Long rides in Half Distance Triathlon Plan

Quite surprised that I didn’t find any question for this and sorry if I missed it but I would have expected the half distance tri build or at least specialty plan to have some long maybe even over-distance rides.

Longest ride in mid vol build: 1:45h
Longest ride in mid vol specialty: 2h (twice as far as I saw)

Wouldn’t be a long ride every second/third week or so make sense to do? Like 4 hours with 90km+ on low intensity? Maybe using this long time in the saddle and follow it with a 10 min brick run.

Let’s say someone goes for 2:45h in a 70.3 bike split. The bike split alone is 45 min longer than the longest bike session. I’m not asking provocatively but does this really work for you guys? Is indoor training so effective to make up for long rides?

Note that it’s not about intensity. The mid-volume build leaves me quite wrecked sometimes :wink: Which I might have to evaluate for myself if this is working for me long time. Think it’s too much intensity for me tbh and I would profit from longer lower intensity which makes me less fatigued, but that’s just a thought for my training. That being said, build is targeted to be hard so let’s see

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Last year was my first 70.3 (2nd triathlon). Got into indoor training about 2-3mo before my race and had the same skepticism. Trusted the process and ended with a ~2:50 split at Coeur d’Alene on my 9 speed roadie. No power meter, just paced myself based on the RPE I had during those long trainer rides. Came off the bike feeling great. Trainer rides are a different beast from junk miles outdoors.

HD MV base has 2.5hour ride

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Did you do all your rides on the trainer?

As soon as I got the trainer, yes. Prior to that I was riding on a stationary bike at my gym or would go on the road when the weather permitted.

The high volume plans have some long rides in them (up to 5 hours I believe), but anything over 2-2.5 doesn’t really fit into a ‘mid volume’ plan IMO. I’ve heard suggestions about adding on easy endurance riding to the end of some workouts if you have time, and you can always replace a weekend ride with a longer version if you are feeling ambitious!

They talk often on the podcast about how you don’t need to do race distance or time rides before race day to be ready. It’s about training energy systems after all, on race day you just need to be mentally strong enough to implement your training!

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Hmm… Good point. Tbh the high volume looks appealing to me. By coincidence (?) that’s exactly what I’ve been writing in my initial post. A long easy ride every second week. Awhh… trainerroad you get me :heart_eyes:

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I’m not in HIM build or specialty, but will be doing one after my main season and I will be prepping with as many 3 hour outdoor rides as my schedule allows. Not sure how long of an indoor ride I can handle, 1:45 is ok, 2.5 and longer might be complete misery.

Yeah… I think the occasional long easy outdoor ride keeps the mind fresh.

That being said…kinda enjoy the effectiveness part of indoor training as well.

I did Muncie 70.3 last yer following the mid volume plan. While I tried to stay on my power target for the race, I went over more than I would have liked passing people and going up hills. I felt like I was blown out by mile 50 or so of the bike and the rest was a struggle with some pretty bad cramping. I did >90% of my bike training indoors and feel like I would have benefited greatly from longer rides inside and riding outside more with the surges of hills.

I think that I am also more easily fatigued than the average rider. The mid plan also left me feeling pretty wrecked, and even low volume sweet spot seemed to be a lot for me in terms of being recovered enough between rides to make it to the actual recovery weeks. A lot goes into this like nutrition and running at the same time so it’s hard to narrow down the actual causes for me.

My impression is that if the plan is well followed throughout the season and the race is executed well it would likely be very adequate. In my case, I should have executed the race plan better and could have done more to not miss workouts as much due to fatigue/ bad excuses and improved nutrition. I blame myself and not as high of adherence as I would have liked as the primary reason, not the plan itself.

That being said, I think perhaps some longer long rides would have made me more resilient in the race to the small surges of passing and hills, but at the cost of probably missing other workouts from fatigue the days after those enhanced long ride resulting in maybe giving up some speed in favor of durability.

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I know everyone is different, but in my 7 seasons of triathlon with 6 of those focused on my A race being a 70.3, I have only done 9 training rides over 3 hours with the longest ride being 3:36 and that was preparing for ITU Long Course World’s (120km bike, which was my longest ride due to mechanical issues… :face_with_symbols_over_mouth:). My bike splits have been sub 2:20-2:30 (fastest being 2:10 last year on a few km short course) and all sub 5:00 finishing times (4:19 with the 2:10 bike split, 4:22 with legit course). For me, getting consistent training in has helped my results in lieu of long rides - - of course, the flip side is maybe if I’d done more long rides I’d have better results :man_shrugging:. I do plan on doing a few more this year so maybe I’ll find out, but my point is they don’t need to be treated as the be-all end-all for your training to be successful.

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Interesting and great results! How did you handle fatigue? Did the build leave you quite fatigued sometimes? For me for example it’s the last week of the build before recovery week starts and tbh wheels are starting to fall off meaning fatigue and performance has dropped (happens regularly before getting stronger). So maybe this is intended or I’ve crossed a line already.

All in all I have the feeling the build didn’t work too well for for me because there is just too much intensity and I started becoming too fatigued. I think I improved a lot more on the base plan because I was never fatigued and felt great most of the time. Not a lot of plans have so many minutes at intensity as the tr build. So I’m starting to think that I might be better of with something else, maybe polarized training with 1 hard ride, 1 hard run, a little bit of speed work at the swim and that’s it, rest is easy mileage with a long easy ride

From what they have said on the podcast you are meant to feel like you need that adaptation week.

Well I definitely do :sweat_smile: But still the hardest week ahead of me so let’s see. Today is rest day, maybe I just push through.

Would you consider yourself more of a slowtwitch kind of athlete (diesel engine) or fasttwitch (natural sprinting and speed abilities)? From what you’re describing I would guess you are more slowtwitch.

