Olympic Distance Triathlon Training Plan

Three events, 51.5 miles, six weeks to train, no problem

– What is an Olympic-distance triathlon?
– Visual tough Olympic-distance triathlon training chart (printable)
– Coach’s tips
– Training drills
– Technique hacks
– Training tip: Psychology
– “I did it!”
– Vital kit
– Find out more

Be under no illusions. Olympic-distance triathlons are tough.

You have to swim 1.5km, cycle 40km, run 10km and then spend at least 10 minutes maintaining a massive grin while you pose for pictures at the finish line.

Yes, we did say finish line. And we said it, because we have no doubts that you will get to the end.

How can we be so certain? Simple. We believe in you. We believe in this site’s ability to inspire you. And we believe in our coach’s ability to guide you.

“Triathlon training is a juggling act,” reveals for British Triathlon Coach of the Year Andy Bullock. “Competitors have to work on three different disciplines, which is why I’ve created a weekly training plan that includes two sessions per day. This timetable helps you to boost your fitness in the short term and build a better work/life balance in the long-term.”

Coach’s tips

“Once you’ve downloaded the plan, the first thing you should do is join your local tri club, as the camaraderie of training alongside other people boosts your motivation and makes training sessions seem far easier,” says Bullock.

“After this, set your objectives for the race,” continues Bullock. “This can be as simple as ‘I want to finish’ or as complex as attempting to set personal bests in each discipline.

“If you simply want to finish, then Gauntlet’s training plan will provide all the training you need. And if you are looking to set a series of personal bests, then you should complement the training plan with some drills aimed at improving your speed, power and endurance.”


“Push off the wall, do half a length (or about 12.5m) at full tilt and then cruise the remainder of the length. Repeat this process several times during a number of swim sessions and you’ll teach your body how to relax and move quickly.”

“Either choose a low level on a cycling machine or find a slightly downhill section of road and select a really easy gear. Now, pedal as fast as you can. Sooner or later your bottom will begin bouncing up and down. At this point, your legs have reached their limit. The aim of this drill is to complete several short, sharp, fast-pedalling bursts at the point just before your bottom starts bouncing. It will take a few goes to work out your limit, but once you do this drill will really help your leg speed.”

“If you want to improve your running speed, build a bunch of 10-second accelerations into your steady training runs. This might not seem like a lot of time, but it’s enough to teach your body how quickly it can move.”

It will take a few goes to work out your limit, but once you do this drill will really help your leg speed





Training drills: power

“Single or double-arm medicine ball throwdowns are a great way of developing the explosive ability to push against the water. Do 30 seconds worth, have a short rest and then repeat this process another three or four times depending on your fitness level.”

“A good way of increasing your pedalling power is to introduce sprints to ‘the next road sign’ into your training rides. If you’re riding for a couple of hours, add in three or four of these sprints. Not only will these boost your power, they’ll also break up the monotony of a long ride.”

“Do a 30-second uphill sprint, jog for three or four minutes and then do another 30-second uphill sprint. Repeat this drill four or five times and in a few weeks you’ll begin to develop the springy power and drive needed to get up hills.”

Training drills: endurance

A great endurance-improving swimming exercise involves you doing two lengths, then four lengths, then six lengths, then eight lengths, then ten lengths, then eight lengths, then six lengths, then four lengths, then two lengths. Rest for 15 seconds between each set of lengths.”

“The key to cycling endurance is going out on the road and getting more and more miles under your belt. Choose routes with varied terrain to alleviate the boredom and gradually increase the distance week on week.”

“This is all about getting out there and running. Find a picturesque route, keep the effort easy and challenge yourself to run for longer than you ever have before. People just getting into the sport should aim to go 10% further than their previous personal best each time.”

Find a picturesque route, keep the effort easy and challenge yourself to run for longer than you ever have before.

“I did it!”

“Never tell yourself you can’t do it, because I’m proof that you can,” says Heather Irvine, 27, who recently completed the Irish National Triathlon.

“I found the swim the most intimidating part, but I helped my confidence levels by investing in a couple of lessons with a private coach. These also helped me iron out few issues with my technique, saving me a lot of pain and ensuring I progressed far quicker than I would have imagined.

“Training for the other two elements was a lot more fun than I imagined it would be. Sure, the British winter doesn’t have the friendliest climate in the world, but if you wrap yourself up and find a group of like-minded friends to ride or run with, you’ll be amazed at how much fun battling through the rain and snow can be – especially when you know there is a warm pub waiting for you at the other end.

“Due to training properly – and removing the necessary labels to combat chafing – excitement replaced fear as the race approached, and the big day itself was one of the best of my life.

“Yes, it was tiring. And yes, the odd thing didn’t quite go to plan, but it didn’t matter. I’m fitter than I was six months ago. And I’m happier than I was six months ago. And for these reasons, I had a smile on my face from start to finish and can’t wait to do another one. See you on the start line.”


– Choose an Olympic-distance triathlon from our list to tackle with friends

– See our all our latest Olympic-distance triathlon articles

– Share this Olympic-distance triathlon training plan with a friend who’d find it handy

– Any of your own tips for taking on Olympic-distance triathlons that would be useful for other people? Drop them in the comments below


– Tell Project Gauntlet what issues or barriers you’ve got with Olympic-distance triathlon training

– Where can I find lists of great UK Olympic-distance triathlon spaces?

– Our comprehensive guide to Olympic-distance triathlon tricks

– Project Gauntlet’s ultimate guide to solving your Olympic-distance triathlon injury and pain problems

– The ultimate Olympic-distance triathlon further-reading resource: The best blogs, forums and personal trainers

Olympic-distance triathlon training meal guide

– Never suffer runner’s nipple again

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