How Long Will It Take Me to Prepare for My Triathlon?

“How long will it take for me to prepare for a triathlon / my race?” This is one of the most common questions athletes ask their coach before they begin training for a triathlon or run race.

However, without learning more about the individual athlete, the best answer that can be given is, “it depends.”

Obviously, this is a generic answer to a generic (yet common) question. Never the less, below I will highlight a few factors that can increase or decrease each athlete’s timeline as well as a list of a few ideas to consider when trying to determine what YOUR timeline should look like.

While this may be a very common question, the answer is also very specific to each athlete.

First and foremost, here are a few factors that can increase or decrease the amount of time needed for an athlete to prepare for their goal race(s):

  • Age,
  • Injury history
  • Goals
  • Current level of fitness
  • Experience in the sport (and/or related sports)
  • Professional guidance or self coached / generic training plan

Yes, there are other things that need to be considered, but as you can see, without learning more about the individual athlete, it’s hard to give a blanket answer to the original question.

In addition to the factors listed above, here are 3 things to consider when trying to determine your personal timeline to prepare.

1. You CAN’T Rush Volume

Training load (time, distance, stress, ect) must be done a reasonable ramp rate. In other words, it smart to do this in a conservative and well structured manner. By doing this you will slowly but consistently build up your fitness and body’s tolerance to do more work.

If you try to ramp up too fast, you risk injury, burn out &/or discouragement.

2. Closing Significant Gaps

Do you need to learn how to Swim? Is one of your goals to take time off of your bike split? Focused training block(s) are a perfect way to close the gap and work on limiters. However, doing so requires a slightly different approach and your training will likely look a little different for a period of time.

Typically, focused blocks of training increase time spent on the areas you’re looking to develop while dialing back others. The goal is to supercharge progress in the area you’re looking to improve while maintaining the others. This is done over a period of time and may be anywhere from 4-8 weeks.

3. Phases of Training

Each phase of training is important. The names of these phases can vary from coach to coach but the overall purpose of each phase is pretty much the same.

Individual athletes may spend more or less time in a particular phase depending on their experience and needs, BUT it’s hard to develop much, say, SPEED (or endurance or strength), if you only spend 3 or 4 weeks working on it because you are on a tight timeline.

Fitness takes time. It literally takes weeks, months and years of consistent work. Yes, you can become VERY fit in a few months but that fitness will still be very different than if you were working on it consistently for a few years. Another way to think of this is like an investment or retirement account.

The point is, nothing is built over night, so expect it to take some time and  hard work. Embrace the journey!

“Are You Training or Exercising?”

I hope the information above helps to provide at least a little clarity around how much time you may need to prepare for your goal. After giving consideration to everything above, it may be best to speak with an experienced coach to get a more accurate idea of what YOU are looking at in terms of preparation time needed.

Are you interested in doing something EPIC? We work with a variety people with all kinds of goals. Whether you want to prepare for your FIRST triathlon (or run race), looking to go FURTHER and/or go FASTER. OR simply get in the BEST SHAPE OF YOUR LIFE… we want to help YOU!

Learn more about RTA triathlon / run coaching HERE and contact us for a FREE, no obligation training consult with an expert coach.

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