Triathlon for Beginners: Endurance training for the first triathlon season

What training content triathlon beginners work optimally, you will learn in this article. In addition, we will discuss how the training of basic stamina can be made effective and varied even in unfavorable weather conditions and limited leisure time.

Recommended distances for beginners in triathlon: sprint and short distance (Olympic distance)

The majority of Neutriathleten should have opted for one of the German triathlon competitions on the sprint distance or short distance in the summer months. These competition distances with a race duration of over one hour already require a high level of aerobic performance.

Duration or length of the sprint distance during triathlon

500 meters swimming, 20 kilometers cycling, 5 kilometers running

Duration or length of short distance in triathlon

1.5 km swimming, 40 km cycling, 10 km running

Requirement profile Triathlon competition


Already for the individual disciplines of triathlon you need a well-trained basic endurance. When swimming, try to maintain the crawl style over the selected competition distance. When cycling, the competition track should be able to cope with a high basic speed while maintaining sufficient reserves for the running section. Especially here, the fitness must be significantly greater by the preload compared to a pure running competition, which is started in a rested state.

Accordingly, the general basic stamina should be very good for triathletes. The body must be prepared during training to get through the long distance races as efficiently as possible. Certainly triathlon beginners have the greatest need for training here. But even more experienced triathletes choose extensive training forms during the preparation period, before you start with specific and more intensive training.

Training methods for beginners in cycling, running and swimming

To increase the general endurance performance and as a training method in the general preparation phase, the so-called permanent method in running and cycling has established itself as a very practicable form of training. The aim of this method should be to train at a constant load without interruption over the targeted training time.

Beginners should choose a duration that leads to a noticeable, but not too strong fatigue. This training goal should be achieved while running for 30-60 minutes. Longer runs are initially reserved for more experienced athletes. Even if you find the training load of a run over one hour subjectively pleasant, the burden in the weekly sum is then too high.

Bike training for triathlon beginners

On the other hand, in the case of cycling training, the duration of training may be significantly higher at the beginning and will be sufficient for a duration of between 90 and 180 minutes. Likewise, the targeted exercise area should be kept as constant as possible over the entire training period.

For stress control, performance diagnostics often indicate the maximum heart rate or heart rate ranges derived from formulas. For entry, such guidelines should be used only marginally. Listen to your body. The simple motto "Running without puffing" as a criterion for the right load intensity for the duration method is very practicable.

While the optimal load level on the bike can be dosed very well, the endurance run untrained athletes can tire very quickly, which does not allow a longer running time. This is where walking pauses help, which are initially spread longer and more often in continuous running and then with increasing efficiency should be shorter and shorter, until they are no longer necessary.

Swimming training for triathlon beginners

In swimming training, mastering the longest possible distances takes a back seat at a constant pace. Here it is important to acquire the cleanest possible crawler technique, which makes it possible to cope with increasingly long stretches with an efficient and energy-saving swimming style.

For this purpose, the interval form is chosen, the pauses of which guarantee that the center of technology is not lost due to premature fatigue or monotony. Start with short intervals of 25 or 50 meters, which you cover evenly in the crawl style. Each interval is followed by a short, approximately one minute, passive pause at the edge of the pool until the next crawling interval is started.

Training plan for Änfänger Triathlon

TuesdayRun, easy endurance or driving game, 45-60 min
WednesdaySwimming 1 hour, short technical and interval series
FridayRun, easy endurance, 50-70 min
SaturdaySwimming 1 hour, short technical and interval series

Optional: wheel, 10 times 1 min brisk speed on the roller or the ergometer

SundayBike, easy pace, 2-3 hours

Adaptations to endurance training

The adaptations, ie the adaptive reactions of the body to the new and unusual training stimuli that affect it, affect many subsystems of the organism. Thus, among other things, the heart activity is significantly influenced. The increase in volume of the heart increases, among other things, the stroke volume. The heart muscle is also better supplied with oxygen and works more economically. The breath economy will increase by increasing the exchange area in the lungs, allowing more oxygen to be delivered into the blood per breath.

The blood volume can increase by endurance training by about 25%, which corresponds to an amount of 1-2 liters. This significant fluid increase overcompensates for the slight increase in the number of red blood cells responsible for oxygen transport in the blood, and improves blood flow characteristics. The muscles respond to the training stimulus with a denser capillarization. This means that the muscles are more permeated with blood vessels and thus can be supplied with more oxygen. Within the muscle cells, the number of mytochondria required for the supply of energy increases.

Triathlon training: how often?

In addition to these exemplary adaptations of the body, a variety of other effects within the muscle cells or the hormone balance can be observed. Practically, however, the athlete will find out after a while that the training session can suddenly be put back faster with the same effort, longer training rides are possible, the fatigue after training is much lower and overall well-being increases.

While the muscles adapt very quickly to the training, the passive musculoskeletal system (bones, ligaments, tendons) reacts only very slowly. There is a risk of overload if the training is over-boosted by the euphoria of the initial successes. It is therefore advisable to initially increase the frequency of training and to complete several shorter runs or bike rides, as opposed to a few very long training sessions.

Training planning for beginners in triathlon

Our book tip for all triathletes

Now you know which training methods in the individual disciplines as beginners in winter training promise the greatest success. But the right combination of the three triathlon disciplines in training can also hold imponderables. The wrong sequence of tiring training sessions in addition to the burden on the musculoskeletal system, the risk of an additional excessive demand of the entire organism, which can cause infections, especially in the wet-cool winter and spring months.

Make sure you have enough rest during the weeks of stress and avoid having two very stressful workouts in direct succession. Stress at work or one-sided nutrition can further intensify the overall burden on the body. At the beginning you should refrain from multiple training in one day or 2 consecutive running sessions.

A less stressful for the passive musculoskeletal system floating unit can rather follow a demanding cycling training as for example an equally demanding running unit. Usually follows after 2 or 3 weeks of training a week of relief with about 40-60% reduced training load. Then you increase the scope of the exercise weeks to generate new training stimuli compared to the example week by about 10%.

Also read: Triathlon: Typical beginner mistakes in the training camp

Daniel Kilb

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