Been a fan of sprint triathlons for a while and taking the next step to the Olympic distance? Or maybe you’re thinking about doing your first triathlon but want to challenge yourself with an Oly right off the bat? Either way, this beginner 16 week Olympic triathlon training plan will have you feeling great as you cross the finish line!
This training plan was produced in partnership with Multisport Mastery. If you’re an intermediate or advanced athlete that needs a little extra guidance, feel free to reach out to them.
Here’s everything you need to know to use this 16 week Olympic triathlon training plan:
If you scroll all the way down, you’ll find a link to download the training plan at the bottom – but I highly encourage you to read the rest of the post first! It will help you assess if you’re ready to start this training plan and share important training session details.
Who is this plan for?
This plan is designed for first-time Olympic-distance Triathletes. You’ll want to have a minimum base level of fitness in each discipline (swim, bike, and run) prior to starting.
In addition to first-timers, this plan is also great for those who have already completed an Olympic triathlon but are looking for structured training to do another.
If you’re an advanced athlete looking to PR, this is probably not the best plan for you – you’ll want something a bit more intense.
What fitness level do I need prior to starting?
You should be currently exercising at least 2 hours per week regularly. Here are the minimum requirements by discipline that we recommend for starting this plan:
- Swimming: capable of swimming 800 yards/meters
- Cycling: able to cycle 30 minutes continuously at a steady pace
- Running: able to run (or run/walk) 25 minutes continuously in a session
Disclaimer: I am not a physician. Always check with your doctor prior to starting any new exercise program.
What are the phases of this 16 week Olympic triathlon training plan?
The plan is broken into a few different phases, though you don’t necessarily see these labeled on the training schedule:
- Base Period – Weeks 1-8
- Build Period – Weeks 9-14
- Taper – Weeks 15-16
The base period is designed to continue to enhance your current fitness level, developing your aerobic capacity. The build period starts to incorporate more speedwork and race-specific workouts, helping prepare you for race-day intensity. The taper is a considerable drop in training volume that allows your body to rest and recover so you arrive at the starting line feeling fresh.
What is the time commitment for this?
This plan includes six workouts per week- two swim workouts, two bike workouts, and two run workouts. You’ll train six days per week, and Mondays are rest days.
- During the Base Period (weeks 1-8), weekly volume ranges from approximately 2.5 to 4.5 hours.
- During the Build Period (weeks 9-14), weekly volume ranges from 4.5 to 6.5 hours.
- During the Taper (Weeks 15-16), weekly volume is around 4.5 in week 15 and around 1.5 in week 16, then concluding with your race time.
What do all the workout codes mean?
For each day on the plan, you’ll see codes for each run, bike, and swim workout. The codes correspond to a specific type of workout that you can find in the later pages, categorized by discipline.
For example, the Week 9 bike workout on Thursday of that week is labeled as 40 minute TEMPO-A. If you go to the list of bike workouts, you’ll see that this means the following workout:
- 10 minutes building Z1-Z2
- 4 X (1:30 building Z3-4 @ 100+4pm/3:30 easy)
- 10 minutes Z1-Z2
You’ll notice these workouts have “zones” – Z1, Z2, Z3 – which are described in the question below.
Some workouts may not be coded specifically like this. For example, several runs and rides just list a time frame and “EZ” (easy) or “EN” (endurance). A 30-minute EZ run means an easy paced run for 30 minutes. A 50-minute EN run means this is a workout meant to build endurance that should be done at a comfortable pace that you can maintain throughout.
What do the zones (Z1, Z2, etc) mean?
The zones on the plan should guide the intensity level of your workouts during your bike and run sessions.
In relation to Rate of Perceived Exertion on a scale of 1-10, where 1 is laying on the couch and 10 is an all-out sprint, use the following guidelines to interpret the intensity recommendations in the training plan:
- Z1 = Easy, can speak in full sentences; RPE 6
- Z2 = Moderate, can carry a conversation, but requires focus; RPE 7
- Z3 = Up-Tempo, can only speak in short phrases; RPE 8
- Z4/Best Effort = No talking; RPE 9-10
- Race Pace/Effort = pace or effort intended for Race Day
Swim Session Notes:
The swim session workout key is provided in the plan. You can use the workouts as written for yards or meters, depending on the size of your pool.
Use the following rest times for swim workouts:
- Between 25’s: 10 seconds
- Between 50’s: 15 seconds
- Between 75’s: 15-20 seconds
- Between 100’s: 20 seconds
- Between 150-250’s: 30-45 seconds
- Between 300+: 45-60 seconds
Cycling Session Notes:
The cycling session workout key is provided in the plan. Rides are divided into 3 Types: Tempo (TEMPO); Easy (EZ); and Endurance (EN).
Rides designated EZ or EN should be done at Z1/Z2 effort. TEMPO rides have specific zone intervals assigned to them in the workout appendix.
Long rides should be done outside as much as is practical and on terrain that closely resembles the race course. Think of long rides and bricks as race simulations. Practice nutrition and hydration, as well as gear choices.
After the Base Period, Bricks (denoted as BR) are added to TEMPO rides. In each brick session, quickly transition from bike to run (ideally 3-5 minutes or less between completing the bike portion and starting the run portion)
Run Session Notes:
The run session workout key is provided in the plan. Most run sessions, especially during the base period, are simple easy paced runs. As you get into the build portion of the plan, there’s a little speedwork and hill work built in.
Runs are divided into 6 Types:
- Easy (EZ)
- Strength (ST)
- Brick (BR)
- Endurance/Long (EN).
Runs designated EZ or EN should be done at Z1/Z2 effort.
Tempo and Strength sessions include zone guidance in the workout descriptions.
Brick runs should be done at race intensity/pace, or RPE of 7-8.
Hill repeats should be done as follows: After the warm up, run up a hill for 60 seconds at RPE 7-8, walk back down, run easy for 2 minutes. This is one rep. Repeat as indicated in the schedule and cool down with 10-15 minutes of easy running.
Brick workouts are a back-to-back bike and run workout. You’ll see these denoted in the plan with BR.
They’re included during the build period to teach athletes how to transition from bike to run (you need to get used to that “jelly legs” feeling and figure out how to power through!).
The run portion of the Brick workout should be done at race effort, RPE of 7-8. Athletes should transition as quickly as possible from bike to run, ideally with no more than 5 minutes between completing the bike portion and beginning the run portion of the Brick workout.
Download your free 16 week beginner Olympic triathlon training plan!
Here’s your beginner 16 week Olympic triathlon training plan – just click here or on the photo below to download and print the plan out for your own personal use.
*Please note, this plan is not to be distributed on other websites or used for commercial purposes.*
There you have it! Everything you need to know to rock out your first Olympic distance triathlon. Now print out that plan and get to training! 🙂
This plan was produced in partnership with Multisport Mastery. Multisport Mastery is a group of endurance coaches who specialize in individualized performance plans for multisport athletes of all abilities. Whether your goal is to run a marathon, compete in a triathlon, ride in a week-long cycling event or finish an Ironman, they offer customized coaching to bring out the best in each athlete no matter who you are or where you want to go.
Looking for more training plans?
We have a ton on the site! If you’re thinking you’re not quite ready for this, check out our beginner sprint triathlon training plan. Did you finish this plan and need another challenge? How about tackling a 36 week Ironman training plan!