Low volume plans + base running

First a little background I am 33 years old, 75kg and have an FTP of 300w. I’ve been cycling for a number of years (structured training for the last 2). I did my first ever Triathlon in June this year (Staffordshire 70.3) and finished in 5:43 (45:07 swim, 2:42:38 bike & 2:02:13 run). The swim was about as expected, the bike I was planning on holding a higher power but fell apart near the end and the run felt like plodding along and surviving. I couldn’t really push the pace at all.

Running and swimming are both new to me (no previous history of either). I followed the full base, build, specialty LV half ironman plan for the race. This triathlon was my A race for the year.

I would like to eventually do a full distance ironman but would like to improve both my swimming and running first. With that in mind I’ve decided to use the second half of this year to work on my running but want to also keep on top of my cycling. I’ve signed up for a half marathon at the end of September and a Duathlon at the end of November (8 mile run, 24 mile bike, 8 mile run). Both of these are B/C type races.

I’ve decided to do lots of easy paced running and to slowly increase the mileage to improve my running base. I think it was lacking during the half ironman which isn’t surprising as running is a new sport to me. I’m currently running 6 times a week (3 short runs, 2 medium length and 1 long). I’ve so far worked up those runs to 3, 6 and 9 miles respectively. The plan is to ever so slowly level up those runs.

I’ve been using this approach for the last 5 weeks whilst also doing SSB2 LV. I think it’s been going pretty well so far. I’ve even added some endurance blocks to the end of some of my rides. Has anyone else used a similar approach? and what results did you see? doing the cycling low volume plans but also running.

My plan is to keep up the same running schedule whilst moving into the General build LV. I feel like I might be pushing up against my Aerobic ceiling with my cycling so thought the general build would be a good way to push that further to help me improve my FTP but also keep some of the steady state power. Vo2max type workouts are definitely the ones I find the hardest and the ones I dread. Therefore I should probably do more of them.

The build plans are usually quite a step up from the base plans. So i’m debating if doing General build LV + running might be too much (I guess the only way to know for certain is to try) Do you think I should just do the cycling workouts from one of the triathlon builds + my running as they are more geared towards doing them with running in mind. Just looking for opinions really. I think the long term plan is to do another 1 or 2 70.3’s next year and then maybe a full distance in 2021.


What are you doing in the ‘medium’ runs? They sound a bit woolly: short and easy for volume; long for endurance; but maybe put some tempo or intervals into the medium runs to give them more purpose.

I suspect General Build will be up to four rides a week? See how you get on. The tri plan will take it into account that you are running and swimming, but perhaps GB is padded out with another endurance-style ride rather than doubling up on threshold or vO2 intervals.

I’m following this running plan https://forum.slowtwitch.com/gforum.cgi?post=1612485

The basics of it are 3 short, 2 medium and 1 long run in a 1:2:3 ratio in terms of distance. I started at 2.5:5:7.5 miles (25 miles/week which is about the max I got to during the tri plan) and I’ve worked it up so far to 3:6:9 (30 miles/week). I’m hoping the slow and steady increase in distance will translate to me being able run faster over longer distances.

As per this plan I will be “upgrading” one of the medium length runs to a tempo type run and then potentially the other medium run to an interval type run. For now i’m just working on increasing the volume/distance.


I’m currently 2 weeks into Barry P, and I should have implemented that running program when I looked at it in December when I was planning my year.

I have done the LV progression since the start of the year SSB I and II --> Sustained Power (swapped with some from the Oly plan depending on how I felt) --> mainly the Oly plan now as I enter week 3 of specialty.

I was getting beat up for the last 2+ months before Barry P by trying to do the FIRST/Furman/Run less, Run faster structure. It was appealing, but both my run and bike suffered because of it. I likened it to the TR of running (which it kinda is), but it is INTENSE. They do heavily recommend NOT doing any other intensive sports while on the program. My fault really…

Running is my limiter for sure (sprint and international duathalons, I train with a 4:30/km threshold). I was a consistent 30-35km a week runner this year up until I started Barry P (upped to 30 miles/48 km, I was ok with that given the direction change).

I’m assuming you are following/looking to follow a similar structure to what I’m currently doing… Bike workouts are the default Tue/Thu/Sat… 3 recovery runs are on the bike days, with at least 1 being off the bike ASAP… 2 medium are Wed/Fri with Wed being a tempo and Fri slightly longer as suggested… Sun is long run. Honestly, I probably would not swap out the other medium run for an interval session.

You truly need to pace the runs as described in the calculators recommended (yes, that is 6:00/km for me on recovery days). For all but the tempo, I target about the middle of the pace range shown. That said, the runs (IMO, again outside of tempo) they should be guided by HR, not pace (though hopefully they jive).

