The best way for an individual to train for a triathlon will most likely depend on your level of ability in the three sport disciplines involved. Needless to say, there is no set answer on how to train for a triathlon because triathlon training programs are best structured in a way that more training time is dedicated to the discipline that requires the most improvement.
For instance, if a person is a poor swimmer, but a great runner, it would be wise to spend some extra time refining their swim stroke and a little less time on running.
Triathlon is a more complex sport than most others because it requires the athlete to become proficient at many skills. Actually, it’s one of the more desirable features of becoming a triathlete. It’s a great way to cross-train and learn new skills at the same time..
Just how a person trains for a triathlon also depends on what level they intend to compete at. For instance, if a person decides to tackle an Ironman triathlon they would train far differently than they would for the much shorter Olympic Distance for. They would have to incorporate more distance training into their schedule and most likely would require many more months to prepare for the physical demands of an Ironman.
If swimming is new to someone planning to take up the sport of triathlon, then they will have to spend quite a lot of time in the beginning simply learning “how” to swim before they actually begin a structured triathlon training program.
If a person is already an accomplished swimmer, then realistically they can easily get by on three swim workouts a week. As a matter of fact, I have found over the years that “three” training sessions a week for each event is just about perfect.
I feel that two full rest days a week is vitally important. That leaves five days a week to train. So assuming you are going to train three times per week per discipline, you will have nine workout sessions in those five days.
That means that some of the days will be dual sessions. For instance, swim-bike, swim-run, or maybe bike-run. The trick is to balance the nine sessions through-out the five days to ensure that you train in all three events.
If a person is highly proficient at cycling for instance, there is no reason they can’t get by on two sessions per week early in the season. This will allow more time to work on swimming and running.
Triathlon training depends on what the goals of the individual are. Someone training for an Ironman Triathlon will train far differently than someone training for their first sprint distance triathlon. Also, the longer the distance you are racing, the more time you will most likely spend training.
It’s only common sense that you will swim train far less if your event includes a 500 meter pool swim as opposed to a 3.8 km open water swim that is the first leg of the Ironman Triathlon.