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Training Plan: Your First Triathlon!

Photo by Erik Isakson

Megan Mann might never have completed a triathlon if a friend hadn’t talked her into it. A few years ago, Megan, a 31-year-old schoolteacher in Montgomery, Ill., was a fulfilled if unexceptional runner. She participated in races from 5ks to half marathons, and while she never came home with trophies or medals, she never got tired of trying.

So the last thing Megan expected to do in her very first triathlon was to place fourth out of 325 participants in her age group. The following year, Megan dedicated her summer to triathlon training. She returned to the same triathlon and won her age group. Another pleasant surprise: When Megan returned to road racing, she started to hit the podium in these events as well. Not only had competing in triathlons revealed Megan’s hidden talents for swimming and cycling, but the balanced training had also made her a better runner.


Megan’s story is not uncommon. Each year thousands of runners try their first triathlon on a whim only to discover that the two sports complement each other beautifully. Running fitness is a perfect foundation for success in triathlons, while the addition of swimming and cycling to a runner’s routine boosts aerobic conditioning.

A smooth transition from running to triathlon is no guarantee—but it’s easy to do with a bit of guidance and planning. To increase your chances of having an experience like Megan’s, follow three simple rules . . .

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