• Is it okay to modify the ready-to-use triathlon training plan?

    Q.  Hi Gale,

    Last week I started following your TrainingPeaks program "Triathlon: Base Period (Winter, Off-Season) Training".

    After the first week is almost done I noticed that the trainings that were an exact match to the training parameters are colored in green while shorter ones or longer ones are colored in red.

    Is it OK if I do a longer ride? For example even if here winter is quite nasty, there are still days when I can go out and do a 50-100km ride. I also like to train for future contests, but I also like riding just for the love of riding. If it ok I do let's say my targeted 30min Z1 @ 90RPM, but then I go for 3-4 more hours, most likely in Z2-3?

    I'm new to training with a rigorous plan and that's why I'm really interested to know if I can have at least one big ride per week when the weather permits it. Also after the first week I can say it feels really easy compared to the MTB XC training I did by feeling/randomly by my own in the summer. I really miss the fact that I'm not suffering that much like I did back then. :).

    With respect, C.D.


    A. Hello C.D. ~

    First, thank you for trusting me to help you on your training and racing journey.

    It looks like you are carrying quite a bit of fitness from your summer of racing and you enjoy longer rides. You can use the training plan as an overall guide and you don't have to follow it "exactly" in order to have success. Some general principles to keep in mind:

    1. The training plan changes weekly volume and individual workout intensity so that over the course of several weeks - some aspect(s) of fitness is improved.
    2. There is typically one longer ride each week in all of the training plans. You may find that you can increase the length of this long ride or, perhaps, add a second long ride due to your fitness. In fact, you can scale the entire plan upward by, for example, 10% because you have more fitness and time than shown in the plan.
    3. If you look at the plan for each week, you will find there are typically 2 to 4 key workouts that are intended to boost fitness. In the off-season, some of the key sessions are in the weight room. For you, I think you need to decide what aspects of your fitness need the most improvement or care during the off-season. Make this decision first.
    4. Once you've decided your fitness priorities, then it is easier to decide which workouts can be modified to accommodate your fitness (and pleasure) priorities. For example, you may decide to add a longer ride the day before a strength session. More than likely the strength session will be compromised. Whether or not this is "okay" depends on your fitness goals.
    5. Suffering - all of us that do endurance sport love some amount of suffering.  ;-)  I find that high-end suffering year-round tends to burn people out so that they are not able to achieve peak performance when they want it. Speed becomes mediocre because workouts tend to be all the same intensity. This goes back to your goals and prioritizing which workouts will be high quality and which ones are for recovery or maintenance of fitness.

     I know this is pretty general, but does it help?


    Gale Bernhardt
    Cycling/Multisport Athlete Development
    Olympic coach, triathlon and cycling

    Become a Fat-Burning Machine:

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