Sprint Triathlon Training Plans

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Free Sprint Triathlon Training Tips & Training Plan

A sprint triathlon usually involves a 750-meter swim, a 20-km bike and a 5-km run, although these distances can vary slightly. The best way to train for a sprint triathlon, is to include regular swimming, cycling and running into your lifestyle. That may sound obvious, but the point is that other types of cardiovascular training are not as effective. For example, activities like aerobics and rowing are great, but they’re not your best use of time for triathlon. You’re better off sticking exclusively with swimming, cycling and running. Plus, some strength training, if you have the additional time. 

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Top Training Tips For A Sprint Triathlon

The challenge of triathlon training is trying to fit it all in, on top of everything else in your life. To improve at all three disciplines simultaneously, you need to train twice per week for each one. That’s six workouts per week, before you’ve even considered strength training. Thankfully, the workouts don’t have to be long, typically 15 to 60 minutes in duration. However, it’s still important to carefully plan your training before you start.

This is most people’s weakest area, and the aspect they are most concerned about. If you’re not a confident swimmer, it’s a good idea to sign up for a series of adult improver swim lessons. Within a matter of weeks, you will improve your technique and fitness. Otherwise it’s very hard to improve your swimming alone.

Once you can swim 400 meters or yards freestyle in a pool without stopping, you can then train on your own more, or in a group. Break up your swim workouts, into smaller chunks with regular rest periods. We suggest you always have some idea of what you’re doing, before you get in the pool. You’ll get more out of following a pre-planned workout, than you will by plodding up and down aimlessly. If you follow our training plans, we do all the thinking for you. We also include video swim drills, to help improve different aspects of your stroke.

If you can already swim 1000 meters or yards non-stop, you could join in with a triathlon club swim session, or masters swim club. Training in a group, with a poolside coach, is the fastest way to improve. If you’re thinking of doing a triathlon with an open water swim, it’s a good idea to practice swimming in that environment too. It doesn’t have to be every swim you do but aim for at least two open water swims before you race in open water. We include these workouts in our training plans too, in the lead up to race day.

The distance you swim in your training depends on your current level. If you’re a beginner, aim to gradually build up to a level where you can swim 1000 non-stop. That way, you know you’ll be safe to swim a sprint triathlon, and still have energy to spare.

Aim to cycle a couple of times per week (or more) and if you’re a beginner, gradually build your rides up to a distance of 25 km (or 15 miles). This will give you enough fitness for a sprint triathlon, with a little to spare. The majority of your training can be done at chatting pace, but it’s also good to include some harder efforts.

You can either cycle outdoors in good weather, or indoors using a trainer such as a Wahoo KICKR. Many indoor trainers enable you to link to interactive cycling software like Zwift. This means you can ride with real people in a virtual environment – which makes it more fun. The workouts in our training plans can be exported to platforms such as Zwift, TrainerRoad and Garmin. However, it’s sensible to do at least some of your training outside on the bike you intend to use during your triathlon. This ensures you’re used to the feel and handling of your race-day bike.

Aim to run twice per week, but be sensible about your speed and distances, to avoid injury. For example, start off by running two miles and increase your distance by 1 mile per month until you’re able to run four or five miles. Do most of your running at chatting pace, even if it means you have to include some walking. It’s also good to include some harder efforts, but interspersed with plenty of easy stuff. Be patient with your running. Impatience leads to injuries, and consistency is your goal.

There are normally two 40-minute strength and conditioning sessions per week with our sprint triathlon plans. Not everyone can fit them in around their busy lives, on top of their swimming, cycling and running, but it’s good if you can. These workouts can help balance your strength and flexibility, which leads to more efficient movement patterns and fewer injuries. We suggest you only do strength work in addition to at least two swims, two runs and two cycles per week. Rather than instead of them.

12-Week Beginner Sprint Triathlon Plan

  • We also have FREE Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced plans available for download below (8- and 12-week PDFs only).

This short training plan is suitable for Beginner or time-limited triathletes, aiming for their first Sprint distance triathlon. With just 12 weeks to go until event-day, this plan assumes you are currently able to swim 800 m/yards with rests, ride for 30mins and run for 15mins – but not all on the same day. The plan builds up to race day, and helps improve your fitness and confidence for your target event.

Using Our Plans

To help you train at the right levels, we use five training zones, based on feel or heart rate. If you use heart rate, you can use our simple heart rate training zone calculator. Note: our premium plans include fitness tests for smarter, personalised training zones on every workout!

