Not super impressed with triathlon training plans

I’m following Tri plans. Currently mid vol (not sure if IM or 70.3 because I build it with planner).
I would suggest first to try the plan rather than saying about running to slow or swimming to less. Last week in mid volume on base build it was 950 TSS. I know that TSS are not everything but well for me I had no intend to run anything faster, especially the 2h long run after 3 days of quite hard bike workouts (+swimming, brick and running).
For me it’s pretty simple: I’m better on the bike, I tend to catch injuries on the run, I swim pretty good (58min IM). I’ve tried running more last year - caught an injury… So now it’s like a matter of common sense to me. 70.3 and IM run pace is to be honest pretty slow - it’s not something in a ballpark of 5k ro 10k pace. So most of the 70.3 or IM runs are more about a survival (just to let you know I’m a 9:07 IM finisher and 4:23 70.3 - I’m not considering this as being slow). So why would I run 10x1km or whatever? I would prefer to put any kind of intensity on a bike (where I do not catch injuries) and running just in a kind of survival mode after bike.
All in all I still see gains in running - I did not run single 1km in last 6 months under 4min/km pace and then on 10k I quite easily broke 40mins…


For the sake of the original question, here’s my experience. I have followed the complete MV/HV HIM plan last year.

As you say, bike was excellent. Got Very fit. But I was also quite happy with the run and swim.

The specificity with the run - as well as the intensity - comes later in the plan. For me there was value in that, even though I had ok run volume before. It leaves energy for the bike workouts. (!!) I’m in no rush and don’t think you need any big specificity months before your race. Better to be consistent and gradually improve. It reduces chance of injury.
IIRC you gradually work up to 3x20min intervals. That’s pretty much what I need for a HM off the bike.
So going from building volume to adding intensity and then prolonging the intervals over which you hold that intensity.

Same for the swim (I didn’t do the drills but swapped in my own program). You work up to holding pretty long intervals, at around race intensity.

I do Tower26 this year and like it, but I don’t expect the same level from TR. the level of detail and feedback for each workout is incredible and well beyond what TR is doing for bike - but at a hefty cost (monthly cost is almost what I pay TR in a year)

Bottom line I got really quite fit, with very good run and swim specificity, using the TR plan.

the TR plan is actually not too far away from what Matt Dixon is doing with purple patch, if you’re interested.


For me the book “Uphill Athlete” was an eye opener: It describes the training purposes for long endurance races very easily: you gain most by pushing LT1 until it gets too close to LT2 (FTP). In this case you push LT2 further to make room for LT1.

It explains why everybody’s training needs are individual. It also helps to give every training a purpose (either pushing LT1 or LT2) . And it helps to understand why MAF and polarized training is very effective for endurance athletes.

Pushing LT2 can be achieved in a much shorter time than pushing LT1. Measuring LT1 is not so easy but the Efficiency Factor helps you at least to measure progress (the same as performing the MAF test).

Completely agree with you regarding the swim/run portions of the training plans; I can see how difficult it would be to create a generic plan however, as run and swim training is very different depending on athlete history/technical ability/speed etc. It would likely require a number of swim/bike/run ‘volumes/ability levels’ which someone could select where they fall across each discipline and mesh them together.

I’m in the middle of the Sprint Triathlon high volume plan, which im actually using for a mixture of sprint and oly races I have coming up. But Ive restructured the training weeks and added my own swim/run sessions around the TR sprint bike template. Do i think the plans will get you fit and prepared for the race its intended for? most likely yes, but its obviously not optimal and isnt going to get you to your absolute best, which I kind of think has to be accepted for a training plan offered via some software to the masses. As a cycling platform I think its more important for them to get the cycling portions on point, and they have that pretty nailed.

For me it’s working well, but im comfortable in developing my coaching plan. There’s been some comments on this thread which are a little scary, especially around running ‘efforts’, as if they are the same for a 5k or marathon race etc, which you seem to understand! People also seem to be trying to use swim/bike/run single sport specific training rather than developing the appropriate triathlon training sessions… it’s 1 sport, not 3. There’s a lot more give and take.


I find the bike workouts in TR Triathlon plans to be highly effective. I looked at the swim and run workouts, and decided to stay with what has worked for me. The shortcoming is that I can’t really compare TSS over time that includes my swim or run or strength training because I don’t go to the trouble of entering those workouts into TR. I guess my expectations for TR were specifically aligned to cycling when I signed up, and in that regard, they have been exactly what I wanted.

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Hey Tim,
I’ve been using the TR plans for triathlon for a few years and I’ve had decent results. In 2018 my focus was on my first IM at Mont Tremblant and 100% of my training was TR. I used LV 140.6 base, MV 140.6 base, MV 140.6 Build, and MV 140.6 Specialty for my build up. I did 70.3 Mont Tremblant at the end of my Build phase and had a personal best 70.3 of 4:35. My IM time was 10:17 8 weeks later. I ended up with a W/Kg around 4.2 all said and done. My splits for the 70.3 were 32 swim, 2:23 bike, 1:33 run. My splits for the IM were 1:09 swim, 5:19 bike, 3:41 run. I was 38yo in 2018. Hope this helps!


