Half Distance Tri Plans 80-85% Workouts


I was studying the Half Distance Tri Plans for my preparation for the next year and I was wondering, why there are so many Workouts in the 80-85%FTP range, especially in Base.
I was informed that this is kind of a dead zone, which I should avoid until specific race pace preparation.
Does anybody know, why it is important to do these workouts in Base/Build?



Do you mean Pioneer and Phoenix and the like? If you look at the week tips there’s some indications as to the thinking behind these brick workouts - working in aero, running off the bike having biked at a certain intensity and so on.
Also the descriptions for the individual workouts say stuff like " Tempo rides are the height of aerobic endurance" which gives you another indication of why they’re included in the base phase.

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Thanks, Scheherazade.
I read the text, but was still wondering, why these kind of workouts are used in the base phase…
I am not a sports scientist, but every book I read (i.e. training bible), says I should avoid everything between threshold and 75% FTP since this is something like the “grey zone” and training there has no real benefit (except training at race pace in peak phase).
So I was wondering, if those race specific workouts are really the best use of training time early in the winter or if it’d be better to do some z2 or sweet spot work instead?

if you look at any other TR base plans you will see lots of work between .75 and 1.0 IF. there’s a huge discussion about the benefits of “sweet spot” training vs a more “polarised” approach. if you want to read more on that route I would recommend checking out the extensive threads Polarized Training Discussion (Fast Talk podcast & Flo Cycling podcast) and Polarized Training Workouts & Experiences (80/20)

concerning the value of pioneer and the progression workouts (.8 IF for 45-105min), @Scheherazade has brought some good points forward. consider that the overall workload in a tri plan is quite high and fatigue management is important. with these workouts you can do relatively a lot of work in terms of TSS/hours, while not carrying too much fatigue to your other sessions. I found the HIM MV base workouts left me fresher with the rest of my plan than LV SSB2/SBP workouts.

(I also find the Pioneer etc. workouts to be quite challenging more on the mental than the physical side, but you adapt quickly)

NB there are many people here that do triathlon off SSB and SPB combinations, so it may be the right fit for some!

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/me shudders looking back at Ochoco… should have done that one outdoors.


There’s different schools of thought, but imo the phrase “grey zone” comes from a time when the science wasn’t well known (not that Inthinknit is now), but all training helps. It’s trying to get the most effective training that people argue/debate over.

Sweet Spot is proported to deliver the optimal training benefit for the time put in, but you don’t want to be ignoring threshold and vo2 max, not easy, aerobic work.

I see the .8-.85 as race prep and I don’t mind doing it in TR Base, but you might want to build a more traditional base outside before you start structured training.


I’m trying this for the first time now, but I will be adding the .8,.85 ‘long’ rides in the last 8 weeks.

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I think that’s a great idea to do it with the Specialty phase. I think historically that’s how the plans were also? there were no Tri plans and then came speciality plans first?

FWIW I felt very bike-fit after SSB2 last year - but I did it with easy swim/runs before I started the HIM progression. I would have had a great bike race for sure. I think @JulianM is doing these plans since a long time? looking forward to hear how you like it!

@danielm totally agree. the longest trainer ride I did last year was I think makalaku with 3.45h. aside from the fact that I started only at 8pm, it was very tough to stay there with the head. respect to everybody who does all long rides on the trainer; or even to think of Traditional Base!


Spot on :+1:

SSB and Sustained Power Build have been my go to plans for a good while now and I’ve seen some decent improvements doing those. I’ve tended replace the shortest interval session in the build phase with a long ride when I’ve been specifically preparing for a race.


I was wondering, do you do SPB up to race week and taper or …?

I’ve planned to do the full SPB then add in taper week from HD Speciality to lead me up to race day.

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That’s been pretty much it. Finish the build plan a week before the race and into a taper week. What I’ve actually done in that final week has tended to depend on travel plans for the week.


The theory that @Amnesty is referring to says, AFAIK, that there is no additional benefit of riding at 80-85% over 75%, but there is extra fatigue. In this case, the theory goes, “more work” doesn’t mean “greater adaptation”. So under that approach you should either do a zone 2 ride or go to sweet spot, depending on how much fatigue you’re able to take.

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