Maximizing Off-Season Training Before Using Plan Builder for Next IM Season

Hey everyone,

I hope you’re all doing well and making gains! I’ve been training seriously in cycling for a year now and have reached an FTP of 275 (started with an FTP of 225) while weighing 77kg. This was my first year of structured training and it involved 3 rides per week-- a 1 hr; 1.5 hr; and a 2-6hr. Over the last two years, I’ve also participated in 3 Ironmans and 3 half-Ironmans. While those experiences have been rewarding, I want to make the next season a breakout year for me, so I’m turning to the expertise in this community for some advice.

I plan to start my specific Ironman training using Plan Builder this coming January. I’m really excited to see how tailored, structured training will impact my race performance. However, before diving into the Plan Builder, I have the months of October through December to train, and I want to make the most of them.

What is the best way to use the three months before I engage the plan builder? I have time/flexibility. Given that I have a decent amount of endurance experience, should I focus more on increasing my FTP, or is it still beneficial to put in a good base of endurance rides? I was considering doing traditional base 1, high volume, part one, and then doing a general build plan at high volume. Is there any consensus on what would be best?

Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance for your insights!

Volume is generally the best base recommendation. I saw huge gains by just increasing z2 riding. Also riding z2 at/near 70% ftp and as soon as that gets easy slowly upping the %. I gradually increased my volume where now my rest weeks are 600 TSS.

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Hey there – welcome to the TR community!

Since it sounds like you’ve been training seriously for a year, we’d advise sticking with more base work since you’re still relatively new to structured training. More base work will probably be most beneficial for you at this point in your endurance career.

If you have a lot of time (~10+ hours per week to train), then Traditional Base could be a solid choice. It could also be a good plan to choose if you simply want a break from higher intensity/intervals.

If you have less than 10 hours to dedicate to training each week, we’d encourage you to look into our Sweet Spot Base plans, which will probably give you more bang for your fitness buck.

If you’re looking to train from October through December, that should give you about enough time to complete the full Sweet Spot Base I > Sweet Spot Base II cycle, after which we’d recommend taking 1-2 weeks off to rest and recover before jumping into your full-length training cycle in January.

Keep in mind that these plans are only for cycling, which may be ok for you if you have your own swim/run workouts in mind. If not, we do have Base/Build/Specialty plans for triathlon as well that would be worth checking out!

Thanks for your response! One follow-up question–If I have only been doing structured bike training for 1-1.5 years, but have been doing structured running for many years, would I still benefit from focusing on base over build during these months? I am not sure how much the endurance base from running is useful.

Thanks for the feedback!

That’s what I was just about to flag - training for Ironman (full or half distance) probably means that you’re already exceeding 10 hours per week (I assume). So, it might be worth considering hours over the week as a whole, plus gym work and any stretching and mobility.

I’m yet to start any form of structured training as I can’t commit at the moment, but right now, I’m focusing on enjoying riding and running as much as possible, working on strength and mobility, and regaining some bodyweight lost over the course of a long summer or lots of volume!

I’d say it depends on how long your typical long runs were over those years. There will certainly be some crossover, but in general, long bike rides will be longer than long runs, which means you might still benefit more from some extra base work on the bike.

Additional base training will also grow your foundation of fitness even larger than it may already be, which will allow you to build up to a higher peak for when it really matters as you get closer to your goal event(s).

If in doubt, we usually advocate for more base training. :slight_smile:

I have a similar question. I have my B event coming up in about 1 week and then my next A event won’t be until September 2024. I want to take a little time off from intense training, but don’t want to lose much fitness. What happens if I start Plan Builder now with my A event more than a year away? Will it automatically build in a “Maintenance” phase? Is a Base Plan considered maintenance? What is the best way to handle this?

Here are a couple of good resources we have on that topic:

Plan Builder won’t give you much of a maintenance phase, but we do offer Enthusiast/Maintenance plans, which can be found here. You can add those to your TR Calendar and follow them as standalone plans before you’re ready to create your next PB plan.

TrainNow could also be a good tool to use in your case. You can do as much or as little volume/intensity as you’d like, and TrainNow will give you recommendations based on your recent riding if you’d like to sprinkle in some structured work every now and again.

Hope this helps! Feel free to let me know if you have any other questions.

Thank you! I’ll check it out