Triathlon Training Tips from Ironman Champion Jordan Rapp

Training for your first triathlon? Or hoping to take your race to the next level? Check out our exclusive training plan from 6x Ironman Champion Jordan Rapp:


 Jordan Rapp bicycle
What’s your top training advice for any triathlete? 

Without question, the single most important piece of advice I can give is that something is better than nothing. Short workouts, done consistently, add up. I have a simple rule of thumb about how much time you need for a meaningful workout in each sport, which I usually express in two forms:

20min run
25min swim (total time in the water)
30min bike

Or, another way of looking at it:

20min run
30min bike
40min swim (total time at the pool, including preparations before/after the swim)

I state the two different times because swimming involves more preparation than running and biking. Almost everyone, even if they live close to the pool or can stop by on the way to/from work, has to spend at least 15 minutes or more once they arrive at the pool getting dressed/undressed. The 25 minute timer is for once you actually get in the water and the 40 minute rule is for once you arrive to the pool.

What are your event-specific training tips?

You can successfully race any triathlon distance – even an Ironman distance — with as little as an hour a day of focused training. Looking at this by event:

Triathletes Swimming

Swimming: For swimming, my rule is “deliberate strokes.” You can waste a lot of time at the pool, but if you’ve got 25 minutes to spend on focused effort, you’ll see dividends. Make the strokes count. This doesn’t necessarily mean hard strokes, but they need to be good strokes.

Biking: On the bike, if it’s gonna be short, it needs to be hard. 30 minutes of easy spinning isn’t going to do much. But a short warm-up and then some high intensity intervals will pay big dividends in terms of fitness if you can really commit to putting the hammer down. Indoor trainers are great for these kinds of short workouts. A single 5 or 10 minute interval or a few repeated short intervals of 30 seconds to 1 minute can make for a great, impactful workout.

Young female runner stretchingRunning: For an effective running workout, long distance is not necessary: any time spent running is valuable. There’s really no such thing as junk miles running. If you’re out running, you’re getting better as a runner.

The real value of short workouts is that they allow you to be consistent. It’s not the one massive, epic workout that prepares you. Rather, a consistent approach that has you swimming, biking, and/or running day after day, week after week, and month after month is the approach that will get you to the starting line prepared. The best training plan is always the one that fits your life and schedule, allowing you to execute consistently and faithfully.

Don’t miss the rest of Jordan Rapp’s training, diet and gear tips.



Rapp bike


Jordan is the 2011 ITU Long Distance Triathlon World Champion and six-time IRONMAN champion. Jordan’s journey with World Bicycle Relief began in 2009 when he kicked off his first Rappstar Charity Challenge.

Victoria is a volunteer writer for World Bicycle Relief, where she exercises her love for bikes and nonprofit work. Her work has spanned from epidemiology research in nutrition to storytelling at Watsi. At any given time, she’s probably riding the hills of San Francisco, drinking coffee, or writing for various blogs.


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