Training for an event that is no longer happening

Hi all, First post here, having been loving TR now for nearly 6 months.

A quick bit of background; 47 years old, I’ve been running for about 5 years, used to cycle a bit but not for a decade or so, novice swimmer. Decided to get into Triathlon to improve my swimming, and mix up my workouts (so not just running), and have been training pretty hard towards a half ironman in September for around 6 months now. During that time my FTP (ramp test) has improved from 154 to 251, following a 6 week plan on Zwift before moving over to TR sweet spot base, then half distance low volume base 1 and 2, with build starting last week. All good so far, and I have really felt my cycling improving, and have rarely if ever missed a session, or my targets within a session.

My current issue is that I have just had my first “bad week”. Not sure entirely why, maybe due to an infected finger I currently have, but I really struggled through the ramp test to start the build phase (lower than the result at start of last block - didn’t update FTP), and almost didn’t complete the following session (shortoff +1). No great drama, I will just push the plan back a week and take a few days off, but it did make me stop to consider whether or not I should update the plan I am currently following, given that it is targeted towards two events that will no longer happen due to the current situation (an Olympic distance in a month, and the HIM in 4 months). So I guess all of that is a rambling precursor to the question: Is it worth continuing with build/specialty phases now, with no particular goal in sight, or should I drop back to the base phases again just to keep me ticking over for the rest of the year? Are there any benefits to working through a build/speciality now, or am I better served by continuing to work on my base? I anticipate that I may end up doing my first event in Spring of 2021.


I was just about to go into build phase when the lockdown started and all the summer races were cancelled. I pretty much just gave up on the structure and rode outside in the spring sunshine all the time, and told myself it was base miles. I’ve now got enough base I think and i’ve naturally just edged back into harder indoors stuff again and so i’m calling this a build phase. I’m playing at occasional Zwift races and enjoying riding for the sake of it with one eye of getting faster just in case autumn becomes non-stop crazy race-fest. Failing that at least i’ll have another year’s productive riding in my legs. It is harder without the focus of a race in the calendar though.

Nice progress so far!

Everybody has bad weeks, you’re lucky to have gone this far before getting your first. As to whether to train for a non-existent event, I’d say go for it. Good thing about triathlon is you’re basically racing yourself anyway. So why not do a simulated triathlon by yourself? Outdoors if roads are suitable and lockdown rules in your country permit it, or indoors if not. Swim bit is probably tricky, but absolutely no reason you can’t go and do a 56 mile bike followed by a 13.1 mile run, all done at race pace. Will give you a chance to see how you respond to the Build and Specialty plans. And will get useful experience of tapering, pacing, nutrition, how well your position holds up (more relevant outdoors than indoors), etc. All of which should help you improve your training, taper and race day strategy as and when you do actually get to race for rea…

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Thanks guys, some good insights. Cartsman, I am encouraged that everyone has “bad weeks”. I’ve certainly had more than a few moments when run training where my legs have felt strangely heavy and I was running through treacle, but this is the first time I have ever really felt overwhelmed by some sessions in a structured training plan. The funny thing is that, in general, I would say TR is incredibly good at hitting that sweet spot between over training and not training enough. I rarely feel as if I haven’t had a proper work out, and I’ve been regularly able to get through sessions that had looked - on paper - as if they would be too challenging, so I’ve learnt to trust TR more as I have gone along. Still not quite sure what happened last week - whether that was over training or I was just run down for other reasons, but feeling much more at it now and going again tonight.
I do like the idea of just doing at least the bike/run parts of this race in September (why didn’t I think of that?), so I am going to plan for that.