Sweet spot base for Triathlon (vs tri base)?

Hello, I am new to the forum and new to trainer road (somewhat new to biking other than social recreational riding). I perhaps should have done more research before starting but I jumped into sweet spot base low volume one as it said it was good for 98% of riders to start with I think.
I think I want to go the route of preparing for a half distance triathlon. I may not do one in 2019 but if not I I will do a Gran Fondo and I think the bike training would be similar (since bike distance is kind of similar)?
I plan to finish part 1 of sweet spot base low volume and proceed to part 2?
Following this I am not sure what to move on to? I think I will have more than enough time to do more base (build a bigger aerobic base I understand can only help) so should I do traditional base low volume or should I do the base plan for half distance triathlon?
If I should to traditional base next what do I do after traditional base? Half distance tri base or skip that and go to half distance tri build?
And I assume I would end this cycle then with half distance tri specialty?
Thank you for any direction you can provide.


Are you swimming and running as well?
What plan you choose really depends on your focus - I have followed triathlon plans on here when they first came out (circa 2015) and then switched to pure cycling plans for a couple of years when I had a knee injury that stopped me running. Now I’m back on triathlon plans but generally I’m a much stronger cyclist because of the focus on cycling in 2016/17.

1 Like

I see that Scheherazade as responded asking you about how much swimming and running you are doing as well as that is relevant to the discussion. I primarily do long distance aqua bikes now as i’ve been recovering from running injuries over the last 5 years (I’ve completed 4 Iron Man Canadas, with best bike split of only 6 hours on my Cervelo P3 - which quite frankly I am not comfortably on.)

I started with Trainer Road last January dropping into a build phase program, and bouncing into and out of various training plans. I ended up not a strong as I was in the previous year, where I spun in 3 classes a week in the winter. I did the 20 min FTP test (10 min in the aero bars and 10 min off) for a 235 FTP. I found the WO’s too tough to complete the later intervals and stayed off the aero bars for most of the sessions from January to March. Retested and left off last season with a FTP on the trainer (in the aero position) of 208 watts. And I took too much time off and started with a 169 watts FTP in September using the Ramp test (egads!)

So word of advice do your FTP test in the aero for the purpose of the training program. Train in the aero position, and make sure you stretch those hip flexors!

There is a familiarization process and reconciliation process involve in starting a indoor trainer program on your own, so don’t get disappointed along the way, you’ll figure it out.

This will my first full season with Trainer Road. I have started with the Sweet Spot Mid Volume 1 base plan ( as I do not run that much) and will be following up with the Sweet Spot Mid-Volume 2 base plan, and hope at the end of that phase (Christmas) I’ll back to 208 watts to start the build plan.

Right now I’ve selected the Short Power Build Mid Volume Plan. and later for specialty the Century Mid Volume plan, which will take me the end of April 2019. My A Race is on May 4th 2019 in Pontevedra Spain. Doing the ITU Multisport Aquabike world championship representing Canada. 3Km swim - 120km Bike. The bike will have about 30 KM of 4.5% grade to deal with (3 loops of the course with the longest stretch of hill climbing being about 3 km in duration. I’m pretty good on the flats but people pass me on the bigger grades.

Looking at the Half Tri Build plan I see that you get 2 interval based session and two lower FTP based endurance rides. I get one of those endurance rides now in the base program I have (1.5 hours to 2 hours in length), as well as a short recovery spin earlier in the week) you’ll need this kind of training so do it.

The speciality Half Iron looks good to. I can see riders out here (I’m from Victoria BC) replacing the Weekend ride with a long outside ride.

I’m committing myself this year to doing all of my hard training indoors. Might get outside on occasion to do hill climbs, and any outdoor rides will simply be group rides and or group coffee rides: Recovery!

I’ve been listening to the podcasts current and starting right at the beginning: very informative as the discussions will bring up topics of concern you may have as well.

Hope this helps you.

If you are new to triathlon i would start with their base plans. It will balance the overall tss. Doing a cycling focused plan then adding running and swimming to it will be a big jump in stress unless you were already doing that much work on the bike as part of s/b/r training. The intensity factor for ssb rides will be really tough if you are not used to running.


