Start the season as you mean to go on, with Phil Mosley’s speed-boosting sprint triathlon plan
If you want to excel at triathlon but don’t have many spare hours, sprint-distance races are ideal. The format is 750m swim, 20km cycle and 5km run, which lends itself to speed-based training, rather than pure endurance.
The key to getting good at sprint triathlon is to polarise your training. Either train fast, train easy or take a rest day. This training plan takes you through the process in just six weeks, factoring in recovery at the right times. It’ll take just over five hours per week, including six workouts and a rest day.
There are three key sessions per week, during which you’ll need to either run, swim or bike hard for short bursts. These are the ones that’ll make you fast. There are also some easier sessions, where you train at lower speeds but with good technique. It’s important to make a distinction between the two types of sessions, so you recover on the easy days and attack the hard ones.
The downside to a sprint triathlon is that small things can make a big difference. For example, on race day you might lose a minute because you make a mistake in transition. In such a short race it might lose you 10 places overall. So perhaps enter a few low-key races before you attempt one that’s important to you.
Beyond the six weeks, stick with this training routine and build on it gradually. This allows your fitness to increase at a steady rate and helps avoid injury. Provided you’ve trained to some extent through the winter, you should reach peak fitness after 12 to 16 weeks of this plan, but even six weeks should make you faster. As you get to within six weeks of your big race, include a weekly “brick” session. For example, cycle 2x10mins at target race pace, then a 3km hard run.
Swap the workouts around if it helps you fit them in. The important thing is that you allow yourself adequate time to recover. If you feel excessively tired, take two days off initially.
For simplicity’s sake the swims are given as Main Set only. In addition you should incorporate a warm up and warm down – a few hundred metres of front crawl, drills, backstroke and kicking. And for warm downs, do at least five minutes of gentle swimming. We also recommend you include a weekly coached session or one-to-one lessons if possible.
Is this plan for you?
Goal: To quickly get sprint-triathlon fit in just over five hours per week
Timescale: 6 weeks
Start point: Cycle 90mins, Run 40mins, Swim 400m non-stop
Level: Intermediate to advanced