You should be ok following Barry P and the LV progression. I feel WAYYY better now that I dropped the intensity of Furman. But of course, volume is significantly up.

Honestly, this post tipped the scales for me. Much faster runner than me (and probably you), doing Barry P (with no tempo or interval) and significant improvement in both stand alone and triathlon running.

There is value to this approach… I think this quote from the above link sums it up… “I was really enjoying being being able to run so consistently, but before races I frequently felt daunted about the pace that I would be trying to hold (this was usually around a minute per kilometre faster than I was running during almost all of my training). However, this was purely a mental issue and one that would disappear once racing.”


My current training plan is almost exactly as you described. My threshold is very similar to yours (44:53 is my PB for the 10k earlier this year, I think i’m a touch fitter than that now). Currently not doing the tempo run yet but will be adding that soon. Interesting post, good to know it worked for someone a lot faster than me as well.

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Thanks for linking to the BarryP stuff – I’d heard of it, but now I understand what’s going on. :+1:

Might actually try that approach over the winter.

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Have followed the same approach with a fair bit of success. Similar size to you, have dabbled in triathlon on and off for 17 years including a couple of fulls and a bunch of halfs. I really struggle with running intensity, am injury prone when running hard. My take on it is that I have a big aerobic engine from years of cycling and rowing, that allows me to run harder than my form, joints, tendons, supporting muscles, etc can handle and sooner or later things start to break down.

Found the BarryP plan, followed it a few times to get great base, but normally blew it by doing higher intensity running in training, or by entering a 10k or half marathon where not having a bike in my legs allowed me to hammer it hard and injure myself again. Last year I finally learned patience, did a whole year of BarryP base with no speed work, no races, I stayed healthy throughout and saw my pace and HR steadily drop. Finally felt solid enough to introduce some controlled intensity one workout per week, but in all honesty I don’t think I needed to for 70.3 - it would have certainly improved my 5k and 10k pace, but I don’t think it had any impact on the pace I could maintain after a 56 mile bike. Set a 10 minute run PR in my 70.3, and was on course to be 5 minutes faster still but it was a very hot day and I had some cramping issues.

I also found what worked well was that since all my running was effectively zone 2 stuff, I could do plenty of intensity on the bike. I was trying to follow the MV plan but with 2 outdoor group rides which didn’t really follow the structure. With hindsight I’d have been better off doing LV plus the group rides in addition.

Just don’t ask me about swimming, always been my weakest leg and was mediocre once again. Only plus point was getting out of the water late meant having lots of people to legally draft/slingshot off on the bike…

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BarryP is solid. Used it a couple times and works out well.


Mark me down as another BarryP advocate. I tried the TR run workouts for quite some time before that. While I’m sure they’re effective, getting injured every other month was doing my fitness no favors. Now I feel great for every run, my distances are going up 5-10% a week and my pace continues to fall. I hesitate to say this, but I’m actually enjoying running more than (indoor) cycling these days.

I’m sure athletes with a stronger running background can get away with more run intensity, but BarryP has my vote for anyone newer to the sport.

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I also like BarryP a lot, and have heard lots of success stories from people following it. The biggest problem for me with the plan was balancing it with swimming and biking. He does have a section about adapting it for triathlon, but openly admits that it is not ideal to cut back on the running.

Following the 6 run per week plan and maintaining at least 3 TR workouts and 3 swims per week for a total of 12 workouts per week is doable, but I found it very hard when balancing training with work, life, etc. For me that meant close to 13-15 hours per week of training when factoring in all three sports. Over the long term the load left me pretty fatigued for my swim sessions and made the hard bike days pretty painful (more painful than they should be). I found that cutting down the runs to 4 days to be much more doable. I aimed for 1 tempo 1 long and 2 easy.


@Eightball how did the running thing work out. I am currently putting together my plans and am thinking of doing this in conjunction with a traditional base for a few weeks.

Hi, Ye I think it worked out fairly well. I didn’t see any big improvements in my ftp but managed to maintain 4w/kg whilst working on increasing my running volume. The workouts were all hard in the build phase but all seemed achievable whilst also doing 6 days a week running.

I definitely felt improvements in my running from the increased volume. I got up to about 40miles/week at the peak. I have a duathlon in a couple of weeks but after that I plan on doing something similar to you over the winter doing a more traditional base + trying to increase my run volume further.

Thank you. There is no way I can run 6x a week, plus the bike and swim. But I can strive for 4 runs per week. I also MUST do strength training this year. Did well last fall with base – but it fell off. I can tell with work and life that I am not as strong as I had been.