Tri training plan question

In my opinion, The current swimming and running doesn’t feel like it fits all that well for triathlon. For TR administration- Any chance TR would partner with a tri coach for creating real triathlon plans? This is nothing high tech that’s been discussed before. This is just working to ensure TR bike program gets used with an appropriate swim and run to make a really good cohesive triathlon planning that incorporates fatigue and recovery well. Thanks.


I used the TR Tri plan for an off road iron man last year and I believe the plan was spot on. I have completed several half ironman distance races and numerous Olympic and Sprint distance races but that was ten years ago. I believe TR’s tri plan set me up for success and I executed well on race day.

Also, according to Coach Chad’s TR profile he has been a USA Cycling and Triathlon coach for over ten years.

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Hey! I’m sorry to hear you’re having trouble with recovery and fatigue with your current plan. We can definitely help with that! @Drbeau252 is right though, Coach Chad has over 10 years of coaching experience as a Level I USA certified Cycling and Triathlon coach.

While you can always modify the volume and intensity of your plan, its never a bad idea to look at factors that can be so minute and yet so profoundly impact your training and fatigue, such as rest and Recovery, stress levels, nutrition, and sleep patterns!

You may already have your nutrition dialed, nonetheless, I love this Forum thread for endurance fueling, and this thread for ‘Nutrition Rules of Thumb’ (tons of good articles in there as well). There are plenty of threads on managing fatigue as well, so it may not hurt to revisit and really focus on these off-the-bike tools to see if it helps your recovery, and hopefully makes a positive impact on your training!

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Thanks for your reply, but I think my post wasn’t clear. I’m not questioning credentials. I’m questioning why write a high end plan for bike and then write swim and runs based on RPE? I also happen to notice TR is claiming in advertising pace-based tri training for swim and run… where is that?

I’m really questioning back to back to back, etc of VO2 max sessions between swim bike and run within the same week? This is super high intensity and also fatigue. I’m not convinced the swim and run planning was added with the same consideration as the cycling. I want to stay with TR, but I’m really not seeing value in the run and swim. I’d even be willing to pay more for a fully integrated plan versus the current offering.

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I can help speak to this! While we can’t quantify run and swim stress the same way we can with cycling, its most effectively measured via RPE, or pace-based. Running ‘power’ is in the process of being measured, but it’s still more on the emerging-science end of the science-backed spectrum, so we find RPE to be the most reliable way to structure these workouts currently.

This is based on the descriptions within our run/swim workouts, which are all RPE based, as they relate to a specific pace within each workout!

Totally! To try to speak to the structure of the plan, I do know that Chad calls upon a great deal of research from a variety of sources to ensure that the training is really backed by science, and designed to help athletes get faster. That being said, fatigue is part of that picture, so some rearranging of the structure wont necessarily stimulate multiple energy systems in multiple disciplines without some overlap. Experiencing some degree of fatigue and properly balancing it with recovery is for sure part of the process of getting faster!

If you are able to head into your next block and really focus on those rest and recovery pointers I sent over prior and still feel as though you’re fatigued, it may not be a bad idea to revisit your plan and move to a lower volume. Although, you may find that just taking an extra rest day and catching up on recovery helps you recharge a bit!


Perhaps you can clarify this further… are you equating pace with RPE? Knowing that RPE aligns with heart rate for most people, I’m unclear how this is pace based. RPE is also unreliable and poorly identified as it is subjected to multiple confounding variables. Running power, while not absolutely aligned across vendors, is at least repeatable.

Anyhow, my original question and suggestion was for a way to improve tri training plans, mostly integrate better with Swim and run. My impression, and correct me if I’m wrong, is that you are telling me they are already optimal. If that’s the case, then I can look elsewhere. Thanks.

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I disagree.
But i am new to this.
I think the mid distance plans have a good balance of running and cycling.
Yes, it can be way harder. but i think harder != better for most people.

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Don’t most generic training plans go off some sort of RPE scale? unless you’re using a training peaks plan, but if you’re already using TP you should already have your pace zones set so that shouldn’t be an issue anyway.

Personally I feel RPE is the best option as neither pace nor HR tell the full story, and it’s pretty impractical to assign intervals targeting both at the same time.

Regarding running power, it’s nowhere near on the same level of objectivity as cycling power because the biomechanics are way different. Efficiency between cyclists is pretty similar due to the fairly fixed range or motion, whereas something like running or swimming efficiency can vary considerably depending on technique, foot strike, etc- there’s simply a lot more room for wasted energy, and often a person’s form will change with pace anyway. As such, taking power at one point (the foot strike) isn’t always a good representation of the user’s actual output/effort level.
It’s also not a widely used technology, and it would be a pretty poor business move to write plans based off a metric the majority of people don’t have access to.


Nate recently addressed that run and swim integration is on our roadmap, and our developers are working on it! ‘Upload Run and Swim workouts from Garmin/Strava to TR calendar (Feature Request)’

Happy to clarify this one! Since HR-based TSS estimations are a function of heart-rate readings, these estimations would be subject to the myriad factors that can make HR a less-than-reliable metric (e.g. it’s a lagging indicator of effort, it’s largely influenced on a day-to-day basis by hydration, nutrition, sleep, stress, etc.

We also want to avoid adding unnecessary layers of complication for our athletes, and in the case of HR-based TSS estimations, we don’t feel the benefits outweigh the negatives, which is why we use the athlete’s reported rate of perceived exertion (RPE) for the calculation instead!
For run and swim workouts: that looks like choosing a pace that matches the RPE in the description of the workout.

