Triathlon at 50: Training Week 3

Triathlon training woman 50

It’s only week three and I’m already regretting this project. I’m looking for escuses and wondering if sprint tri (swim 750m, bike 20km, run 5km) is enough or if l need to do the full olympic distance to fulfill the challenge.

At the moment the olympic distance (swim 1.5km, bike 40km, run 10km) seems well beyond my capabilities, especially as I’d secretly like to do it in under three hours. The reality is that I can barely swim 50m in freestyle without stopping and at the end of that 50m I am literally gasping for breath.

During squad training we did a drill where we tied our feet together before swimming with freestyle arms. It felt as if I had rocks tied to me feet so I had to give up on that one. I don’t like giving up so that left a nasty taste in my mouth and not just because of all the chlorine I’d swallowed.

Anyway, I shouldn’t complain. I wanted a challenge and I’ve certainly got one. I am also very grateful that I am strong and fit enough to be able to take it on. Even if I’m not sporty I am able-bodied and that’s a wonderful thing.

My training schedule this week:

Monday: Swim (60 mins) + Run (45 mins)

Tuesday: Bike (90 mins) + Aqua Deep class focusing on strength and toning (40 mins)

Wednesday: Run (60 mins – speed work and plyometric drills) + Swim Squad (60 mins)

Thursday: Run (90 mins – combination of five assaults on the killer steps, some down hill speed work and flat threshold run)

Friday: Swim squad (60 mins)

Saturday: Bike (23km in 60mins) + Timed 5km Run (parkrun 26 mins 30 secs) + 10km ride home

Sunday: Slow run (15km which took 100 minutes) + strength class (40 mins) + yoga (60 mins)

Here’s what I did with Jess in her triathlon training for women beginner course.

Triathlon Training for Beginners – Week 3


I already found swimming by far the most challenging discipline but it got way harder this week. I certainly can’t keep up with the other women but I did my best to keep chugging along up and down the pool at a silly speed. I alternated freestyle with breaststroke a few times but mainly I did as told.

I had a major breakthrough though because I’d been practicing swimming freestyle as instructed on YouTube videos but in my last squad session the coach told me to keep my head down and I’ve been trying to do that more.

I also try to make my breathing quite controlled and breathe out strongly with my mouth in an O shape when my head’s under water.

During this session I got so tired that as I swam freesyle I just relaxed my head completely and let my jaw fall loose. Suddenly the breathing and everything else felt easier so I’ll be experimenting with consiciously relaxing my head and face more from now on.

It made swimming so much easier I wanted to tell everyone about my breakthrough but kept quiet worried they’d tell me it wasn’t right. Sometimes l think you have to work out what’s right for you and not try to follow rules someone else has imposed. This definitely felt right for me.

Swimming Tips

  • Try not to compare yourself to other people – impossible I know but keep trying;
  • Practice swimming with arms only and with arms just scooping under the water level to learn how to propel yourself through the water and use your entire arm, not just your hands, as paddles.


This week I was determined to keep up with the others and I had a chance with hill repeats at Gyndier Drive in Noosa which is a long, twisty 3km hill. We did three repeats with Jess and I stayed after the group and did two more hill repeats alone. This will help me improve my bike strength and get more confident about going down hill and around corners.

I wasn’t the fastest going up but I stayed in the middle of the pack. Unfortunately almost everyone seems to be faster than me going downhill!

Biking Tips

  • Get the fully padded bike shorts – they look funny but they do make biking more comfy.
  • Learn how to get your front tyre on and off so you can transport your bike to the nearest big hill for bike training.
  • When you corner keep the pedal up on the side you’re turning into.


This week we tackled the killer steps. I managed to run to the top of them  without stopping once many many years ago and couldn’t do that today. Even walking to the top of the steep 200 steps is a challenge.

It’s a good workout though and Jess explained that it combines effort, as we puff and pant up the steps, with speed or cadence work as we ran a downhill loop back to the bottom afterwards which allowed us to work on pace.

Not forgetting our dynamic stretching pre-run and static stretching post-run this was a good short, sharp run workout.

Running Tips

  • Incorporate hills or steps into your running program once a week. Even if you can’t run up them to begin with it will build strength and teach you to take on more effort.
  • If you’ve joined a running group or are being coached and doing lots of hard running leave at least one day a week for slow running that you enjoy. It’s a chance to remember why you enjoy running while building your fitnees levels slowly. For more tips see running for beginners over 40.

Phew! Another tiring week. What will week 4 hold?

Other posts in the Triathlon Training at 50 Series

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