New to TR - Did I choose too high of a volume plan?

I’m new to TR… and generally new to interval training period (in the past I just trained to get the distances in). I completed two IM 70.3s and a marathon last year and plan this year on an Olympic in March, IM 70.3 St. George in May, and full distance IM AZ in November ( my first full distance). I’m 53 and a few years back to working out from Achilles tendon surgery.

I chose and filled my calendar with the base and build mid volume half distance plans to go up until the 70.3 in May, and then the mid volume full distance base/build/specialty to take me to November. I based the choice primarily by looking at the total hours per week that the plans called for in that they were similar to the hours I would put in typically.

I’m on week four of the base half distance plan, and during the first three weeks, I’ve had to cut out 1 or 2 runs/bikes during the week either due to soreness or general fatigue. I’m realizing now that equating the generally lower effort levels of my past workouts to the higher level called for by TR adds up to a pretty decent increase in TSS than what I think I’ve done in the past. I’m hoping this week (it’s the first recovery week so a little less TSS than last week or the week before) I’ll finish all of the workouts.

Now to my question: Should I continue to work towards my goal of completing all of the calendared activities in the mid volume plan under the assumption that my body will adapt to the high workload if I’m wise enough not to overtrain, or should I consider switching to the low volume plan? Or should I wait a few more weeks to tackle that question? I’m really enjoying the workouts and TR in general, but I want to make sure I make the best choices in training to lead to the best outcome in November…

Thanks in advance for any advice…

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Yes consider it, but first consider some other factors;

How’s your nutrition, protein and carb intake especially? How much fluids are you getting in?

How much rest and sleep are you getting?

Are you hitting all the run and swim session, it’s only bike that’s hard?

How much training were you doing the six weeks before starting the half plan?

Have you tried tweaking down the intensity before quitting a session!

You might not need to analyse all these, I’m just giving you an idea of all the factors that are at play here. :slightly_smiling_face:

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I would agree with what Joex had to say and add that if you’re new to structured interval training it’s a lot more work than your run of the mill workout. It may be best to ease into it and let the body get used to the work load. When I started or start a season I prefer the low volume plans. I’ll add in outside rides when the weather permits, and add in some aerobic TR rides to build TSS. I end up doing LV plans all year long and building my TSS by adding in my weekly MTB rides.

Hmm… thanks JoeX …lots to consider. Nutrition is pretty good… although aimed at low carb intake. I do take in food before and after a workout. … and plenty of protein and fluids - I’m good about hydration. Monitoring sleep - averaging 8 hours and getting a good amount of REM and deep sleep per the Garmin 935.

It’s the run and the bike… or… more specifically, one or the other. Meaning last week… I cut down the long ride by half because of a knee issue and general fatigue. Week before it was a skipped run after being really sore from run intervals the day before. I haven’t tried turning down the intensity… and after a 2–3 year bout with the achilles between rehab PT and surgery and rehab… I’m pretty paranoid about any pain that seems different than general soreness- I tend to lean towards shutting down out of fear for injury.

heypoolboy78- my original thinking was that over the course of 3-4 weeks I’d ease into completing all the workouts in the mid plan… I’m still hopeful that will work but second guessing myself…

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JoeX has some great points. Some other point to consider:

  • Make sure your FTP is accurate and realistic (i.e. you should complete your SS workouts with some discomfort but should be doable). When doing the Tri plans I prefer to undershoot on FTP than overshoot.
  • Don’t overdo the runs. There is a lot of speed/VO2 work in the TR run plans. Don’t go too hard until you have built up to it over time. If necessary replace the VO2 work with a tempo run. You can also drop some of the brick runs without affecting the plan too much.

I’m doing the mid half distance plan this year but the three previous years I did either the low volume or some combination of low and mid volume. I’m older so it took a while for my body to adapt to that amount of work.

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May I ask why you are going low-carb?

Nutrition is a highly personal subject, however, the coaches and athletes working here at TrainerRoad have had great success with a shift to high carb diets. For high levels of activity, giving your muscles the glycogen that they need is extremely helpful for managing high training loads. If you look at the elite level athletes as well, this trend of high-carb diets is fairly common as well.

For sedentary individuals, low carb can be helpful for weight loss, but for athletes is can make it more difficult to meet your goals.

If you are looking for pure performance, then I would recommend fueling your body using at least 50% carbs per day. Keep in mind that I am not talking about carbs from white bread and pasta, but rather whole grains, oats, vegetables, potatoes, and other whole nutritious foods. The additional carbs will help to fuel your workouts, lower your RPE, and aid your recovery so it could be worth giving it a try :+1:


Byoungxport- thanks for some great advice! Definitely the run intervals have been tough. Maybe trying to adapt to run and cycle interval training all at once is too much. I’ll look at the runs and maybe not try so hard to get in all the interval work.

I think my ftp is pretty close… I did the ramp test 2x a couple weeks apart. It seems like the intervals are tough but manageable.

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You’ve given me some good info to consider… thanks! I ended up at low carb mid year last year. Started the year at 195 lbs ( my heaviest ever… 5’8”) and started training in earnest and counting calories got down to about 175. I read about the Keto diet and decided after reading a few books to give it a 2 month trial run. This was right after IM 70.3 St. George where I had a tough race from a digestive standpoint :).

After doing Keto for a few months, I lost 22 more lb and got down to 153. I found that with my training (much lower intensity than now, although similar in hours of training), I could get by up until about a 90 minute run or ride without adding carbs. Above that, I would add carbs. That strategy got me through a marathon and IM 70.3 Indian Wells. But I wonder if with the increased demands I’m experiencing now with the intervals… maybe it’s worth some reexamination.


Wow! Congrats on the weight loss, that’s really amazing!

It sounds like you are pretty much at your ideal weight now, is that right?

If you are ready to switch gears from weight loss mode and into performance mode, carbs could be a great addition. A book that a lot of us have read around the office is Matt Fitzgerald’s “Endurance Diet”. It is an in depth study of the diets of elite level athletes, with a lot of key takeaways that we have found positively impact our energy levels and ability to handle stress while training.

Nate (our CEO) is a big proponent of this type of fueling since he has seen huge gains since switching over to high-carb diets while training. He likes to say that if you focus on fueling your workouts first and foremost, you will not only see bigger gains in fitness, but also your body composition will gradually improve as well.

And again, only high-qualty carbs :wink:

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Thanks Bryce! I ordered the book. I’ve read some of his stuff and enjoyed it. I’m back up about 5-7 lbs of “christmas break” weight… but pretty close to goal weight. :slight_smile:

You’re lighter than me for the same height, I’d balance out your diet, focus on quality foods and fuelling your sessions. I’d be surprised if you gained excess weight now. :+1:

Thanks… I’m actually a little over 160 now… (the holidays strike back). But I’m fine with that weight as long as it stays constant. I’ll work on fueling sessions. I’ve started making sure to fuel immediately after each session… I’ll need to think about how to fuel before/during as well.

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