Olympic Triathlon Training Plan

Triathlon sport collage. Man, woman running, swimming, biking for competition race

Whether you’re new to triathlon, looking to improve your times or distance, Olympic triathlon training plan and guides are invaluable.  You can consult an experienced trainer or triathlete right from your home and hopefully, this will help you to get some idea in this regard.

One of the first things triathletes should do at the start of their training season finds some sort of plan to structure their training and racing season.  The options are seemingly endless.  So here we try to save you some time and help you find the best training plans or guides from the go.

Investing in a triathlon training plan can be a great way to get your own training in, but it’s also a great gift for the triathlete in your life.

The main thing you need to know here is that a 1500 meter (1640 yards) swim, a 40k (25 miles) bike ride, and a 10k (6.2 miles) run is an Olympic triathlon, which is a short distance triathlon.  The Olympic triathlon training plan combines the three traditional triathlons of swimming, cycling, and running.  That’s twice as long as the triathlon’s shorter distance cousin.  It remains a popular distance for beginners as each discipline is technically manageable and can be timed in the field on race day.

And the Olympic distance is a reasonable next step in your endurance journey if you have prior experience in all three triathlons (swim, bike, and run) or if you are an experienced triathlete.

What is an Olympic Distance Triathlon?

Similar to the sprint distance, this is a popular introduction to triathlon.  Because it’s short, requires no preparation, and makes for a fun morning run with friends.  The top athletes will cross the finish line in about two hours.  Weekend warriors complete the course in three hours, while less qualified individuals need more time.

A good rule of thumb in this regard is to roughly double the distance from sprint to Olympic distance, half (70.3) and full distance as you progress through your triathlon experience and want to challenge yourself (140.6).

Training for the Olympic Triathlon: General Program Elements

If you want to finish this event on top form and sustain your triathlon career or start Olympic triathlon training there are some guidelines you should follow.  We intend to make this game fun and enjoyable for years to come.

First, of course, to prepare for your first Olympic distance event, you will need to complete swimming, cycling, and running training sessions.  For your first competition, you must undergo about 8 weeks of serious training.  An Olympic triathlon training program of 12, 16, or 24 weeks, depending on your time constraints and the length of the race, will almost always result in increased fitness.  A better level of fitness leads to more fun on race days.  That’s because you don’t always apply too much force to it.

How much training is needed to finish an Olympic distance triathlon?

If you previously believed that training for a triathlon required a lot of time, you’re in luck because it doesn’t.  Competing in an Olympic distance triathlon does not require a million hours of training per week.  The reality is, that if you want to finish an Olympic distance triathlon, you need to train 5-8 hours a week.  If you train 8 to 10 hours a week, you’ll be able to finish strong.  If you train for more than 10 hours, you will quickly become known as a fast local triathlete.

How does a triathlete prepare for an Olympic-distance race?

More is not necessarily better when it comes to training structure.

  • According to studies, your training should consist of 80% low-intensity activity and 20% high-intensity work for the best results.
  • Building your base through off-season low-intensity training enables you to hit harder during the racing season.
  • The goal is to broaden your base during the recovery phase and train at a reduced intensity to let your body adjust to the long endurance day of a triathlon.


For people to feel comfortable with their running intensity, running speed is crucial during training. It’s usually more until it’s gone, and “until it’s not” is important. It is best to practice more until you start to falter. Because of this, recovery is important for your training.

There are various strategies for recovering in between workouts. The following should be given priority:


low-intensity days or completely rest days; and

good nutrition.

In addition to planning time for recovery and finding a balance between activity and rest, you need to focus on stress.  That is the non-training demands and responsibilities of your life.  It is your responsibility to recognize when they are preventing you from recovering sufficiently to increase your fitness.

Mental Fitness

A challenge is a triathlon. Because they are challenging, a lot of individuals seek them out. At the same time, forcing ourselves to leave our comfort zone is against our natural tendencies. Mental toughness is the capacity to do so.

The more comfortable you are with difficult physical and emotional conditions, the easier it will be for you to persevere through them. Additionally, you’ll be more motivated to push yourself to the finish line on race day.

