Beginner Triathlete advice

Hi guys, I’m a 28M, 68kg, 175cm, complete beginner triathlete looking for some advice. I signed up for an Olympic Distance Triathlon as my first event (end of March 2021). Long term goal is to progress to a HIM maybe a year later, and then eventually a full IM (not in a hurry).


Run: Doing 2/3 zone 2 runs a week (140-150 bpm), 7-9km each at 6 min/km pace. Lactate threshold at about 5:11 min/km, 171 bpm.

Bike: Complete beginner, bought a road bike 3 months ago (Specialized Allez Sport 19 with clip-on aero bars), been doing a zwift beginner ftp program on a Tacx Flow Smart Trainer. Managed to increase FTP from 166w (2,3w/kg) to now 6 weeks later an FTP of 197w (2,9w/kg). Looking to start a better program in TrainerRoad to take me to the next level.

Swim: Complete beginner. Been doing some open water swims (700-900m each). I can swim about 200-300m without stoping (2-2:30 min/100m). Also been doing some drills to improve breathing. Pools in the area should only open in September/October so this is the best I can do right now.

What I’m thinking:

  • Do the plan the “Plan Builder” created for me, Olympic Triathlon Mid Volume (Base-Build-Specialty-Build-Specialy). Aim to increase FTP to around 3.4-3.6w/kg by March.

  • Do the Rides and Runs, and supplement with OWS whenever I can.

  • Wait for the pools to open in September/October and start swimming lessons.

What do you think? Would you do anything differently?


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Run consistently…almost every day, if you can. Short, slow runs are just fine. As a beginner, don’t worry too much about intervals, etc. Just run and run frequently.

You need to build the base for the pounding that running brings…only running a few days a week is not sufficient.

I haven’t looked at the TR Tri plans but I feel pretty confident that they don’t have as much running (on a daily basis) as you should be doing.

Read up on the BarryP plan…lots of short runs, all at very easy pace. Slowly add distance as you go.

As for the bike, similar to the run, you need to build the aerobic base. Doing a structured plan is well and good (and should be done) but I would suggest at least one long ride / week in lieu of a structured workout.

On,y advice I can give you on swimming is get a swim coach ASAP…before you ingrain bad habits. Will probably be hard to do if pools ren’t open, but they should be able to help get you started.

Good luck!!


I am not of the opinion of the above. I would say only run 3 times/week running every day is the highway to injury, but you will get advocates for this in the same you will for dietary choices.

Consider reading some of the books by Joe Friel, a great Tri coach.

look at how much time you have to train, how many sessions you can commit to each week and split the sessions across the disciplines, with a possible extra session on your weaker discipline (possibly to the cost of a session in your stronger area)


If you are a beginner swimmer i would put most of the effort there to begin with. Swimming is the most difficult to learn and to master. It doesn’t come naturally and you really need to practice to correct any bad habit you might have. If you are consistent, running and biking you will get better as time goes on if you put time and effort.

In the other hand, swimming can get worse if you dont take care of it early.
Find a master group of an instructor to make sure you perfect your swim.
Take it from me. Im a terrible swimmer! like VERY VERY bad. It has cost me AG podium awards. (i am usually the last one out of the water…ALL AGES).


Thank you for the replies.

I’ve been looking for beginner Olympic Tri plans and most of them have 2 to 3 runs per week at the beginner level, and 3 to 4 in the intermediate/advanced levels, with a gradual progression over the programs (adding distance to the long runs and some speed work/intervals). This is the same in the TR plan.

I’m sticking to 2 to 3 easy runs a week for now, and follow the progression of the plan. I prefer to add intensity to the bike workouts, which have a much lower chance of injury, and some cross-training benefits to running.

As for the swim, I’m watching youtube videos to learn drills and I’m trying to perfect my technique, but it’s very difficult to progress with pools being closed and with no lessons available. I guess I could try to find a coach to give some private lessons in the OW, but I don’t know if that’s even possible, and the cost would probably be too high. I guess I’ll have to continue with the youtube videos and the ocasional beach swim, at least until September.


The problem is that is VERY (read impossible) to see what you are doing wrong UNLESS there is someone who knows looking at you and point the problems.

