: Off
  • Tuesday: Bike 50 minutes | Swim 1,000 meters | Run 25 minutes
  • Wednesday: Run 35 minutes
  • Thursday: Bike 45 minutes | Swim 900 meters
  • Friday: Off or strength train
  • Saturday: Bike 75 minutes
  • Sunday: Run 50 minutes

Week 3

  • Monday: Off
  • Tuesday: Bike 45 minutes | Run 20 minutes | Swim 1,200 meters
  • Wednesday: Run 40 minutes
  • Thursday: Bike 55 minutes | Swim 1,200 meters
  • Friday: 20 minutes
  • Saturday: Bike 85 minutes
  • Sunday: Run 60 minutes

Week 4 (Recovery)

  • Monday: Off
  • Tuesday: Bike 45 minutes | Swim 1,500 meters
  • Wednesday: Run 30 minutes
  • Thursday: Bike 45 minutes | Swim 1,500 meters
  • Friday: Off or strength train
  • Saturday: Bike 60 minutes
  • Sunday: Bike 40 minutes

The following two schedules are tapers. Do these two weeks before a race.

Week 1 (Taper)

  • Monday: Off
  • Tuesday: Bike 50 minutes | Run 25 minutes | Swim 1,600 meters
  • Wednesday: Run 50 minutes
  • Thursday: Bike 60 minutes | Swim 2,200 meters
  • Friday: Run 50 minutes | Swim 1,500 meters
  • Saturday: Bike 75 minutes
  • Sunday: Run 45 minutes

Week 2 (Taper)

  • Monday: Off
  • Tuesday: Bike 40 minutes | Swim 1,200 meters
  • Wednesday: Run 30 minutes
  • Thursday: Bike 40 minutes | Swim 1,200 meters
  • Friday: Off
  • Saturday: Bike 10 minutes
  • Sunday: Race!