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How Much Time Do I Need to Train for a Triathlon?

If you’re considering competing in triathlon, it’s important that you first assess how much time you can dedicate to your triathlon training. The amount of time needed often varies from week-to-week and month-to-month as your plan progresses.

If training does not fit into your lifestyle and you can’t make room, you are very unlikely to have a successful triathlon.

How can time commitments vary throughout training?

Training needs are cycled depending on how much time the athlete has until the race. Training times can range from 6 hours up to 20 hours a week depending upon the distance being raced and the training cycle the athlete is in. The commitment also varies depending upon several factors, including but not limited to: the athlete’s previous training history, experience/comfort with the three disciplines of triathlon, and whether the athlete is returning from or has a history of injuries.

Weekly time commitments change throughout the season and the plan the athlete is following. Athletes looking to complete a race versus one who is trying to gain a spot on the podium can have a large impact in their time commitment.

What hours can I expect?

Additionally, the hours spent training depends upon the distance the athlete is training to complete: Sprint, Olympic/International, Half Ironman 70.3 or Full Ironman 140.6. Athletes training for longer distances generally have a higher time commitment than those training for sprint distance races. Sprint training plans range from 3-6 hours per week of sport-specific training, whereas athletes participating in full-distance 140.6 races have a time commitment from 13 to 20+ hours. Also, athletes completing triathlon and strength training will require more hours per week due to the strength workouts. Recovery weeks also have less time commitment than build weeks to allow the body ample time to recover from the stress on the body built up by training.

How much lead up time do I need?

With training, take into consideration how far in advance the race is scheduled. The amount of time needed to train for a race is impacted by the distance being raced and the athlete’s current level of fitness. An athlete starting from scratch can require more time to get ready for a full-distance triathlon than one who just completed a half Ironman race (allowing for recovery time, too, of course).

For many athletes, the longer the distance, the more time is needed to get ready for the race. Athletes just starting out can be ready to compete in a Sprint triathlon in 8-10 weeks, whereas an untrained (or under-trained) athlete requires 20-24 weeks to get ready for a full-distance triathlon. Athletes competing in Olympic/International distances and Half Ironman races will have monthly commitments in the middle of these requirements.

Axes coaches tailor training for athletes that have between 6 hours a week and 20 hours a week, depending upon the distance being raced.

Want to talk with John about the time commitment needed to reach your goals? Contact him at:


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