  • Zone 1 – Feels like “Easy/Recovery” – Heart rate 68-73%
  • Zone 2 – Feels like “Steady/Endurance” – Heart rate 73-80%
  • Zone 3 – Feels like “Mod. Hard/Tempo” – Heart rate 80-87%
  • Zone 4 – Feels like “Hard/Threshold” – Heart rate 87-93%
  • Zone 5 – Feels like “V. Hard/VO2 Max” – Heart rate 93-100%

We also use some simple abbreviations to keep things easy to read:

  • Z1 to Z5 – Your training zone
  • FC – Front crawl
  • PULL – Front crawl with a pull-buoy between your thighs
  • KICK – Kick with a float held out in front
  • DRILL – Your preference of swim technique drill
  • BUILD – Do each rep slightly faster than the previous

Week 1 - 2:56hrs (Base Phase)

Average weekly training hours are 3:43 with the biggest week at 4:53 hours. This includes 2 swims, 2 rides, 2 to 3 runs and an optional 45 minute strength and conditioning session (our free plans come with a free Strength & Conditioning guide too). There is usually 1 workout per day, with 1 day off each week.

  • In comparison, our Intermediate plan averages 4:53 hours and Advanced 8:37 hours.
A nice steady run, mainly in Z2. This can be a jog/walk.

Total Distance: 800

Warm Up:
1 x (100 FS in Z2 + 50 Kick in Z2 + 20 secs rest),
1 x (50 Kick in Z4 + 20 secs rest).

Main Set:
2 x (50 FS in Z2 + 50 FS in Z3 + 30 sec rests),
2 x (50 Pull in Z2 + 50 Pull in Z4 + 30 sec rests),
1 x (50 FS in Z2 + 50 FS in Z5 + 30 secs rest).

Warm Down:
1 x (50 FS in Z2 + 50 Choice in Z2).

Optional:
45 min strength training sessions

Allows for recovery whilst promoting adaptation to previous training stresses. Helps you get faster and keep injuries at bay.

Main Set:
3 mins in Z5 + 1 min 30 secs recovery in Z1,
2 mins in Z5 + 1 min recovery in Z1,
1 min in Z5 + 30 secs recovery in Z1.

Warm Down:
5 mins in Z2.

Total Distance: 800

Warm Up:
1 x (100 FS in Z2 + 20 secs rest),
1 x (50 Pull in Z2 + 50 Pull in Z4 + 20 secs rest).

Main Set:
1 x (100 FS in Z3 + 20 secs rest),
4 x (50 FS in Z4 + 30 sec rests),
4 x (50 FS in Z5 + 30 sec rests).

Warm Down:
1 x (100 Choice in Z2).

A nice steady run, mainly in Z2. This can be a jog/walk.
Ride at an easy/steady intensity, mainly in Z2 today. You should be able to chat at this intensity. This ride will improve your efficiency for using fat for fuel and increase your ability to transport oxygen to your working muscles.

Week 2 - 3:05hrs (Base Phase)

Coach’s Tip: Run heart rates are usually higher than bike heart rates. Train at the upper end of each training zone for your run and at the lower end for your bike.

Allows for recovery whilst promoting adaptation to previous training stresses. Helps you get faster and keep injuries at bay.

A nice steady run, mainly in Z2. This can be a jog/walk.

Total Distance: 800

Warm Up:
2 x (50 FS Breathe every 3 in Z2 + 15 sec rests),
2 x (50 Drill in Z2 + 15 sec rests),

Main Set:
3 x (50 FS in Z2 + 50 FS in Z3 + 15 sec rests),
1 x (100 Pull in Z2 + 100 FS in Z3 + 15 secs rest).

Warm Down:
1 x (100 Choice in Z2).

Optional:
45 min strength training sessions

Warm Up:
5 mins easy Z2.
5 x (10 secs in Z4-5 + 50 sec recoveries in Z2).

Main Set:
3 x (3 mins in upper Z4 + 2 min recoveries in low Z2).

Warm Down:
5 mins in Z2.

Total Distance: 800

Warm Up:
1 x (100 FS in Z2 + 15 secs rest),
1 x (100 Drill in Z2 + 15 secs rest),
1 x (100 Pull in Z2 + 15 secs rest).

Main Set:
1 x (100 Pull in Z2 + 20 secs rest),
1 x (100 FS in Z3 + 25 secs rest),
1 x (100 Pull in Z2 + 20 secs rest),
1 x (100 FS in Z3 + 25 secs rest).

Warm Down:
1 x (50 Choice in Z2 + 50 FS in Z2).

A steady run, mainly in Z2. You should be able to chat at this intensity. This is your long run for the week and it will progress in duration. They will gradually build your endurance.

Weeks 3-12 Available In Our FREE PDF Plans Below

Simply view our plans below to download your FREE training plan in a handy, printable PDF format today. They are available in Beginner, Intermediate AND Advanced versions in both 8- and 12-week lengths.

This plan moves from the Base Phase through to the Build Phase, Peak Phase and finally a Race Taper Week, while every fourth week is an Active Recovery Week. All our plans are designed to give you the best chance of success for your target event – while still making sure you have quality time available for your family, friends and career. Happy training!

Should I Use An Online Sprint Triathlon Plan?

Online training plans are for athletes who don’t feel the need for a personal coach, but who still want the structure and planning of an expertly-written training program. Research has shown that you are twice as likely to reach your goals if you train with a structured plan.

  • Our premium plans also come with free email coach support!

