Personal dilemma - Should I be offering advice?

Not a coach either here, but I’m an acceptable age group triathlete who has been coached before.

Depending on where she is in relation to her race and the distance she targets, that plan is not unreasonable. In fact I’ve just reviewed Joe Friels Triathletes Training Bible and he talks about how it can make sense to progress long or ultra endurance athletes towards more specificity. For half and full distance triathletes that specificity is basically a crit or road racers base, meaning we could progress from a good dose of short power workouts towards more sustained efforts. I’ve followed such approach in my running the past season with pretty good results (progressing my weekly interval runs from 400 to 3000m).

Clearly all that is very individual and if she can’t complete her workouts the plan can not be effective. It might be however that she has just uncovered a long neglected part of her power curve or that she is overtesting on the ramp.

If the plan does indeed progress through short towards more sustained efforts I would give the approach a chance, but review testing protocol and workout intensity.


I think the best advice here is for your friend to have an honest conversation with their coach about the difficulties they are having. If I were paying for individual coaching, then 1 of the things I’d be looking for is something tailored to me, and tweaked depending on feedback/progress. That seems something needed at this point.

Great reply @TG333

Joe Friel dislikes the term “reverse periodization”, but that is often the term used to describe this program. It is definitely not what a bike racer needs, but works great for other disciplines.

Not a coach either.
My personal experience with tri training and while using a coach is that if I struggle with a plan, that means that something is not working.

If she can’t finish the workouts, even if it’s a normal plan, than something needs to change.

What have work for me (and what tr usually do on their base tri plans) is one vo2 max or over under, one tempo, one recovery and one long ride (road simulation) with runs being sprints of 400s to 1200s, tempo runs off the bike and long runs (usually less than 15 for half ironmans)

In any case, she should definitely should tell her coach she is struggling with the bike. He is probably also struggling (without knowing more than likely) with running too. Meaning that she could have better running sessions if she was not cooking her legs all the time…

In one of the Inigo San Milan podcasts I listened to recently he questioned why a triathlete should ever do sprint training on the bike. His view is that energy system is simply not needed in triathalon, so why waste time training it at the expense of doing another more applicable session.

Makes logical sense to me. But I have no experience with triathalon - maybe sprint sessions are important for something?:man_shrugging:

Sprint training for running may be different, as I can see how that might improve running form.

I offer advice to friends based on my own experience and let them know that ahead of time. I literally just set up a plan for my friend and told him that what I’m telling him is my way, not necessarily the right way. He’s new to training and wanted to spring into SSB MV but I explained my experience with my first year and how I scaled back to LV with added endurance rides and convinced him to do the same because quality>quantity. I also tend to caution people I know going into HV plans since I’ve never seen someone make it more than 2 weeks in before they blew up physically or got mentally tired from all the work.

I wouldn’t try to advise someone with a coach though, not that all coaches are great but I’d say the VAST majority of coaches definitely have more knowledge and experience than I do, but it’s easy for someone without a coach to overreach their abilities and that’s where I come in to try and help

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Theoretically a short block of SIT (sprint interval training) is not a horrible idea. She might get some gains that bring her up a level. But she should communicate to her coach that she is struggling.

Here is the first couple weeks of TrainerRoad’s half distance triathlete base plan (low-volume):

and full distance triathlete base plan (low-volume):

How do you feel about TR having sprint intervals in their triathlete plans?

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It could be a case where iLevels would be better suited to set her training zones but perhaps her coach isn’t using that software. Just because two athletes have the same threshold, it doesn’t mean they can deliver the same sprint power.

Sprint workouts are a bit different from your typical VO2max short-shorts. They’re supposed to bring you to the point of failure.

See Chad’s replies here: Sprint Interval Training plan?

Also, as he states in the workout description:

The objective with these short, sprint-intensity repeats is to bring about measurable aerobic adaptation in the shortest amount of training time possible.

By repeating efforts performed at maximal intensity, what begin as primarily anaerobic efforts become increasingly aerobically driven.

20 second sprint? Just do a max effort. In Shasta you do a max effort, recover for 5 minutes, repeat. It’s not about hitting a specific power target like sweet spot.

Not sure if you wanted me to answer this but, here goes…

I’m quite surprised. As I said, I’m no triathlete and I’ve never had a reason to look at the TR Tri plans.

The key difference between the TR plans and my friends plan is the fact that there is a range of work being prescribed. All that she has been prescribed for the past two weeks is sprint intervals. Yes, she has the long Z2 ride over the weekend but nothing else.

As my friend is already using TR, I think I might ask if she has even looked at the established Tri specific plans.


Sprint interval training (SIT) can be a powerful tool to use during certain training phases.

Fair enough, I didn’t realise that workout was max effort sprints.

As others have noted, doing HIT intervals in the base period is a solid strategy for long course triathletes. The concept is to build FTP to high levels early in the season and then build towards specificity (going longer) as their A race approaches.

So while looking at her plan, you really need to see the whole thing, not just the block she is on right now. Does the coach move her to move Z2/3 workouts later in the year as her race gets closer?

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FWIW I’m not a triathlete, but for various reasons my coach had me do a few months that looked mostly like that. Happy with the results, versus hitting sweet spot so early in the season.

edit: thinking about it, I hired a coach in August and told him my targets were a July 2021 event with 120 miles / 15,000’ climbing, and 3 double centuries in 2022, so I guess that makes me look somewhat like a long course triathlete (to Power13’s point).

But how long is this block going to last? Two weeks is too small of a time frame to complain about. Does this coach explain to her the big picture? Like ‘we’re going to do some SIT for 4 weeks to get some quick gains and then settle back down into base building’.

Does she even have an event in the future?

So pleased that you asked this question. She has no events in her calendar.

Without sitting in on their meetings and not being paid by your friend I’d be inclined to steer clear. You could end up fuelling a feeling of resentment between her and her coach and at worst ruin a good friendship.

Does your friend also frequent this forum? :thinking:

Sorry but I don’t think you have all the information to comment. Just my tuppence.

To the best of my knowledge, no.

I do however agree with the points you’ve raised.