Some weeks ago a friend and I went to the pool and he was able to use hi go pro to film my free style stroke. We were able to id many areas of improvements. Up to that day, i could have swear i was doing everything by the book and correct.
Now, I am like starting from 0 when it comes to swimming. I had to relearn how to do the free style. It was quicker this time around than when i first started (in 2016). Today I did my fastest 50 ever…at a BLAZING speed of 47s! (coach had me at 45s). We did 3 50s at the pool to end the session. And my times were 50, 47 and 49. Last year at this point i was doing maybe 57 as my fastest!
So times are FINALLY coming down. But it took eyes on me to finally see improvements!


This is a common misconception…but it is simply incorrect. The type of running I am talking about includes very short runs for the majority of the week. Can be less than a mile…nothign more than a quick jog after a ride for many people. The pace is very easy, low Z2.

Such a running plan prevents injury, it does not cause injuries, especially for beginners.

For the OP, please see link below:;search_string=runtraining;#1612485


Because BarryP says the BarryP method works … that’s a surprise :laughing:

Even when training for 100m ultra’s I don’t run more than 5 days per week
I have done running challenges where I run every day for a month … but I would not recommend it as a long term strategy.

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Hi there!
There’s a lot of different approaches you can take, and at the end of the day it all comes down to what you’re logistically able to do within a week. It seems like you have a pretty solid plan in place already and committing to a structured training plan probably puts you miles ahead of other beginners at this point :slight_smile:
Personally I think 2-3 runs is enough as long as you make sure it’s a gradual progression towards higher mileage/intensity etc- and honestly the olympic distance doesn’t demand big mileage IMO. The TR plans start off with a lot of hill sprints and strides which should help your technique and durability. If you ever have extra time after a ride a 10-15 minute run can be really valuable- the ability to run fast off the bike is super important in an olympic distance (more so than long course) and this is something beginners often struggle with.

With regards to the swim, I’ve found frequency to be the biggest driver of improvement. Again this is subject to what you can actually commit to, but even a super short, easy swim that keeps the muscle memory happening is a good investment of time even if doesn’t do a huge amount for your fitness. While you’re in the open water i’d take the opportunity to focus on some OWS-specific skills over drills-sighting, swimming straight, drafting if you can enlist a friend etc. When you start doing lessons later on the instructor will assign drills that are relevant/helpful to you individually.
As an above poster suggested, filming yourself can be really helpful- there are also a number of online swim coaches who you can pay to analyze your stroke if that’s of interest to you.


Thank you so much for all the feedback.

About the swim, I’m aware that the best approach would be to have a coach and/or swimming lessons in a pool. But that’s not an option right now, so it’s a question of doing something vs doing nothing at all until pools reopen.

I think I find value in doing 1 to 2 sessions in the water per week, to get comfortable and practice a few key aspects that I know I can work on (breathing, balance, coordination, etc). I wont get very far with this approach, but it’s better than nothing.


On running 6 days a week vs. 3-4 times a week: Like @WildWill said, there are tons of opinions on both sides just like nutrition. And just like nutrition people respond differently, where for some the 6 days is great and others it will cause injury.

I’ve personally found great success this year with the BarryP plan after around 15 years of more traditional running plans. Maybe that was what I should have been doing all along. Maybe my body needed a new stimulus. Maybe my 15 year base prepared me for taking on the BarryP plan. In the end we just don’t know.

My suggestion would be to pick something that seems to resonate with you and what kind of athlete you think you are and take copious notes about how you’re feeling. If you find yourself injured, plateauing, or just feeling crappy, change it up after you give that philosophy a fair shake (Maybe a year or two even).

Something like triathlon is a very long process of self-discovery. Welcome to the club.


Follow the TR triathlon plan. Low or medium volume based on your time commitments and choose the higher one if you know you have decent sleep and nutrition as well.

The reason I say this is because spending time guessing and changing things is the worst. Choosing something laid out and just sticking to it is often the most efficient way of getting better and not burning out.

Combining plans (i.e separate running and TR biking), unless your experienced and know what parts of each plan need to be tweaked in order to combine them effectively and manage fatigue is actually really hard and something I’ve realised takes time to learn.