That’s really impressive! What is your background?

I ran XC and Track in HS and did alright, but that was 20 years prior. Since then I put on some weight working a desk job. I got back into tri in 2012 after taking a learn to swim course, my swim is quite average. I ended up losing about 10kg during the 40 weeks of IM training which definitely helped. I completed about 99% of all the workouts and did every single ride on the trainer, even the 5 hour weekend rides.

Coming very late to this, but just in the middle of planning for next season (Sprint World Champs in Bermuda assuming it’s not cancelled!).

I used TR to get me to do my first 70.3 last year and it was perfectly fine. As several others have said, the cycling is great, but the swimming and running workouts leave a lot to be desired.

I actually have just sent a question to the podcast specifically about this - asking @chad to explain his methodology for swim/running, as it doesn’t seem in any way as specific or as through-through as the cycling stuff. The running especially feels like it’s a running plan for cyclists who don’t run much.

I expect this is actually fine for 70.3 or IM, since that is pretty much Z2 stuff anyway. But for Oly and Sprint, I’m not sure it really hits the right energy systems for getting a really good 10k or 5k time.

And my swimming is so pitiful that ANY swim training I do will help me improve :slight_smile:

However, I do think it’s a little naughty of TR to offer the plans if they don’t really have the necessary experience either in Triathlon, Running or Swimming. I’d actually prefer them to say: “These are great if you are a newbie to triathlon, but we’d recommend getting your swim/run workouts from XYZ coach/website/whatever”. Or, as @Tim_P has said, bring in an experienced triathlon coach and get them to put some real thought into it.

I love TR. I have encouraged all my cycling friends to use it. I think the team are thoughtful, insightful and genuinely want the best for their users (compared to many others who only seem to be focused on the bottom line). But it kind of feels like they got into triathlon plans by accident and it’s never been properly thought through.

We will see if my question gets answered in an upcoming podcast!

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Oh - and PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE can they add in ‘Duathlon’ to the race options and even to Plan Builder!

It kind of highlights that TR doesn’t really get multisport unless it’s an IM.


I’ve already complained about that. Totally agree with you and leave TR at the end of the subscription.

Would be keen to hear from all of those who have followed their own run plans but used the bike workouts of the TR plans.

What did you change? I am just about to embark on the trio of base, build and specialty half distance for 70.3 New Zealand in March so if I get better running outcomes I would love too.

Lets exclude base and look at the build and specialty HV half-distance plans. Wednesdays are always longer tempo or tempo repeat runs. Thursdays alternate between vo2max/speed intervals or tempo brick runs after a race pace ride. Saturdays seem to be the same as Thursdays and then Sundays are a long run.

When I was following a pure half marathon plan it looked something like vo2 intervals (1, 2 or 3 minutes) or progression runs on Tuesdays, easy Wednesday, tempo or speed repeats (1k or 10-20 minutes intervals) Thursday, easy Saturday and long run Sunday. These workouts were all far more varied than the few that TR have. Is this what people are complaining about or is there another aspect?

Have a look here:


The 3 easy, 2 medium, 1 long protocol seems to be popular, and Ive dabbled with RLRF


I’m not leaving! I just think they could do better for multisport athletes.


Try being one that does off-road triathlons! There are differences in that training as well. I am not leaving TR, as I can’t afford a coach - and their plans give me something to do without having to think about it. More consistency that way. Something is better than the couch.

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Well, you are just a weirdo :stuck_out_tongue:

The last line of your comment is part of my concern.

Overall I really like the TR triathlon plans, but my goal is to simply finish my first IM 70.3 in December.

The longest swim in my plan is 2,500 yards. Other online resources say that people training in a pool need to double or triple (not sure who has time for 3x) open water distance.

Should I be adding an extra 600 - 1,000 yards every time I get into the pool?

I’ve seen improvements in my 70.3 swim time with the TR plans. If your goal is just to finish, you’ll be just fine. Swimming in open water requires different skills though (sighting is a big one) so if you can get some practice OWS in, you’ll be in a good position.

By way of comparison this beginner triathlete plan doesn’t really have anything over 2500yds either: 70.3 Training Plan: 20 Weeks to Your First Half-Ironman – Triathlete


Thanks for the reply and link. I’ll stick to the TR swim distances and relax. I know Nate and Chad have a great deal of experience when it comes to triathlon training, so their recommends can’t be junk.

I’ve done one open water swim before and will do a couple more between now and December.

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I did my first 70.3 in March of this year having restarted swimming a year out from race day and swam 31:00. I gradually built up to a biggest week in December of 4 swims totaling 10,000m. Most swims I would be doing 2,000-2,500m but what’s more important is the quality and following structure. And try for an OWS every week or fortnight. I reckon most people could get away with 3 swims of 2k. The TR swim plans do have a lot of structure so you should be fine.

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