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Olympic, Basic 12 Week - HR Zone Based Training Plan

Plan description Plan workouts calendar volume graph
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author : mikericci
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Who is the plan for?

This program should be used for an athlete who is coming off a season where:

  1. They have already completed a sprint race and/or an Olympic Distance Race

  2. They have a strong swim or run background

  3. They have trained for at last 12 weeks prior to starting this program for at least 8-9 hours per week

  4. A combination of #3 and #1 or #2

This program is a basic plan to get you to complete an Olympic Distance triathlon with the confidence that you can complete the race without difficulty.

This program can also be used to lead you into the D3 Half-Ironman Distance plan.

Plan schedule

The schedule consists of at least 3 workouts per week in each sport, 2 days of strength training and core work too. Most weeks have 4 days of cycling. The maximum trisports volume is around 11 hours toward the end of the 12 weeks and most of the weeks are around 8-10 hours with some lower volume toward your race at the end.

Heart-Rate training

This plan uses heart-rate training zones for intensity specific training.  There are also a few weeks with some additional testing in this plan, see See 'Related Links' at bottom for testing protocol and how to determine and setup your heart-rate zones. 

Background requirements

You should be able to swim at least 1,500 yards in a workout. You should be able to bike at least one hour, and run at least 45 minutes. It’s ok if you have to use the run/walk method for the running (more on that below). If you are a weak swimmer or runner, you can certainly do the best you can on your weaker events but its best if you are already up to the base fitness levels suggested.

If you already excel in one of the sports

If you have a swimming background and you want to add distance or repetitions to the workouts, you are more than welcome to do that.

If you have a cycling or running background and feel the need to add volume to the program, you are welcome to do that as well.

If you are deficient in the sports

On the opposite extreme if you feel as though you need help in one area or the other, you may want to drop a workout that you are strong in, and add an extra where you are weaker. If you feel the need to add a swim lesson in place of a swim workout on the schedule, by all means take the swim lesson and don’t feel the need to make up the missed swim workout.

If you can complete both the swim and bike workouts, but you are a weak runner and you need to use a walk/run plan that is perfectly ok. I have many runners who use an 8/2 method. This is where the athlete runs for 8 minutes and walks for 2, getting their HR back down. I have had marathoners use this method that run in the 3:00 range for 26.2 miles, so don’t feel like you are less of a runner if you use this method.

Weight Training and Core Strength
The program that I am using this time around is adapted from The Training Bible and has been tweaked to include some exercises that I think are important. The program should be fairly balanced between core and strength training. 


Good Luck in your Olympic Distance Triathlon!
Train Smart,
Mike Ricci
USAT Level II Coach
USAC Expert Coach