There are athletes that need the hard strict discipline of someone telling them what to do when it comes to a training regime. There are also some athletes who are lazy in a sense and don’t want to think about a program schedule of their own, they prefer that someone just tell them what to do each and every day. Some athletes just enjoy the company of a training group and the social environment it creates.

There are exceptions with some athletes happy to go along on their own, not because they cannot afford a coach or want one, simply because they enjoy being the boss of their own athletic development. You do find that potentially, athletes seeking coaching guidance often know more than the coach themselves, who may be lacking in coaching experience due to a number of reasons.

The question can then be asked, why not coach yourself? The world-wide web is filled with thousands upon thousands of training programs and advice columns. If you study hard enough off the net, you can tailor a program for yourself, taking snippets from some of the best coaches and athletes in the world and come up with a program that will in all likely hood, work well for you.


Depending on 1.who you are much training time you have at your disposal working around family and work (we are specifically talking “proper” age group triathletes here – guys and girls that work a full day – have all the normal difficulties of life in general, compounded even further when they also have a family of dependants to look after) and 3.what you want to achieve out of your training, you can then tailor a custom program geared for your needs. Get the basics in place.


  • Define a race goal, both short term (4-8 weeks) and long term (12-16 weeks plus) – what is the point of training so hard if you are not going to test yourself in race challenge, right?
  • Work out how much time per day during the week, you have available to train?
  • Work out how much time you can spend training on weekends, with family time and other commitments taken into account?
  • Then set about planning a weekly routine that you are able to stick to, at least 80% of the time over a period of at least 4 weeks plus, to truly see the fruition of all the hard work and dedication you are putting into training.




There are a ton of suggested program schedules that one can follow. The below skeletal plan, will pretty much set you up nicely, to a relatively successful sojourn into self-coaching.



Am:  SWIM SESSION. Always tough to get out of bed on a Monday morning after a weekend but a swim is perhaps the best form of exercise to start the week off with. Some prefer swimming after work or at lunch but more often than not, time flies and you sometimes end up not being able to do the swim later on so best to get stuck in and swim early.

Combine Gym/Swim Session – some sort of gym work is definitely advised. 60 minutes can easily be divided between 30 mins gym work, 30 mins swim work. Upper Body strength will help your swim discipline so it’s not necessarily correct in saying the more time you spend in the water, the better. Managing your strengths and weaknesses are most important

Swim between 2km and 3km – The less fit will swim shorter distances and then build up to these distances



Am: A bike session can be scheduled for the am. Some prefer indoors on the wattbikes (especially during the colder/wet months) others outdoors. Use this TUE cycle session as a moderate to tempo effort (around 65-70% effort). You can also mix and match by doing hill repeats with easy recovery bits in between the repeats.


Pm: A run session that will focus on some speed work. A local club time trial is an ideal session to do on the Tuesday afternoon or your own track or road speed run session. Combining a bike in the am, and run in the pm gives you that transition from bike to run feel that you will experience on race day. This run will be an 80% plus on the effort scale




Am: Another swim set with the emphasis on building up some swim mileage with slower swimming. The legs will/should be heavy from Tuesdays Bike/Run efforts so a slower swim, is just what the coach doctor ordered. Allocate between 60 and 75 minutes to this session and spend some time on working on your technique with the arm catch/pull. Swimming intensity varies (between 50-60%) at most



Am: The second bike session for the week will now be used for some harder/faster paced intervals. It can easily be done on a wattbike or out on the open roads. If you base the session on time allotment, as opposed to distance covered, you are able to manage the bike program that much better. Intervals can range from between 30 secs up to 5 minutes plus, depending on what you are training for – short sprint distance events or the longer triathlon ultras.


Pm: Schedule a run but use it as a recovery or moderate run effort. Often better to run a little further than normal but at a slower pace. For example if you are used to running 8km moderately, extend this to 10 or 12k but run at a slower pace. The legs should be a little tight after the morning cycle effort so running a little longer and slower will be the ideal mix and match for today’s plan.


This is perhaps the best day to take a REST. Some athletes don’t like resting and might prefer a sleep in over the weekend. If you are going to take a rest day during the week, Friday would be best. It can however differ, especially if you have done a race on the Sunday for example, then Monday would become the rest day instead.

A Gym/Swim program is a great alternative if you don’t want to rest on Friday. Split the program between Gym Work (lower body and core) and Swim Work (30 mins of short/sharp sprint intervals)

We want the legs to be fresh and ready to go on the weekend



If you already know that you will not able to train on the Sunday morning for whatever reason, then the ideal session will be a brick on the SAT morning. Cycle (anywhere from 2hrs up) followed within 5 minutes by the run (anywhere from 20 minutes up to 60 minutes). Once again, this depends on what you are training for, short or long distance events.

Intensity can vary – if you feeling good, you can push a little harder. If not and your feeling flat, then you take it a little easier.


The other option would be to schedule a longer cycle on the SAT if you are able to train on the SUN. Once again, we are following a triathlon format here where you cycle first (SAT), then run second (SUN). If you have the free time, you can build some decent base miles by sitting on the saddle and riding for between 3hrs and 5hrs plus. The longer you ride, the less intense the effort will be.

You can also throw in a shorter run after the longer bike if you like, this will then add an additional run session into the weekly routine


If you are tied up in advance with other commitments for SUN am and did the brick on SAT, then today would be used as your rest day. If not and the free time is available, you schedule yourself a longer run.  Longer runs would be considered as going 15km or longer. The run is also normally a little less intense unless you are using a road running race for example as a fitness test, where often you are able to run at a faster pace when running alongside other runners of similar capabilities.


So summarised on a weekly basis, you would do

2-3 swims per week (potentially 2 gym sessions coupled alongside the swim sets)

3 bike sessions

3-4 run sessions


The above program schedule can be used as a guideline, especially if you are new to the sport and still learning as to what works and what does not work for you. If you are able to stick to this routine consistently for a period of at least 4-6 weeks, you will surely be better off than you are right now. You can then tweak the program accordingly and work on the next phase of your very own coaching program.

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