Thank you Scheherazade. I am swimming and running as well. I swim once a week and try to run twice a week. However, I find it hard to fit 3 TR rides in (as I have 2 young kids, sweet spot base low volume 1 has 3 rides per week) so I may only run once or if I run twice I only get 2 rides in which has had me shifting rides forward in the calendar as I can’t fit the prescribed 3 rides in per week so it is going to take me longer then 6 weeks to complete if I am only getting in 2 rides some weeks :frowning: .
I would say biking is my weakest of the 3 sports right now so I don’t mind getting only 1 run in per week now as I know I can have the most improvement with the bike if I put the time in.
But again, I am trying to figure out how best to choose the bike plans to build my bike fitness.
Thank you.

Thank you Kendal.
I am also in Canada, Vancouver!
I am not worrying about the aero position right now as I am looking for a new, used bike. As I just got into multi sport this year I am using a friends hand me down, old Cannondale, that’s what I have on the trainer (dumb fluid trainer, not smart trainer, and I don’t have aero bars yet).
I am looking for a used aero style bike, something like a Giant Propel and will get some aero bars after I find a bike. It is hard to find a used, relatively new, bike in my size as I am short at 5’4", anyways, that is a separate issue :):smiley:
With respect to FTP I am not really worrying about the number for several reasons.
1 - I am using virtual power as I do not have a power meter so I expect if I ever get a real power meter my number will differ from my virtual number
2 - I did the ramp test to start and it too me over 40 minutes to complete as based on my age and level of fitness I chose it started me out quite low. I ended up getting an FTP of 166 I think it is. I am hoping after I finish sweet spot base part 1 and I do the ramp test before starting part 2, my number goes up
3 - I also understand that your ftp on a trainer can be different that what you can manage when riding outside
4 - so really, my thought right now is to just look for changes and trends in my FTP and not focus so much on the number?

I am also working my way through the old podcasts and just heard in 1 episode that sweet spot base plans are what makes up the base plans for the triathlon plans for the most part (which if true is good news for me since that is what I am doing right now anyway). I have not confirmed this by looking at the plans yet however. So, if true, technically I think I could move from sweet spot base to a triathlon build phase I think?
However, I have more time that this before either the Victoria 70.3 or Whistler, so I am thinking I may do some traditional base workouts or plan to fill the time before I start a triathlon build phase as a bigger stronger base would be good for me I think.

Question - What kind of workouts should I search and filter for in TR to build more base fitness once I am done sweet spot low volume part 2? Endurance, Tempo, …? I am guessing nothing sweet spot level or higher or else I should just do another sweet spot base plan?
I thought I also heard in a podcast that doing traditional base low volume should not be done really (unless you are starting from scratch, with no fitness) as the TSS is too low (also considering I will be coming off of sweet spot base low volume)?

So I guess I know I will eventually move onto a triathlon build and specialty, it is just more what can I add on after sweet spot base low volume before I start a triathlon build phase?

Thank you

Thank you bioteknik.
So, if I hear you correctly once I am done sweet spot base low volume to just move on to the base phase of a plan?
I heard on a podcast that the base phase of the triathlon plans is just for the most part a sweet spot base plan?
I don’t mind doing more sweet spot base, however, I am interested in building a good aerobic base so if doing any other types of workouts (for a longer base phase essentially before I start a build phase), given I will have the time, I am open to it.
Maybe I should load up in the calendar traditional base mid volume plan and just go through the workouts until I need to start a build phase based on my race date working backwards? (as I thought I heard on a podcast that traditional base low volume will have just too low of a TSS?)
However, fitting in 4 rides per week I find tough with 2 young kids, combined with trying to run and swim too.
Thank you

I hate to give conflicting advice, but in your place I would start with the Sprint (or Olympic) distance base low volume plan. I did this last year in prep for a half Ironman plan.

If I recall correctly this is roughly 2 Swims, 2 bikes, 2 runs. That gets you consistently training over six weeks - see how that goes before increasing the volume and distance.