Triathlon Olympic Training

Let’s discuss the details of your triathlon distance, including your 1500m swim, 40k bike ride, and 10k run, as well as the associated training.

Your focus should be on challenging workouts to prepare for the race.  Assuming another successful off-season of core development.  Long runs and cycling are essential to building the kind of endurance needed for an Olympic distance event.  After all, an event usually only takes three hours to complete.


Crawl swimming, isolated vector swimmer low polygonal illustration

Here I advise giving maximum importance to comfort and basic swimming skills.  That is, after dealing with speed and fitness, the body should be given some rest.

That is, assume you can already swim 1500 meters in a single effort because you are reading about an Olympic distance triathlon.  Then you should focus on two things to increase your physical condition and swimming speed:

period;  and


The pool will need to be improved over time.  If this is an area you struggle with, realize that it will take effort and persistence to improve.  If you want to get the most out of your weekly swimming sessions you must swim for a specific reason.  Don’t swim aimlessly without considering your form, intensity level, or exercise plan.

Triathletes who have trouble swimming complain of “sinking legs.”  It’s one of their most common complaints.  They move more slowly as a result of the increased drag and energy expenditure required to move through the water.

What is the correct technique for creating a floating body position? Here are a few useful hints:

  • To counteract buoyancy, gently press down into the water with your chest.
  • To make the legs appear higher as a result of pressing the chest down, slightly tighten the core from the belly button to the butt cheeks down and around.
  • Kick as softly as you can so that the heel only just touches the water’s surface.
  • By keeping the legs directly behind the body and kicking into a small channel, you may minimize drag.
  • To further lessen the pull, gently point the fingers while keeping them behind the body.

In other words, when you master these concepts, you will look this: your heels, butt cheeks, and back of your head are all on the water’s surface. Directly at the pool’s bottom, you can see. Your legs are in a 1.5-foot-wide passageway. When you breathe, you occasionally turn your head just enough to appear to be doing so (like when a dolphin comes to the surface to breathe).


You can start with just two bike workouts per week when training for an Olympic triathlon:

  • A single lengthy bike ride should increase to 60–70 kilometers.
  • Increase intervals from 30 seconds to 2.5 minutes in one tough workout. On your longer rides, you can gradually increase your pace from 2.5-minute intervals to a 25-minute run pace once you feel at ease there.


Sprinting woman, abstract low poly running woman illustration, isolated geometric vector drawing. Rear view

Running training is a somewhat difficult process.  But it’s crucial because having a terrible time on race day can undo all your good training.

Because it’s similar to weightlifting in other ways, running gets your heart rate up more than cycling or swimming.  When your heart rate is often elevated, stress builds up various hormones, increasing the risk of injury and illness from overtraining.  Stress hormones make it difficult to perform well during your speed training.  It prevents you from pushing hard enough to generate a positive training response.

All of this means that most of your running training should be done at a low intensity.  It doesn’t matter what the speed is here.

The goal of competing at a lower intensity doesn’t make you that much faster;  By staying in the right zone it builds more mitochondria than you do.  The goal here is to build durability.  You will be able to continue in that straight running or walking style for long periods.

And while you should keep most of your runs low-intensity, that doesn’t mean you should skip the hard stuff.  Early in your training, you should incorporate sprints so that you can develop the neuromuscular ability to turn your legs quickly and unlock the ability to run faster.

During the first few weeks of an Olympic triathlon training plan, you can incorporate several 10- to 30-second bursts to recruit large muscle fibers.  Then you can transition into shorter intervals from 2 minutes up, and then longer intervals of 7 minutes, depending on your running pace.

Close to your race, and especially in the last 6 to 8 weeks, you should include high-intensity efforts anywhere from 20 to 40 minutes above your long steady tempo race pace.

For your long runs, you should make sure to gradually increase the distance by 10% each week until you reach 14-16 km.  This long-distance training can make that 10k race look easy on you.

