12-Week Triathlon Training Plan

Are you interested in entering a triathlon race?

If so, you’re in the right place.

No matter your experience level, you can always do with a bit of extra knowledge to give you more of an edge.

Triathlons are unique because not everyone competing has the goal of coming first. Most people have the aim of simply finishing, which is incredibly tough. And that’s probably why you’re here – to gain some useful info on how to prepare and perform well.

Without a doubt, your training program will be one of the biggest factors that determines the results on race day.

So, if you’re curious to learn more about how to give yourself the best chance of finishing a triathlon, and even placing well, take a look below.

Consider Your Experience Level

When it comes to a solid 12-week triathlon training plan, it should be divided up into different sections. This involves getting things off to a start and increasing the intensity over the coming weeks.

So, if you’re a complete beginner, the beginning weeks will give you the chance to determine your base fitness levels. The intensity doesn’t start ramping up until the middle portion of training.

The middle section is the toughest part. These are the weeks where the overall volume and intensity will be increasing weekly. Having said that, since the intensity is higher, you do also get some time to recover as well.

Training programs can vary wildly depending on the person and distance. But what this triathlon training plan will provide you with is an improvement in your fitness. The result is a more effective finishing time.

The last few weeks prior to the race day begins to ease the gas in terms of intensity and volume.

The Swimming Part 

You’ll find one of the hardest parts to the whole triathlon is the swimming part. This is because it can become very easy to accidentally lose sight of your end target. The outcome ends up with miles being added on to your trek.

So, the swimming section requires more than just an improvement in your speed and stamina. It also means you have to be vigilante to stay on track as much as possible – which is hard to do in the franticness of race day.

Most competitors opt for the front crawl or freestyle strokes. These are the swimming methods that provide the most speed. So, during your training, try to focus on either one of those, or both.

What a Triathlon Involves 

If you are a complete beginner to triathlon races, this section is for you.

Triathlons are started with swimming, followed by biking, and ended with running. Therefore, you need to prepare yourself to get onto a bike in wet clothes. After this, you need to be able to transition smoothly into the running phase to save time.

Between each type of race, there’s a period of transition. This is where you should change your shoes in between the swimming and biking, as well as in between the biking and running.

However, your shoes are the only thing that you can change. The outfit must stay the same throughout.

12-Week Training Plan 

Since you want to avoid burning out, we’ve put together a simple but effective 12-week training plan that has you practicing three days a week.

Week 1

Day 1: 30-minute swim

Day 2: 30-minute bike

Day 3: 20-minute run

Week 3

Day 1: 40-minute swim

Day 2: 50-minute bike

Day 3: 30-minute run

Week 5

Day 1: Swim race distance (not time) 

Day 2: Bike race distance (not timed)

Day 3: Run race distance (not timed)

Week 7

Day 1: Swim for 40 mins – 10 min intervals

Day 2: Bike 60 mins (not timed)

Day 3: Run 30 minutes – 1-minute jog, 30 second sprint intervals

Week 9

Day 1: Swim for 30 minutes

Day 2: Bike for 40 minutes

Day 3: Run for 35 minutes

Week 11

Day 1: Swim race distance

Day 2: Bike for 30 minutes

Day 3: Run for 20 minutes

Week 2

Day 1: 30-minute swim 

Day 2: 40-minute bike

Day 3: 25-minute run

Week 4

Day 1: 40-minute swim

Day 2: Bike race distance (not timed)

Day 3: Run race distance (not timed)

Week 6

Day 1: Swim race distance (not time)  

Day 2: Bike race distance (not timed)

Day 3: Run race distance (not timed)

Week 8

Day 1: Swim for 40 mins – 10 min intervals

Day 2: Bike race distance (not timed)

Day 3: Run race distance (not timed)

Week 10

Day 1: Swim for 30 minutes

Day 2: Bike race distance (not timed)

Day 3: Run race distance (not timed)

Week 12

Day 1: Swim for 25 minutes

Day 2: Bike for 20 minutes – run for 20 minutes

Day 3: Race day!

What Do You Need to Start?

So, now that you’ve got a better insight into what the training is like, you may also be wondering what kind of gear you need.

One of the aspects that makes triathlons so great is that the equipment required I very simple.

The essentials include:

  • check
  • check
  • check
    Running shoes
  • check
  • check
    Swim cap
  • check

And if it’s a sunny day, sunglasses would be useful too!


If you were feeling nervous about completing a triathlon, whether it be for the first or third time, you should know that it’s completely normal.

However, it’s important to ensure you enjoy the day. When it comes to the actual day of the event, having a positive mindset can do wonders.

Have confidence in knowing that you’ve put the hard work in by using the 12-week training plan guide above. All you have to do now is put what you’ve been doing for weeks into practice.

Again, the most important thing is that you enjoy it! And remember, there aren’t many people who can call themselves a triathlete – it’s a major achievement.

Hey everyone, I’m Sandra Ryan and I’ve been contributing to this website for almost a year now.

My professional background is in finance where I work at a small bank outside Austin, TX, as an accounting technician. I’m still gradually working towards becoming an accountant by attending night classes, but my real passion is sport.

I’ve been involved in martial arts since I was about 8 years old when I had to figure out ways to outdo my 3 older brothers who were in constant WWE style fights. Nothing ever happened more than bruises and the occasional cut, but once I started Taekwondo I just couldn’t get enough.

I have won many state championships over the years, but have started to take a bit of step back from competitive fighting. Mainly down to a few leg strain injuries that basically mean that I cannot perform at my absolute best anymore.

My hunger for competition has been replaced by running marathons and in the past 2 years also competing in triathlons. So far I have completed 7 marathons and 2 triathlons and my aim is to complete an Ironman in the next couple of years.

When the opportunity came up to contribute to a website with training tips I immediately loved the idea. You’ll see a lot of my blog posts on triathlon training, and if you have questions, just leave some comments.

We will be happy to hear your thoughts

      Leave a reply