Starting TR (new user) between A races

I just recently finished my spring A race (Chattanooga 70.3) and have about 14 weeks until my next big half. I’ve read the instructions for “Peaking for Multiple “A” Races” and am aware that the general recommendation is to do a re-build, i.e. to backstep from the end of specialty as far back as the timeframe between races allows.

I’m wondering if this is still the best route for someone who is a brand new TR user and hasn’t previously gone through the full base/build phases?

I do have a strong base in general - I put in 12-16hr weeks leading up to Chattanooga 70.3 and had a strong race there, coming in top 10 amateur female. I’m quite familiar with structured training, having been working with a coach for the past few years. That being said, I haven’t previously had a strong bike focus and I’m a novice when it comes to the TR workouts. Before I was spending 4-7hrs/week on the bike, but most weeks only had 2 rides (one 2.5hr midweek ride, one long weekend ride, both with intervals). My W/kg at FTP is about 3.8 as of now.

I’m planning on picking up the mid-volume 70.3 somewhere. If I were to follow the general “peaking for multiple A races” strategy, I’d start up with build week 3 and go through the rest of build and all the way through specialty. I’m wondering instead if I should go for more of a Frankenstein approach, starting with doing a week or so of base to see how I do with the TR structure, then moving on to do some abbreviated version of build and/or specialty?

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Congratulations on your top 10! That’s awesome!

FWIW: I entered TR last August with a base probably similar to yours (10-14 hrs/week riding) with a CTL of 90-95 (weekly TSS of 600+). I tried starting at Build. That was a huge mistake because I struggled with the threshold and over/unders. So what I did that was very successful was start with SSB MVI. However, as the prescribed volume was too low for my conditioning level, I did approx 1.5 - 2x the duration for the day to allow me to get the volume and the rest between workouts I needed (i.e. High Volume is not a good plan for me). While my FTP has gone up considerably, most importantly, my fatigue resistance is dramatically improved.

So, with that as a background, and given both your conditioning level and goal, I’d probably split the entirety of the time period between your A races on Base and Build with a taper included (e.g. 4 weeks Base, 4 weeks Build, 2 weeks of taper). The focus would be on building fatigue resistance by progressively increasing your Time in Zone (TiZ) in each of the sweet spot, sub-threshold and O/U level (at threshold). If you and/or your coach use WK04, your goal should be to increase your Time to Exhaustion (TTE), a measure of how long you can hold your FTP, to 50+mins.

For me, this approach has yielded over 60mins (currently at 1:04). The reason I suggest it to you is that your bike leg is essentially a Time Trial. By building fatigue resistance you’ll be able to hold your target power longer. There’s a great WK04 video (Building Fatigue Resistance) that you may find useful (Google it). If it resonates with you (as it did with me), you can select +1, +2, etc or import workouts into TR WorkoutCreator (a great tool!) to achieve your TiZ workout goal (#intervals x interval duration).

Good luck!

I think you’d need more than a week of base to figure out if the structure was working for you so @bobmac’s suggestion of touching on all three phases is a good one.

Another view to take could be that as a new TR user you just don’t have enough time to complete the entire BBS cycle:

Thanks for the input @bobmac and @Scheherazade! I think I was definitely a little caught up in thinking of my situation as a bit of a special snowflake… I’ve decide to start out with 70.3 mid-volume base plan for now and see how it goes for a few weeks before making the call on whether I want to just stick out the whole base plan or do a shortened version before jumping into some build.

Just thought I’d drop an update here. I ended up picking a different next A race, which left me about 10 weeks to train instead of 14. I chose to largely follow the half distance base plan, mid-volume without worrying about switching over to build (I might have been scared off by the threshold/VO2 sessions…). That got me through 8 weeks, at which point I started a taper based on both what I’ve done in the past as well as the last couple weeks of specialty.

This was definitely a productive exercise in shifting focus to the bike for me. Before I was only riding 2-3 times a week, and I faithfully got in all 4 of my bike sessions a week. On a few occasions, I substituted a group ride or longer solo ride over a weekend, but otherwise I largely followed the schedule. I almost exclusively rode outside, so most workouts were a bit longer in duration than planned.

I felt great about the sweet spot and tempo workouts and pretty much nailed all of them. The sprint and VO2 max workouts were a different story, I had a really hard time with those and had to readjust my goals. Overall though, I felt stronger and more confident as I made my way through the plan.

For the swim and run, I generally followed the structure but substituted in my own workouts. I swam 3x a week, about 3.5-4k per session. This is about the same as I was doing before. On the run, I did my own track workouts and longer long runs, but did generally keep transition runs and volume as planned otherwise. Compared to before, I was definitely running a bit less to compensate for the extra bike sessions. And I didn’t strength train at all, call the police.

Preceding my last race, I felt pretty confident about my run but much less so about the bike. Coming into my race this time, I felt great about where my bike was at and good enough about the run still.

The race was this past weekend. It’s a challenging course, with 3500ft of elevation gain over 56 miles that’s largely in the second half. Overall I felt great on the bike. I aimed to hold 180W (85.7% FTP as estimated at the beginning of the base plan) and ended up at 178AP/182NP for a 2:45 split. And I felt pretty good and in control coming into the run, a good sign that I hadn’t over-biked. For females, my bike split was the 2nd fastest of the day, and combined with the 7th fastest swim and fastest run, I earned myself the top spot overall.

It’s an N=1 story, so I can’t say whether I’d have been better or worse off if I had tried to incorporate more build or speciality into my training block between races. But I can say that base felt very effective, and I felt great about my bike progress and confidence in a relatively short about of time.