Admittedly, RPE is also potentially influenced by a number of factors. However, we feel the most straightforward and better solution for TSS estimation is based off of RPE only. There is more information you can look through about heart rate TSS estimations and RPE explained here, but you should feel free to let us know if you have any lingering questions!

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I think most people who come to TR from a running back ground (like i did) are used to the idea of precribed paces. You live and die by the goal pace of the race you are aiming.

I get what TR want to do, it just doesnt align well with what the running community is used to.

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Ah sure, that makes sense! I should post this from or Help Center for folks who need help with RPE and pace:

Also, this existing thread may be useful for you @AndrewL regarding pace and RPE!

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As I wrote in the past, I’m not fully satisfied with TR triathlon plans in their swim and run parts. It’s not an RPE related issue: they just seem poor and boring to me, especially when compared to the DIAMOND LEVEL we found in bike workouts.


I do find it strange how TR can disparage the use of HR on the bike as it has a variety of external factors that can influence it, while suggesting RPE is a suitable alternative for run\swim when those same external factors can influence RPE.


Agreed. Coming from a running background I find the run portions lacking, so I ignore them and use the plans from my run crew. But that’s another monthly fee. I am fine paying for both since I’m able to and really love run group but there’s a convenience factor that’s lacking.

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For the most of us, running doesn’t need to be too fancy in triathlon training, especially for the longer distances.
Pure running plans are more sofisticated, but in Triathlon, you need to get the miles in.
My issue with the tri plans (as well as with the cycling plans) would be more, that it is very hard to survive all the intensity. Especially in the tri plans, you have hard intervals almost every day, on some days twice (in different sports) and on the weekends the long stuff.
For me that was too intense. Now I am trying the Dan Lorang plans on TP, which are better for me to handle.

That shouldn’t mean, Chad is wrong. Joel Filliol follows also an approach, where everyone has to do medium volume, but high intensities all the time. It’s just not for everyone.


The swim and run portions of the plan are definitely sub par against the really good bike sessions and structure. I think ive read that most sub in their own swim/run, its what I do also as RPE and a general lack of detail/structure isn’t enough for me.

I’d love to see the run aspects using prescribed paces i.e. Jack Daniels Vdot paces, or even just generally used running jargon easy/steady/marathon/HM/Tempo/10k/5k etc. I mean you can do some easy runs and they feel horrendous one day with a high HR simply due to fatigue, but the actual training effect remains unchanged, and thats what you want rather than that day’s RPE.

Similarly with swimming, why not use CSS paces? or again standard swimming jargon for prescribing paces for the workouts.



I think this will all depend on your level.
I am seasoned runner, but Im just starting my tri journey (I started 2 years ago).
After creating my first half distance plan (March this year), I looked at the runs and i was like "This is it? Is this your idea of a running wo coach @chad "?
And with that, I started doing my own running thing. And it all went well until it didnt. One day I did was supposed to be an “easy” wo (4x1T with 1 min standing rest). That burned me big time. I couldn’t complete a sweet spot wo 2 days later.
After that i start following the plan as prescribed, and its been much much better.
So, while I agree that the running wo are not ideal for a runner looking to improve on a stand alone marathon, I would say they are ideal for a tri athlete.
There is a fine balance that has to be made between running and cycling and i thing TR got it done here.

In summery. If i was JUST running i would be mad at the TR plan. But as a tri athlete the wo are challenging enough. I did 6x3 @ 120FTP on the bike today. Tomorrow I have a run wo… 18x 30/30. Its a hell of a wo specially after today. But that not the end. On Thursday i have McAdie (look it up) AND a 50min E run.

If you are at an elite level, then this will probably be too easy. I am not. So for me, this is more than adequate, so i can finish my running wo AND my bike wo.


I completely agree with this. In my opinion you are significantly more likely to injure yourself/otherwise screw up your training if you mess around with the runs and start adding additional intensity. I think more experienced athletes can probably get away with it, but for most, it will likely lead down a troublesome path. I think it is probably safer to mess around with the swims (swim with a group or do your own workouts, etc.) since swimming generally takes less of a toll on the body, but I also don’t think that is strictly necessary (and that is coming from someone that used to spend 3-4 hours a day in the pool).

All that said, I do think that the TR triathlon plans definitely favor bike intensity over run intensity. As a junior I raced ITU and naturally had to focus a lot more on my run. Generally, I’d only do 1 or maybe 2 intense rides a week. Fast forward 12 years and after a 12 year hiatus for riding/triathlon (I still stayed generally fit), I was able to pull together a sub 2:15 bike split in a 70.3 after 4 months of following the TR low volume half plan–so I’d say they work pretty well. If you really want to focus on your run, cutback on the bike intensity and follow a run specific plan. Yes, you will not make gains on the bike as quickly, but your running should improve.

I’m not sure it’s the intensity issue, they are very cookie cutter… As
Was mentioned above, they should be using pacing rather RPE, take the Jack Daniels run ranges and apply them to the run workouts, and use CSS for the swim paces.

They very much feel like an after thought and contradict the theory behind the successful bike plans that say don’t use HR/RPE use power.


Its no secret that cycling is TR’s forté, and their tri plans a bike-focussed. Theyve said as much in their podcasts, and thats fine - most people are best off focussing on the bike for many reasons in tri.

Im playing with this idea at the moment.

IMHO there too much intensity in the TR run portion of the tri plans. And over the years and as the science has developed (or as Ive consumed it) Im not so sure a focus on quality/intensity on the bike is the way forward…for me. It seems to me, at the moment anyway, that reducing volume and increasing intensity/quality on the run is a good idea. But you cant have intensity all week, so the bike needs to be doing more of the easy stuff than TR plans currently allow for.