I've decided to do another triathlon.  This will be my third one.  I completed an Olympic/International triathlon in May of 2015 (.93 mile swim, 25 mile bike, 6.2 mile run).  It look me 3 hours and 8 minutes.  It was a hilly course (Auburn International).  This was a warm up to my big race two months later, the Vineman 70.3 (half ironman: 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike, 13.1 mile run).  That one took 6 hours and 23 minutes.  The last 7 miles of the run were agony (dehydration, lots of walking).

The Monte Rio triathlon race is in 20 weeks.  It's an Olympic distance, with a river swim, a bike to the ocean among redwoods, and a run around a quaint town.  My goal is to complete it in 2 hours and 45 minutes at a weight of 209.  A lot needs to happen for that to...happen.  To give it my best shot, I've come up with a custom training program that fits my fitness beliefs (based on education and personal experience).

Training goal: 10 workouts/week: 3 weightlifting sessions, 3 swims, 2 bike rides, and 2 runs.  Weight lifting and swimming will be paired together.  All workouts will be between 60-90 minutes.  It will most likely look like this (amounts are for week 1):

Su: Weights (40 min) and Swim (1000 meters)
M: Bike (10 miles)
Tu: Weights (40 min) and Swim (1000 meters)
W: Rest day
Th: Weights (40 min) and Swim (1000 meters)
F: Run (4 miles)
Sa: Bike 10 and Run 3 (this is called a BRick workout)

Each week will get progressively tougher; except every fourth week will be an "easy" week.  For example, in week two I will be swimming 1100 meters, biking 12 miles on Monday, and running 4 during the brick on Saturday.  Week 3 will be harder than week 2.  Week 4 will be like week 1, same number of workouts as other weeks, but shorter distances.  But then, week 5 will be as hard or harder than week 3.  The two weeks leading up to the race will, of course, taper (fewer workouts, fairly short).  And, as with any structured program, it will be important for me to listen to my body and change things on the fly as needed.  And now, to answer questions:

Why Triathlon? - Unlike training for a running only event, say a half marathon, where one runs 4-5x/week, triathlon training allows for parts of the body to rest while others are working (Triathletes barely kick when swimming). 

Why not just lift weights to slim down? - Theoretically, that's the best way to do things.  The more muscle you have, the more calories you're burning 24/7.  To me, that sounds great, but in practice it doesn't work well for me.  I lifted all of 2016 and gained muscle (10-12 lbs), and fat (8-10 lbs); and that was with a weekly run and swim thrown in.

Why lift at all? - I want to maintain my current levels of strength and muscle mass as I slim down.

Why more swimming than biking or running? - I tend to lose the most weight when swimming. Biking seems to work well too, but I prefer to swim.  I've never really lost much weight running?

Why can't you lose by running? - I run too fast.  I'm a believer of the Phil Maffetone theory of aerobic exercise.  I heard about this theory listening to an Art of Manliness podcast with Mark Sisson (google).  Mr. Maffetone's theory focuses on your heart rate.  He believes that if you keep it below a certain value (180 minus your age), you will teach your body (over a couple months) to burn more fat than carbs for fuel during exercise.  Once I read this, I checked my heart rate during my training sessions.  For swimming and biking (as long as I wasn't sprinting or going up a hill), I was right in the "butter" zone (pun intended).  For running, my heart rate was about 15-20 bpm too high.  Slowing my running pace down by about 2 minutes a mile put me in the right spot.  So now, until we get about two months from the race, my runs will be slow and easy.  This also explains to me why heavy people going from no running (couch) to any distance (5k-marathon) do lose weight since they are moving slowly.

What does a typical swim workout look like? - I start with a 300-400m warm up.  Then, either do sets of 200m or a declining pyramid (400, 300, 200, then 100 = 1000 meters).  I always aim for a negative split during a set, but it rarely happens.  Occasionally, I throw in 50-100m of breaststroke.  Cool down is usually 50-100m.  All distance counts.

What weight lifting exercises do you do? - I prefer compound lifts because those hit many muscle groups in a short amount of time.  I came up with 6 exercises that target the whole body: Deadlift, Squat, Bench Press, dumbbell Row, Pull-ups, and Press.  These 6 have been paired together into three groups: Deadlift and Pull-ups (A), Bench and Row (B), and Squat and Press (C).  The first lift in each group is a primary exercise, receiving 3 warm up sets and 3 main sets.  The secondary exercises get two warm up sets and two main sets.  Each group is a super-set (a set of the secondary exercise is done immediately after a primary set) and gets 20 minutes.  On Sunday I do groups A+B, Tuesday A+C, and Thursday B+C.  Each exercise is then hit twice a week.

Anything else? - Yes!  Foamroll before at least every third workout (ideally before weight lifting and long bikes and runs), and stretch after bike rides and runs.  Foamroll at least the quads and IT bands.