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Sprint Triathlon Training

Triathlon competition usually begins with sprint triathlon training. The shortest of the official triathlons, sprint triathlons are the easiest to train for, and allow you to gradually transition and train into the longer triathlons competitions.

According to the conventions of both the International Triathlon Union (ITU), and the US Triathlon, the sprint distance is defined as:

  • swimming 750m (0.5mile)

  • biking 20 km (12 miles)

  • running 5 km (3 miles).

The actual distances will vary with the event, but these are the standard distances.

Super Sprint


There is a shorter sprint event, called a Super Sprint, by the ITU. As with all triathlon events, the distances build from one level to the next. The Super Sprint is a shorter event than the sprint distance. A Super Sprint is approximately half the distance of the sprint distance. In this case, a Super Sprint would be 0.25 miles swimming, 6 miles biking, and 1.5 miles running.

Train Wisely

If you are overweight, it is recommended that you start with a slower, longer triathlon-training program, which will help you lose weight, while still working toward your sprint triathlon training goals. If you are concerned with knee injuries when you first start training, a good beginner program will emphasize swimming and biking over running until your fitness levels improve. Swimming and biking will put less stress on the knee, while still building your endurance and working towards your fitness goals.

Knee injuries are mostly caused by the weight being put on the knee, and not the act of running itself. To help minimize your injury potential, pick a longer beginning training program, and include nutritional changes to help support your new goals.

Sprint triathlon training can focus on one of two things:

  • Completing the event without regard to time

  • Being the fastest

If you are just starting out, the wisest option is to focus on completing the event no matter how long it takes you. Triathletes train for endurance, and building up your endurance will take time.

In order to start a sprint triathlon-training program, it is advised to be able to consistently swim 20 minutes, bike for 30 minutes and run for 20 minutes. If your fitness level is below this, fear not, you only need the desire to work at it.  When you get to the levels mentioned here you will know you are getting close.  If you are already at this level, then you can start a training program for a future sprint. For people who are currently involved in one of the endurance sports in a triathlon, your training program will change. You will not train more days, but you will alternate which activity you're doing.

You need to:

  • Determine your fitness level
  • Discuss your plans with your doctor
  • Find a training program that matches your fitness level
  • Pick a date for an event
  • Make sure it's not too close or you run the risk of not being ready or pushing too hard to make your goals
  • Don't pick a date for an event too far out or you run the risk of losing focus.
  • Start training

Sprint triathlon training can be accomplished by even unfit individuals with proper training. As with any program, you should discuss it with your doctor before starting. However, unless you have some underlying health issues, sprint triathlon training is an achievable goal for most people.

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