Edit: …and join us in the Ironman thread even if you don’t enter this year :wink:

1 Like

You got a lot of advice, and have given lots of additional information to us. Balancing training, young kids, house, and if your working (Work) with trying to swim, run and bike is something we all have to try to balance.

I think Bioteknik has it right when thinking 2 swims, 2 trainer road, and 2 runs if you are trying to train for the half iron. You are referring to the General build, after the base (presumably starting about January 1st or so of 2019, or maybe later given whistler half is in July. I have glanced at the traditional build low volume (3 spins a week). I’d say to continue to get use the trainer road spins this fall in the base, and see how every thing else balances.

I am a former age group swimmer back in the 70’s and I come out of the water under 1 hour in Ironman, and a minute or so behind the pros and young team Canada triathletes without much training in the swim, and it isn’t worth my time to train more than 3 hours a week. I can get away with that, but most everyone else starts at a very unskilled level in the swim. What ever swimming you manage just try to work on technique. The proof of getting better is simply a consistent stroke count per 50 meters for a given team (what one calls a golf score.) For most the swim doesn’t get much better … it is what it is. The bike and the run is where your not held back from a lack of skill. Maybe swimming is ok for you.

I don’t run off the trainer, I should as I am finding it difficult to find the time for separate runs other than my weekend trail or lake run. as little as 10 to maybe 25 minutes off the bike on your spins can get your extra runs in. That is what I’ll be trying to do consistently this year. that will get in multiple runs a week.

For me, for triathlon, it is all about the bike. and I realized a few years ago that all my outdoor riding gave me some what of a base, but I never improved my time. My fastest bike split was my very first half iron, years ago. I’ve done good work on spin classes, but I’m looking forward to controlling and knowing my training plan and seeing improvements… Now at my age I may not see much, but I like the program.

I think that whatever plan you choose 3 spins sound like more than enough for your first season and with all you are balancing.

PS I’m lucking my only kid is out of the house and my time is my time.

1 Like

There are some good suggestions here. Personally if I was you, i would put of a half iron until 2020 if you can only commit to 2 times a week of running and swimming. Doing a triathlon when you’re undertrained can be a miserable experience if you have a stressful swim. i would do some sprint distance, do some olympics, get used to the schedule demands and work through some of your own hacks to work in 3x/week for each discipline. You’ll have a much more enjoyable day out there when you do race.

1 Like

Thanks @JoeX I will look into the olympic base

thank you @Kendal

Thank you @Bioteknik .
I was able to try a sprint (pool swim) and Olympic (ocean swim) this past summer. Both went well, meaning I finished, but of course I want to improve my times, particularly the in the Olympic. I may end up postponing a half iron to 2020 as an idea after speaking to a friend of mine (as I would rather do an event with a friend) is to do half marathon in Feb, a full marathon (my first) in May and then maybe a gran fondo in the summer. This way I have more time to build my overall general fitness in all 3 sports, aerobic base, durability, …
Thanks again.

Where did you find the course profile for the Aquabike Worlds? I am hoping to compete in the 35-39 age group. (USA doesn’t send qualifier letters till Feb :frowning: )

They just had it posted on Facebook

Thank you, found it. That is lumpier than I am built for… Might need to change my training and diet a bit more than I expected.

I was expecting about 1/3 the elevation that this course will have. 6792 feet of climbing…

I created a mapmyride of the course based off their google maps link they posted.
2019 Multisport Worlds Bike Course (single lap)

Yea I’m not looking forward to 3 laps of 4.5% grades. Might have to switch out my cog from a 11-28 to a 11-30, and replace my small rear derailed to a mid cage to accommodate the bigger cog. I run a 53/39 chainrings, and I do not have the developed strength on the grades that start exceeding 3 to 4%. Looking forward to Spain.

I have a few other items to do to modify my bike. (1) I have UST MAVIC tubeless wheels. I might get carbon UST race UST wheels for spain. Plus I want to get the revolver incline spacers for by bars to get me a more comfortable arm rest position. Lucy Charles as this set up, plus cups for her elbow pads as well.