If you’ve tackled a sprint triathlon in the past but are looking to improve upon your time – try this free intermediate sprint triathlon training plan. It’s a 20 week plan designed to build upon your base fitness level with race-specific training to help you cross the finish line faster!
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.
What you need about this intermediate sprint 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 recommend that you make sure to read all of the other info in this post as well. It contains key details about the who the plan is designed for, workout codes, etc. (You can also pin this post for later so you can refer back to it whenever you need to.)
Who is this plan for?
This plan is designed for athletes that have completed one more more sprint triathlons in the past and are looking to improve upon their time.
If you have never done a sprint triathlon before but have a high starting fitness level, you could use this plan as well. For example, if you’ve been training for several road races and use biking as a cross training activity, but haven’t ever done an actual triathlon – this might be a good plan to use.
If you’re a beginner athlete, this plan is not ideal as it incorporates quite a bit of interval work. Instead, I recommend checking out the 12 week sprint triathlon training plan for beginners instead. This is focused more on consistency than speed, and is perfect for those looking to train for a triathlon as a way of improving their fitness level.
What fitness level do I need prior to starting?
Before starting, you should be regularly exercising at least 2.5 hours per week. In addition, you should be able to meet these minimum requirements for each discipline:
- Swimming: able to swim 800 yards/meters comfortably
- Cycling: able to cycle for 30 minutes continuously
- Running: able to run 25 minutes continuously
Disclaimer: I am not a physician. Always check with your doctor prior to starting any new exercise program.
What are the phases of this intermediate sprint triathlon training schedule?
The plan is broken into a few different phases, though you don’t necessarily see these labeled on the training schedule:
- Base Period – Weeks 1-12
- Build Period – Weeks 13-18
- Taper – Weeks 19-20
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 involves a reduction in training volume that allows your body to rest and recover so you arrive at the starting line feeling fresh.
Focus weeks during the base period
The base period is divided into three 4-week blocks of “focus weeks.” These are designed to put extra attention on a specific disciple for those four weeks, to sharpen skills and speed. During those weeks there are 3 workouts (instead of 2) for that discipline. This plan begins with a run focus, then bike focus and wrapping up with a swim focus before starting the Build Period.
How much time will I spend training each week?
You’ll be doing 6-7 workouts each week over six days of training. Mondays are rest days.
Every week has at least two swim workouts, two bike workouts, and two run workouts. Many weeks contain an extra workout in one of these disciplines.
The total training time each week varies based on the week, but ranges from about 2.5 hours on the low end to 5.5 hours on the high end.
How to read the training plan document
This intermediate sprint training plan is set up in table format. You’ll see the weeks along the left column, and then spaces for swim/bike/run workouts underneath that. Then you’ll see columns for each day. Just follow along with this to see what workout you should do that day.
The swim workouts are coded, and there is an appendix at the back of the plan that describes these. For example, the Week 1 Tuesday swim is listed as 800-A. You would go to the back of the plan to find the 800-A workout.
The bike and run workouts are described in the plan table itself.
What should the workout intensity be for the training sessions?
On the bike and run workouts, you’ll see some indicators as to the proper intensity. Let Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE) help guide you on these.
For RPE, 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:
- EZ = RPE 3-5
- Mod. (Moderate) = RPE 7 or approximately 10K race pace/intensity
- HI = RPE 8-9 or approximately mile pace/intensity
- Race Pace/Intensity = pace or effort intended for Race Day
Swim Workout 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 Workout Notes:
Some cycling workouts include guidance based on the RPE intensity scale mentioned earlier. Others may include direction with “big gear” or “sprint.” If you see either of those, this is what they mean:
- Big Gear = Increase resistance on your bike to simulate going up a steep hill and pedal at less than 65 rpm
- Sprint= Increase cadence to 100+ rpm in a gear that prevents you from bouncing out of the saddle.
You’ll notice that many cycling workouts include intervals. For example, you might see a workout listed like this:
- 10 min. EZ
- 5X(30 sec. Sprint/1:30 EZ)
- 10 min. EZ
This would mean you’d ride 10 minutes at an easy pace. You’d then sprint for 30 seconds at a high cadence, followed by riding easy for 1:30. You’d repeat that 4 more times (to get 5 total intervals), before finishing your ride with another 10 minutes of easy riding.
Run Workout Notes:
Similar to the cycling sessions, many run sessions contain intervals as well. Simply follow the same type of pattern for these as described above. The run session speed should be guided by the RPE intensity guidelines.
Brick Workout Notes:
Brick workouts are included during the build period to teach athletes how to transition from bike to run and denoted as “OTB” (off-the-bike). The run portion of the Brick workout should be done at race effort, PE of 7-8, unless otherwise indicated. 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 intermediate sprint training plan!
Here’s your sprint tri training schedule – 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.*
Note: 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?
If you’ve used this plan and want to really set yourself up for a challenge, consider trying our beginner Ironman training plan!
You might also be interested in our road race training plans, like this 12 week intermediate half marathon training plan or 12 week intermediate marathon training plan.
Share with me: What race are you getting ready for? If you used this intermediate sprint triathlon training plan, what did you think?
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Hi Chrissy, I have been following your plan and I love it! I have a question about the run days. Can you please describe how I would follow (ie):
30 min EZ w. 10×30 sec. HI
I have been running a 1/3 of the EZ section (10 min.), then 30 sec. at the HI pace while finishing the rest of the minute at EZ pace 10x. Then finish of the EZ section. Just want to make sure that I am doing it correctly.
You got it! 🙂 That’s exactly right.
Great, thank you so much!
Hello, thanks for the great plan!
Can’t find any reference to acronyms used like OTB and OFTB.
Hi Carolina – so sorry about that. We must have written them both ways but it just means “off the bike” – so you do the run right after finishing the bike ride.
Could you help me decipher the swim training? Like for example, what does 800-A mean . “100 Easy Free; 50 Kick ; 2×150 pull as 50 easy/50 moderate, etc..
Hi Lissa – sure thing! So for the 800-A, it would look like this when all broken down (in meters or yards depending on the pool you’re using; fine to use interchangeably):
100 easy freestyle swim at a comfortable pace
50 focusing on your kick using a kickboard
Do 150 using a pull buoy and focusing on your arm motions, done as 50 easy, then 50 moderate, then 50 strong
Rest 30 sec
Do 150 using a pull buoy and focusing on your arm motions, as 50 easy, then 50 moderate, then 50 strong
50 easy freestyle
Do 50 using a pull buoy and focusing on your arm motions 4 times, with each getting faster, with 15 sec of rest between each 50
100 easy freestyle
If you don’t have some of the tools – i.e. a kickboard, pull buoy – just follow the plan as described while focusing your attention on those areas of your stroke. For example, you could focus as much as possible on your arm motions during a pull drill while just lightly kicking to keep yourself afloat if you don’t have a pull buoy.
Quick question… on day one there are two activities… swim and run. Should those be back to back, straight out of the pool and onto the treadmill? or should they be done at different times during the day? Thanks so much for the training plan… tomorrow is day 1! I don’t have the full 20 weeks, only 14, but I think I can adapt it to be ready in time!
Hi Lindsey – great question. At the beginning of the plan it starts with one activity per day, but then does have some later workouts where there are two activities per day. For most athletes, I suggest dividing into an AM/PM workout if they’re able to do it. The exceptions are the brick workouts on Saturdays, where you do a bike then run back to back. Hope that helps!