Recommended plans to prepare for an Olympic Triathlon

As we mentioned above, the specific training plans we suggest for those of you looking to prepare for an Olympic triathlon Base, Olympic Triathlon Build, and Olympic Distance Triathlon plans.  Here are the details of the three volumes of plans that we present to you below:

Olympic Triathlon Plans

Olympic Base

Low Volume

6 weeks

  • Swim: 46-61 Min/Wk
  • Bike: 126-152 TSS/Wk
  • Run: 70-105 Min/Wk

Mid Volume

6 weeks

  • Swim: 92-116 Min/Wk
  • Bike: 154-208 TSS/Wk
  • Run: 125-175 Min/Wk

High Volume

6 weeks

  • Swim: 161-191 Min/Wk
  • Bike: 231-359 TSS/Wk
  • Run: 155-195 Min/Wk

Olympic Build

Low Volume

6 weeks

  • Swim: 53-72 Min/Wk
  • Bike: 157-312 TSS/Wk
  • Run: 70-125 Min/Wk

Mid Volume

6 weeks

  • Swim: 113-152 Min/Wk
  • Bike: 251-314 TSS/Wk
  • Run: 125-175 Min/Wk

High Volume

6 weeks

  • Swim: 192-236 Min/Wk
  • Bike: 304-376 TSS/Wk
  • Run: 150-235 Min/Wk

Olympic Specialty

Low Volume

8 weeks

  • Swim: 54-79 Min/Wk
  • Bike: 80-202 TSS/Wk
  • Run: 55-140 Min/Wk

Mid Volume

8 weeks

  • Swim: 66-164 Min/Wk
  • Bike: 134-334 TSS/Wk
  • Run: 85-200 Min/Wk

High Volume

8 weeks

  • Swim: 125-256 Min/Wk
  • Bike: 194-431 TSS/Wk
  • Run: 116-260 Min/Wk

Why are these plans recommended for Olympic triathletes?

There are many reasons to recommend these Olympic triathlon plans.  You’ll notice that the inclines we mention in the Sprint Triton are set about the plans for the Olympic Triathlon offered by.  Accordingly, we have decided to include them here once again, explaining it further.

20 weeks of progressive training plans

As with each of the training plans outlined above, our Olympic triathlon plans are step-by-step to help you cultivate a strong foundation of fitness, build your muscular endurance and fine-tune your training for your specific event.  To prepare for your Olympic-distance event, you’ll need 6 weeks of the base, 6 weeks of build-up, and 8 weeks of special training.

3 training plan volumes to choose from

At this point, it will inform you how to choose the right training plan volume for you.  Each new triathlon training plan has a low, medium and high volume plan option so that every athlete, regardless of their personal fitness level, can find a plan that is manageable yet challenging enough to see big results.

Understand your training workouts

A triathlon training plan includes core workouts that help build your running, swimming, and cycling endurance.  Most training plans include some other specific exercises to prepare you for race day.

Fitness-Building Runs and Rides: These workouts make up the bulk of your training and are designed to make sure you can physically cover the distance of each leg of your triathlon.  The purpose of these exercises is to slowly increase your fitness while building your confidence in your abilities.

Brick Workout: A brick workout is a back-to-back combination of two types of training: bike/run or swim/bike.  The most challenging part of a triathlon is the transition from bike to run.  So most triathlons focus on this part of your training.  (This exercise is introduced for the feeling in your legs when you start running after a long bike ride.) A typical brick workout involves cycling distance changes.  But the run is short.  A brick workout will help both your body and mind get used to running through that first miserable mile or two.

Open water swims: Most triathlons involve open water swimming in a river, lake, bay, or ocean first, rather than a pool swim.  While you may want to train in a pool, it’s important to train outside of the pool before the competition.  Swimming in dark water without lane markings and “seeing” the buoys marking the course requires practice.  This can be improved by trying to swim at least 15 minutes a week in a local pool.  Here you have to make sure that you are allowed to swim.  Of course, be sure to bring a friend and acquaintance here.  Never go swimming alone in open water.

The best triple trainer options

If you have the budget and the time, finding a coach can help you achieve your triathlon goals.  Not only will they be able to customize your training for your goals, but they’ll also have advice on things like your triathlon nutrition and rest strategies.

Most coaches are local, and the USA Triathlon Triathlon offers a coach search service for triathletes.  You must be a USAT member here.  But it’s not expensive and membership can get you discounts on many races throughout the year.

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