Half-Triathlon Training for Beginners


Blending the three sports of swimming, biking and running into one competition forms what is referred to as a “triathlon.” Triathlons can be various distances, with one of the most well-known distances called the Ironman. Ironman triathlons are one of the toughest sporting competitions, making it difficult for beginning triathletes to successfully compete. Half-triathlons, however, offer a place to start for triathletes and typically consist of a 1.9 km swim, 90 km ride and 21.1 km run.


The main function of a half-triathlon training program is to train and prepare the mind, body and equipment for every aspect of the race. During the training program, you spend time working on the mechanics of each sport along with improving stamina, power, endurance and strength. Other key components of the race that are improved during training are the transitions between sports and your overall nutrition.

Time Frame

Training for a half-triathlon takes a commitment to stay dedicated to the training program. Most training programs will last at least 12 weeks, with extended programs lasting up to 18 weeks. You spend about two days each week focusing on an individual sport. For example, you perform swim workouts on Monday and Thursday, bike workouts on Tuesday and Friday and run workouts on Wednesday and Saturday. Workouts can be adjusted to fit your schedule and improve weaknesses. Brendan Downey from TriFuel.com recommends that more is not always better when it comes to training for a half-triathlon. Give your body time to rest and recover between workouts and increase the intensity gradually.


Perform swim workouts in a local swimming pool or lake. Start with short distances such as 10 to 15 m and slowly increase the distance throughout the program. Downey says the bike portion of the race is the easiest to prepare for. Bike workouts can consist of mountain bike rides, long distance trail rides or an indoor cycling class at the local gym. Run workouts are designed to help you finish the half-triathlon without walking.


Changing the basic features of a workout can help to add variety to the training program and increase improvements. Interval training--consisting of alternating periods of work and rest--can deliver performance benefits by improving your anaerobic threshold. Strength training improves your overall strength, resulting in more powerful strokes in the water and bike and stronger strides during the run. Brick workouts combine two sports into a training session and provide an opportunity to work on transitions. The transitions from the swim to bike (T1) and bike to run (T2) are included in the overall time of the race.


One of the major considerations for a half-triathlon is nutrition during training, pre-race and during the race. Nancy Clark, Board Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics, recommends eating whole foods in their natural state and adding a variety of at least three kinds of nutrient-dense foods at each meal. Experiment with different foods during training to determine your pre-race nutrition; it should consist of foods that won't upset your stomach.