Best plan for a hilly half distance tri?

Hello fellow TR-grinders,

I’ve set my sights on the Mont Blanc tri for next year. The half distance features a 71k bike ride with 1730m of climbing. That’s terribly steep for a tri. I’ve had good results with the half and full distance tri plans in the past, but only on flat courses. Even on mildly hilly courses like Roth I felt like i could have done with less long and steady workouts.

As I’m only using the bike portion of the plans anyway I was wondering whether a different plan might be better suited to the race. Rolling or climbing road race maybe? Anyone tried going for a non-tri Plan before?

Also, could this course favor the road bike instead of the TT?


While I haven’t done this personally, I think doing a rolling road race or climbing road race specialty plan would be a good call if you feel you lack that kind of fitness going into this event.

If the climbing in the course profile shows that it is more consistent and longer, a climbing road race plan would be best but if the course has a bunch of short climbs, I would suggest rolling road race! :slight_smile:

I’ll leave the experiences part up to the triathletes here but that’s my two cents!

Of the two that @Ian suggested I’d definitely go with the Climbing Road Race plan, if it’s a race in the mountains that has 20-30-40 minute climbs followed by 15-20 minutes of coasting downhill.

Having said that I think the best plan would be one like the Sustained Power Build. Any sessions with long 20-30 minute Sweet Spot efforts are good. There are lots of those in that Plan - 2 hour rides with plenty of long sustained intervals.

One other progression I like would be the NorthPack - Aniakchak - Baird Peak progressions from the Traditional Base 3 - anything with those longer sustained intervals. Having just looked again at all the plans you could do a lot worse than mixing and matching rides from Traditional Base 3 High/Mid volume. You could pick 4 rides a week and end up with a longer endurance ride from the Sunday, a threshold session from the Tuesday, and Tempo and Sweetspot rides from the Thursday and Saturday. It depends on your training history and goals of course but that would be a decent mix of sessions for a race with several sustained climbs.

As always there are lots of options within the TR plans, whether you follow one as set out or use progressions from within them to create your own plan to suit you and your race.

As far as which bike to ride, according to what I’ve entered in to best bike split for the half distance tri I have planned I would need to have a very advanced position to save any time, and that is assuming the bike weighs the same as mine. When I put it in as a mid-pack position tri bike instead of my bike, it calculated it as about a minute slower.

The race I’ve got planned in September is very similar in elevation change, so it would probably be similar. There are some sketchy parts during some of the descents according to the website so I wouldn’t want to be descending in aero. The beauty of the road bike is during the descents, you are also putting out considerably less power for those sections.

Quick upload of the .gpx so people can see the profile.
At least it’s no Stelvio with 48 hairpins to bomb down :smiley:

Know nothing about thriatlons so all i can say is good luck!

This is an interesting thread as I’ve just agreed to do the bike leg of a half iron man in Wales next year and it has 1,900m of climbing in 91km. I only have a road bike but doubt that I’d be any faster on a TT bike. Reckon i’ll Be far safer on a road bike as well. I was thinking sustained power build as well as there looks like there are 2 or 3 main climbs which will be 20-30 minutes each.

If you’ve ever been to wales, you will know that the weather will probably be the most variable thing on the day

That does look like a nice progression–it’s in the General Build Mid Volume and Short Power Build Mid Volume plans as well.

I’ll be racing the IM 70.3 Worlds in Nice next year which has a long slog up the Col de Vence which will be hard to train for on the flat prairies, except for using the crazy wind as my “hill” training. I know I’ll be able to grind it out going up, but I’m actually more worried about flying back down! :joy:

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I’m with you on that, I’m not the bravest of descenders :grinning:

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Yep, no laughing matter on the day either I’ll bet.

My first half was +897m and really gave me far more confidence than I had rights to, my second was +1300m but with really only two long climbs, again no worries, my third though destroyed me. Only +1390m but it had no flat sections it was up/down all the way and I fell apart (as did my bike actually).

I think the TR half plan worked well for me in terms of building fitness, but it’s crucial to get out in the hills and start learning to apply those watts consistently, months ahead of race day. I’m still learning now.

I might also go for climbing road race next time to mix it up.

Wow guys, thanks for the input! It appears that my hunch was right to go with a plan that puts a bit more emphasis on climbing and ditch the long aerobic sessions. I’ll prob look closer at climbing road race and sustained power build, maybe adjusting it a bit as I go along. Family and work requires me to go low volume and add TSS where I can. Also, the progression @Ian suggested looks terrible but in a good way!

Regarding the bike the road bike is now set. It descends better and safer and my power output is much higher than o the TT - but that’s a different story anyway.

@wyku Good job on qualifying for Nice! Where’d you do that? I’m still considering to go for it if my wife lets me. If not I’ll at least pre-ride the course sometime this summer when I’m for business there.

Thanks! I qualified at IM 70.3 Calgary at the end of July… Makes for a long wait until the big day lol. My wife and I had been to Nice a few years ago and loved it so it was a pretty easy sell for an excuse to go back, although the prices in September are much higher than February when we went so it’s going to be pricey!