I think for the diesel engines among us (myself included) those long rides are massively beneficial. And the TrainerRoad plans tend to be a bit too heavy on the intensity side for us, at least for triathletes who also need to swim and run (and do some intensity there as well). I’m a 2:10-2:20 70.3 bike leg guy, and I still do plenty of 4-hour rides, and will go as long as 5 hours on a couple of occasions. Important to note - riding long outdoors does not equal junk miles. Not if it serves a purpose and you know why you do what you’re doing.

For people that are naturally faster/more powerful fast twitch athletes this isn’t necessarily the case. 2 hours indoors is plenty already, especially with tempo/SS work.

So it depends, many ways to skin a cat.

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I would say… absolutely. I’m slow (I haven’t seen under 3:00 on a 70.3 bike split), but the difference between 2 hours and 3 hours is not much. When you compare 2 hours of constant pedal pressure to 3 hours with hundred of mini breaks you take while shifting gears, turning, managing position, etc., it compares quite well. Also, although those workouts target 80-85% of FTP, I find that for an actual race 70-75% is leaves me in better shape for the run. The difference between .81 IF for 2 hours and .73 IF for 3 hours is not even 30 TSS.

Not to say that going outside for a long ride is bad. Better to deviate from the plan to ride more the way you enjoy, or the way that reassures you, than to finish the training block unhappy or doubtful that it worked. There are also plenty of things to practice outside, like testing out how accessible your nutrition is while actually moving, or getting comfortable turning in aero, that you don’t get indoors but can make a difference once you race.

Another thing that I find I don’t need to practice quite exactly like race day is time in the aerobars. On those .80 IF days I probably don’t spend more than 10-15 minutes at a time in aero, although I do it frequently through out the ride and I might do 30 minutes at a time during Whorl, the recovery ride. That was my strategy going into my last 70.3 last year, and I had no trouble staying in aero during the race, popping up to climb some hills and navigate some turns.

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Haha… Now that’s interesting. I’m currently listening to your latest podcast episode.

Definitely more of a diesel. I totally agree that the intensity feels tough after a while. After overtraining/overreaching last year and underperforming (not on tr) I want to be quite cautious. Build is nearly over though and the next ftp test is going to be interesting but I don’t feel I improved a lot. On the contrary I started doing 1 fasted low intensity run a week (60min@65-70%maxHr) that leaves me completely fresh while feeling it improves my fitness. I keep hearing some are struggling with this kind of workout. For running there is room for just 1 high intensity run currently (mostly it’s 4x4min or 4x8min vo2max session) which is okay I guess, a second intensity run would be quite hard to manage for me anyway intensity-wise. Also running is my strongest discipline, bike my weakest.

What intensity do you aim for your long outdoor rides? It might be important to keep in mind that you’re training around 20 hours if I remember correctly from your podcast right? I’m at 10-12 hours a week (recovery about 8h) which is actually not really low volume as well now that I think of it considering the intensity of tr and no long rides. So I might consider “my own tr plan” with rides like: 1 hard, 1 threshold/ssp and 1 long eays ride. So quite similiar to the high vol plan actually.

Thanks and keep doing your podcast as you do, IT IS AWESOME and easily the most interesting triathlon podcast out there for me!!

Better to slightly undertrain than overreach. I also experienced that last year and I have found this year that keeping the volume but reducing intensity, and being more deliberate with how I work in low-intensity days into the program, has helped immensely. I felt on top of the wold until I got sick two days ago, haha :slight_smile:

For my outdoor rides, simply Z2, or I guess I often try to be a bit more specific and be in the upper half of my Z2 which for me is my FatMax-zone.

Yes, you’re right, I train 20 hours or so per week so it is different.

I would also say that you might want to consider doing your easy workouts on TR at a lower intensity, 90% even. Because I do find that sometimes they don’t really feel “easy” when you already have a couple of really hard rides plus the swimming and running to consider.

I use TrainerRoad, but I am VERY liberal with how I use the adjust intensity function, sometimes up, sometimes down. To make it work for me and my requirements. I also don’t follow the plans, but just select workouts that fit what I have planned to work on.

Thanks a lot for the feedback!

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Off topic but what is your ftp to get that sort of split?

True, the easy rides are not really that easy on tr and I found myself lowering the intensity. But that’s just 1 out of 4 anyway in the build :slight_smile:

So after the base (where I saw a lot more improvement, maybe also because of the lower intensity) and the build, I’m not sure if I’m gonna continue with the Specialty plan. It looks less taxing though and could work well for me. Maybe I’m just gonna loosely follow it, swapping in a long outdoor ride (getting a new tt bike and need to learn to ride it anyway)

In any case, the plans did give me rhythm and a base. They got me out of my comfort zone which I might not have done otherwise and improved my ftp to a new pb (still a tri newbie though, so that was kinda expected). And maybe I’m wrong after all and my next ftp test shows some good improvements and overreaching was part of the plan and I just have to make sure to rest up after the build.

Now I’m gonna get back to your podcast and listen to what you have to say about testing so that I can track my improvements :wink:

Thanks Mikael and get well soon!

Last year I did 2:20 on a road bike (was focusing on draft-legal racing so didn’thave a tri bike) and I think I at some point before that race managed to hit 320W for 20 minutes in a workout. I wasn’t attempting to go all out it was actually a progressive segment so I had already done probably 20 minutes averaging 280-290W before that strongest segment started. But it was uphill so that adds some bonus watts. I was 68 kg and my 70.3-power was mid-250s I think (might have been NP, it was a fairly hilly course).

I feel pretty confident based on my training that with the same power or even slightly lower this year on my tri bike and an easier course (Challenge Lisboa) 2:10 is well within reach.

So my watts aren’t super impressive, but I’m light and fairly aerodynamic.