Bike Focus for Triathlete

I am a triathlete that is struggling on the bike. Certainly I want to raise my FTP, but am wondering what is a good way of doing this? How does one increase the bike portion for say 2 months and keep running and swimming in maintenance mode?

I’ve gone through Sustained Power Build mid vol 1, a few months ago and was able to run about 20-25 mpw and swim 2x per week. While I saw a little bump in my FTP it wasn’t the kind I was hoping for. Maybe some of that was going into the test fatigued, who knows. I mainly do olympics and sprints.

The run is my strong discipline, but I am coming off the bike spent, at least not running close to stand alone 5K or 10Ks. I know I am over biking, but I feel like if I don’t I won’t be placing in my AG.

I currently sit at 3.38 w/kg. I’m on the small side from being a runner for a long time so not sure if that plays into a low FTP.

If I had the time I would do weekend long rides, but as it sits now with kids and their activities 2 hrs on the trainer is about all I can muster on the weekend. I can do 1-1.5 hr rides during the week.

Looking for some suggestion so I can start in December.

Have you tried the triathlon specific plans? It would be a better way to manage time between disciplines. I’ve done already around 4 full cycles of tri plans and I’m quite pleased with the results.

1 Like

I like the sprint/Olympic plans and Instick with tri plans on the whole because they are design with SBR in mind.

However lots of folk use the SS and sustained power plans.

In either case, if I’m focussed on one sport over another I drop the other sport’s number of sessions per week and take all the intensity out. So in your case a couple of easy (EASY!) 5-7k runs per week, say two c.1500m (one technique, one with base intervals) swims would keep me in the game but create no significant fatigue.

Did you just do the Sustained Power Build or did you precede it with any of the base plans? How did you feel you performed on the tests and how did you feel going through the plan in terms of completing the workouts during the build?

Tests sets are OK but potentially to rely purely on two single tests to quantify improvement can be sometimes misleading for a myriad of reasons.

I did a SSB before the Sustained Power Build. I gave myself a couple of weeks of easy training rides in between the two plans. I felt pretty fatigued doing the the ramp test right before SPB (due to running and swimming), my FTP dropped. I think that was due to tired legs and being in the aero position.

I didn’t do the middle ramp test during SPB due to tired legs. By the end of SPB I was wiped. I could barely hang on the last couple of sessions. I got there every workout though.

The workouts I’m currently doing feel a lot easier so I do think I made some gains. I probably need to take a day off before my next test. I’m thinking of running through SSB before I think about what races I would like to do in 2019. I have two months, December and January I thought I could devote more biking to help build my FTP .

If running is your strength, just have the confidence to almost drop it for a few months to focus on your bike training.
I find run fitness comes back very quickly, and it won’t take a lot of riding to maintain your newly-increased FTP once you start running again.

Similar to you, though I do the half iron distance. My plan is to build my bike FTP. Running is 2-3 runs per week, one being hard intervals. Swimming is on the backburner (not happening) for another month. Currently following the Sweet Spot Base Low Volume plan and supplementing with additional “endurance” intensity TR rides when possible, plus the occasional day out when weather, work, other commitments allow.

I’m typically on the bike or a Wattbike 5 days a week presently…hopefully this will pay dividends in the summer.

If you got through every workout in that series you’ve almost certainly improved more that you give yourself credit for. The sessions at the end of the SPB are tough. It does I think show that to rely exclusively on single tests to judge improvement isn’t ideal given the other variables that can occur both on and off the bike around that single day. A bit like riding a triathlon or TT based on RPE informed by other numbers such as power or HR, your RPE judged over the period of a training block can be as good a judge of improvements, especially as sometimes a 5W change, up or down, can be within Power Meter calibration tolerances.

I think your idea of repeating SSB is a good one. Obviously I don’t know what your numbers are but going though that process with an increased FTP will help to illustrate improvements you’ve made. If you think you’ve improved more than the FTP number generated by the latest test I’d manually adjust the FTP up a little over that and see how it goes. You can always adjust as time goes on up or down based on how things progress.

I came into triathlon from a running background as well but am now in a position where my riding is on a par, if not better than my running relative to others but it has taken a few years of hard work so it is good goal to have.

As said by @GregH have the confidence that your run fitness won’t be hard to regain after a period of concerted bike training. In a similar vein I’ve committed to a winter of swimming and it’s hard watching my bike CTL gradually drop but I keep having to tell myself that I don’t need to be bike fit for a good while and a winter’s swimming is good in the grand scheme of things. All of triathlon training is essentially a compromise from single sport training and the balance will be slightly different for all of us.

1 Like