An athletic ménage-a-trois.

That’s right, summertime is triathlon season, which means you can do it three ways with some of your favorite friends and competitors. There are races in all the major Montana cities and we have two triathlon races right here in Bozeman. Here’s how to prepare.

The Swim
Time to get wet. Practice your perfect stroke with short sets (25-100 meters) before moving onto longer sets (200 meters and above). Rest as needed. There isn’t any reason for you to swim with poor technique. Hire a coach, or at least have your training buddy give you some feedback about your form. In the pool, work on a streamlined body position (think good posture) along with efficient arm strokes and kicking. Good-to-great swimmers have a high elbow recovery and high elbow pull along with a strong, powerful kick. Get in open water sooner than later so you acclimate to the colder water temperature. 

The Bike
Time to hop in the saddle. You can use the bike that you have, but a road bike for a road triathlon is better. If you plan to race off-road triathlons, get a mountain bike. You don’t have to go out and spend thousands of dollars, just make sure your steed has smooth-shifting gears and brakes that work. Some quality rubber on the wheels never hurts, either. Hit up your favorite bike shop for a maintenance checkup. Ride similar terrain to the course, building up your distance and speed as the weeks progress. Don’t be afraid to ride those hills again, and again, and again. The more time you spend on the course, the better you will perform on race day. Additional time spent on skills and drills will help improve your cycling: proper braking, turning, and pedaling dynamics, to name a few. Posture is important, so keep those shoulders relaxed and abs engaged. 

The Run
Finish on your feet. After any length of swimming and biking, even a seasoned veteran of running may be surprised how his or her legs feel. Add some running sessions immediately after a bike ride to become accustomed to this sensation. Before long you’ll have no trouble conquering any distance on your training and race days. Longer, slow-distance runs can help; make sure to work on your top end by running hill and track intervals. Like swimming and biking, your technique should be improving. Spend time during your warm up to perform drills and skills to improve your technique. 

The Plan
Training for triathlon should be as simple as possible. Increase your distance and intensity relative to where you are currently and where you want to be on race day. Smaller increases in volume will yield better results. Balance out all three disciplines each week; include additional sessions for the stuff you need to work on more. Plan rest days and don’t be afraid to kick your own butt once or twice per week. 

Stretching, mobilization, core work, and strength training should also complement your swimming, biking, and running. Take the time each day to stretch and mobilize those hard-working muscles—ten minutes minimum. Perform several dynamic core exercises as part of any warmup. Your strength-training sessions could be separate workouts or immediately after some of your rides and runs, lasting 20-30 minutes in length, for two to three sessions total.

Southwest Montana Triathlons

Bozeman Tritons: Olympic and Sprint—June 28;

City of Bozeman Youth Triathlon—July 18 (ages 6-15);

XTERRA Bozeman: Off-Road—July 26;

Madison Triathlon—August 2;

Bobcat Triathlon: Sprint—September 20;

Matt Parks owns and operates Moving Forward (, a triathlon- and endurance-coaching enterprise. He works with athletes of all ability levels. He can be reached at [email protected] or (406) 580-7987.