Detailed training plans for a triathlon can be obtained from various sources. Here I have just noted basic outlines and targets for each month. The amount of preparation and time spent will vary greatly depending on the time available, your expectations and commitment to the cause.

February - Triathlon Training guidelines:

Swimming: Last month the goal was to swim at least once a week with the emphasis being on swimming technique. To judge how efficient your technique has become, count the number of strokes it takes to complete one length of a 25m pool. A good swimmer with an efficient stroke will take as little as 14 strokes per length. Others may be more than double that. Note how many strokes you need to complete one length. During the month make an effort to lower your swim stroke per 25m by concentrating on the mechanics of your swimming. Remember, swim long and streamlined. Only turn your head enough to breathe (try to keep one lens of your goggles in the water as you turn to breathe). Accelerate the hand speed as you perform the arm action.

Cycling: As for January we are still aiming to cover as many miles as possible. This month try to pick some more challenging routes that involve some hills. The hills will help develop power and push your heart rate briefly into the higher ranges required for racing. If possible find a training partner who is similar in ability to you. Riding with someone else is more enjoyable and provides a mental stimulus to try that little harder. Take it in turns to set the pace. When riding behind use the slipstream effect to rest up in preparation for your turn at the front.

Running: Having spent most of January building up your running distance and hopefully staying injury free, you are now in a position to gradually increase your distance and tempo during February. Marginally increase the distance of your run, but still allow plenty of time to recover before you venture out again. Try a 'fartleck' (Swedish for speed-play).session or two during this month. This could involve running your normal route but alternating a fast sprint with a recovery jog using lampposts or other objects as markers.

Other Factors: Continue to eat a healthy diet. A bowl of porridge in the morning is both filling and has plenty of slow release carbohydrates to fuel a busy training schedule. Check out the web for some 'core stability exercises'. They will help you perform better in all 3 disciplines. Try an exercise called 'The Plank'. It looks deceptively easy and requires no equipment to perform.

January - Triathlon Training guidelines:

Swimming: Depending on your previous experience you will be approaching the swim with either confidence or trepidation. If the later, the sooner you start the easier it will be. For January, you should aim to swim at least once per week, preferably twice if time allows. If possible join your local swimming club. Most clubs have a Masters section, where you will have pool time available without the general public getting in the way. Coaching is provided by most clubs. The swimming technique is the most important aspect to work on. A good technique makes the whole process so much less effort. If you cannot make a coached session the next best thing is watch a couple of video clips on You-Tube and see how the experts execute their strokes. Remember you only have a choice of two strokes, either front-crawl or breast-stroke. Harwich Swimming Club Masters swim 21:00 ~ 22:00 Monday & Thursday. £3 per session.

Cycling: Most people have little fear of the cycle section, although it is the largest part of the event. The breakdown is generally 20% swim, 50% cycle, 30% run. So a good bike leg is important to your overall time. The plan for January and February is simply to get some miles in. This will give you the base fitness to build on later in the year. With the weather likely to be indifferent to say the least you may not wish to venture out on your best bike. Not to worry a mountain bike is just as good and will withstand the punishment better anyway.

Running: Again depending on you background you will have to approach the run differently. If you are a regular runner / jogger you just need to keep putting in the miles. If you haven't run for a while, the sooner you start the better. Take it easy at first. Running is the simplest of all exercise, but the one most likely to give you an injury. Go to any running club and you will hear endless tales of who has which injury and who has that. Buy a good pair of running shoes. Allow time to recover from previous runs before pushing ahead with the next stage. Remember there is still 5 months to go. (Tortoise and the Hare). Try to run on softer surfaces if you can. Vary your training route to add variety and different challenges. Join your local running club. They are not all super athletes and all will welcome you into their strange world. Harwich Running Club meets on Tuesday evening see about us for details.

Other Factors: Eat well, but cut out the junk. The great thing about training for a triathlon is you can eat more than the average person as long as you remember the golden rule. Rubbish in rubbish out! If you are over your ideal weight try to gradually shed those extra pounds. It will make a great difference when you attack the hills on your bike and run section of the event.