Save yourself the stress and possibility of getting it wrong and just follow one of these plans as best you can. :slight_smile:

Originally I used TR for bike, a running plan, and my own swim plan from online (as I thought TR would be best for the bike but other plans would be more effective for the swim/run). I ended up too fatigued, slightly injured, not sure when to put in brick workouts etc. Then I just switched to the TRI plan and I ended completing my own sprint tri (as my event was cancelled) in a really impressive time. Im now signed up for a HIM and will just be using plan builder.


Very great point, and something I tend to forget as somebody with more experience. Until you have a good baseline and understanding of how your body reacts to different training stimulus, sticking with one full complete plan is your best bet.


Great advise.
I was doing exactly this!
I though i knew what i was doing with running (I was just a runner for years). Turns out i had no idea what i was doing. Once i started following the TR plan everything changed. Might not look challenging at first but as the plan progresses it get harder and harder!

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@Michael_Tate @Power13 I checked out the BarryP plan you shared. For what I can understand it’s just a different way to redistribute the weekly volume. For instance, instead of 3x 45min runs, you would do 3x 15min recovery runs, 2x 30 min workout runs and one 45 min “long run”. Unless you increase the volume, but with different volumes you can’t really compare different approaches.

@Mitch54321 I’ll follow your advice. I’m just going to stick to TR plan and I’m sure I’ll see a good progress. Newbie gains will help, for sure :grin:


Yeah, that is exactly what I am saying… :roll_eyes:

Hello! I’m not a triathlete, but I do have a lot of experience as a swimmer and used to coach a bit. There’s a thread with swim technique videos somewhere, and if you post there and tag me, I’d be happy to offer any feedback that I can!


Exactly…it does not increase your run volume unless you want it to. What it does is distribute it more consistently and frequently, allowing you to become a stronger runner.

Let’s say you are running 20 miles a week across three runs…2x6 mile runs on Tues / Thurs and one 8 mile run on Saturday. You would keep your weekly distance the same and just reallocate it across the entire week. For 20 miles, you would have 3 - 2 mile runs, 2- 4 mile runs and 1-6 mile run. For tri training, I broke it up as follows:

Mon - rest
Tues - Swim AM / do 4 mile run in afternoon
Weds - Ride AM / 2 mile run
Thursday - Swim AM / 4 mile run
Friday - Ride / 2 mile run
Sat - Long Swim / 6 mile run
Sun - Long ride / 2 mile run

I would often do active recovery on Monday as the season progressed, either an hor easy on the bike or another 2 mile run. Also, I would begin to add some intensity to the Tues / Thursday runs as I gained fitness.

Due to injuries, I started doing this at very short distances. My short runs were .25 miles…and yes, that decimal point is not a typo. I’d run a 1/4 mile 3 days a week…once I started running consistently, I stopped getting injured.


Never seen that word before used on my plans… what does it means!? :thinking:

My schedule is…
M - Swim/ 30 min recovery run ( < 140 hr)
T - Bike WO
W - Swim / Run WO (around 45 - 50 min)
Th - Bike WO / Brick Run (may or may not be a WO…usually less than 60 min)
F - Swim / Recovery ride (1 hr)
S - Bike WO / Brick Run (may or may not be a WO…usually less than 60 min, some times short tempo run)
Su - MLR (between 60 and 1:50)

All are done in the morning…because running in FL in the afternoon is a huge NO NO

Also…dont worry too much about millage. Running by time is way better! So stick to it as much as you can.


Welcome @jmdcovas

You’ve already seen there are a few different approaches, long and short is that at the start almost any plan consistently followed will achieve results and get you through an ok
olympic triathlon. Even inconsistent, as I am, you can make it work.

TR plans are bike focussed, which sounds like they suit you and the pool situation. As a beginner Id pick one Low Volume and ride outside once a week too to build up those bike handling skillz.

Structured training can become mentally tough to keep at, so I usually have a break and start “fresh” in January for a March/April race. So an alternative might be to do sweet spot base low volume for variety and while swimming is light.

Id agree that when it comes to spending money on triathlon, a swim coach is probably the best investment for performance but also for confidence and enjoyment on race day.

Have fun :slightly_smiling_face: