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How should I prepare for my first triathlon?

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The question

I am a 40-year-old woman. In four months, I'm racing in my first triathlon (750-metre swim, 30-kilometre bike, five-kilometre run). How should I train? Currently I run 30 minutes, three times a week.

The answer

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I suggest dividing your training into four, one-month training blocks.

Month One: Do each sport once a week. Start with a 20-minute swim, 30-minute bike and 30-minute run. Progressively increase the duration of your workouts. By the end of the month, you should be swimming for 40 minutes, biking for an hour and running for 45 minutes.

Month Two: Continue to increase the duration of your biking until you can bike continuously for an hour and a half. Add in a fourth triathlon workout per week, and in this workout, do whichever is your weakest of the three sports.

Month Three: Swim, bike and run once per week for 30 to 45 minutes each. In addition, do one "brick" workout every week. Brick workouts are where you do two sports back-to-back without resting. Once a week, bike for 1 to 1.5 hours, then without resting, run for 10 to 30 minutes.

Final month: Continue your workout plan from month three, but during a few of your shorter mid-week workouts, after you warm-up, alternate one minute of hard work followed by two minutes of moderate work. Do five to eight sets of these intervals.

Also aim to do two full-body strength workouts a week. Stretch after every workout. Whenever weather permits, run, bike and swim outside.

One week prior to the race decrease the amount you are training so that you are rested and ready to race.

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Trainer's Tip

Most people find the scariest part of their first triathlon is swimming in the open water surrounded by other athletes. If possible, before race day, practise swimming in open water.

Send certified personal trainer Kathleen Trotter your questions at She will answer select questions, which could appear in the Globe and Mail and/or on The Globe and Mail website. Your name will not be published if your question is chosen.

Read more Q&As from Kathleen Trotter

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