For a beginner who has some recent background in fitness or sport, we suggest you give yourself at least 12 weeks to get fit and ready for a sprint triathlon. The sooner you start, the more time you have to build up your fitness gradually. Fitness adaptations take weeks and months to occur, rather than days.

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About Phil Mosley

5 Stars from 182 reviews

As an athlete and parent, I know how challenging it can be to train effectively for endurance events. Being a certified coach with over 20 years’ experience, the biggest challenge is balancing my client’s training with their lifestyle…

And that’s why I started MyProCoach™ – to offer the world’s most comprehensive range of online training plans, all designed to help you enjoy the same success that my athletes and I have, while still making sure you have quality time for your family, friends and career (read 100+ detailed reviews here). You can also hear from me in a series of 6 short explainer videos below:

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Our Sprint Triathlon Plans (6-40 Weeks)

WITH FREE EMAIL COACH SUPPORT

We use TrainingPeaks to deliver your plan – the world’s most popular endurance coaching platform. Free to use, TrainingPeaks is an online calendar that lets you record, track and analyze your training sessions. 

It has a host of great features allowing you to get as in-depth as you like, including the ability to export your workouts to your training devices (Garmin, TrainerRoad etc) and follow them in real time. 

TrainingPeaks enables us to set you in-depth training plans in a way that other formats cannot. Phil Mosley is a Certified Coach and one of the best-selling coaches on the platform.

We want to provide an affordable and effective training solution, including email coach support for any questions you may have.

Our Certified coaching team are on hand to answer any questions during the first use of your plan, plus a bonus 3 months after its completion. During checkout, please also share your email so I can send you a series of 5 helpful emails to get you started.

As you can understand, some limits apply, like personalisation or analysis of your training, but for anything else relevant to your plan, we would love to help. You also have full access to our online help centre, with videos and articles to help you train effectively.

We have a huge range of plans that enables you to select one that best meets your goals, schedule and ability. If you’re not sure, we’d strongly recommend you read through our popular help centre article on this topic, or read on below for a quick overview.

Length of Plan
For the best outcome, count back from your “A” target race date (or use an online calculator) and simply choose a plan to fill that gap (you can still work in other, smaller races during your plan). Note that longer plans start easier and progress more gradually than shorter plans. The body responses best to constant, gradual progression with regular recovery periods, and that’s exactly what our plans are designed to give you!

Level of Plan
Choosing the correct level will help you get the most out of your plan. Generally, if you’ve never done this event before or currently train up to a few times per week, you might consider a Beginner plan. Alternatively, if you’ve done this event many times before or currently train 5+ times a week, you might consider an Advanced plan.

But don’t worry too much – we also let you swap the level for free within 14 days of purchase, if you find it too easy/hard!

Click here to read the full article in our help centre or feel free to get in touch if you’d like further guidance.

Certainly! Our training plans allow you to easily swap a few days around each week to suit your availability. Or you can swap out a session, to attend a similar group workout instead. That’s fine. If you opt for Training Peaks Premium (from $9.92 per month) you can even drag & drop your workouts onto different days. We give a few recommendations on how to best do this in our help centre.

And you can also train for multiple events! Our training plans guide you up to your target “A” race, but it’s also good to include some “B or C” races along the way. Our help centre goes through the exact steps you should take to enable you to get full benefit, without detracting from your key focus.

Trial Us With Our FREE TASTER Plans! (8- And 12-Week PDFs Only)

  • No coach support, personal intensity zones or tracking software

Beginner (6-40 wks)

Perfect in your first season
3-6 hrs per week, across 5-7 workouts
  • Premium, flexible plan
  • Intuitive tracking software
  • Help centre & FAQ support
  • Email access to coach
  • From just $3.48/week!

Intermediate (6-40 wks)

For seasoned triathletes
4-7 hrs per week, across 7-9 workouts
  • Premium, flexible plan
  • Intuitive tracking software
  • Help centre & FAQ support
  • Email access to coach
  • From just $3.48/week!

Advanced (6-40 wks)

Slash your race-times
7-14 hrs per week, across 9-11 workouts
  • Premium, flexible plan
  • Intuitive tracking software
  • Help centre & FAQ support
  • Email access to coach
  • From just $3.48/week!

Over 40? Compare these with our Masters Sprint Tri plans ▸

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FEEDBACK FROM MY SPRINT TRIATHLON CLIENTS

First of all a big thank you. I followed your sprint triathlon training plan and I beat my personal best by seven minutes!
Valentino Oriolo - May 2014
Sprint Triathlon
I’ve followed several of your training plans and really enjoy them. Last Sunday was the first time I’ve repeated a race and was pleased to see my time come down from 1:37 last year to 1:27 (400m / 24km / 5km.)
Jason James - June 2017
Sprint Triathlon
Thanks for all the guidance. Whatever happens at the World Championships, I have really enjoyed this season. I am British Champion and I'm in better shape than I could ever have hoped if I had just muddled along with my old regime." ​-
Alistair Asher - Sep 2015
Sprint Triathlon

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