Triathlete, now Gravel Racer, who doesnt want to stop Swimming and Running

So, I am all about ENDURANCE racing on my bike, particularly big gravel racing. I have been doing 70.3 triathlons since 2017, which is also the same time as I started TrainerRoad. Love it.

In 2020, I was planning on my first Ironman, but COVID happened and I switched to long distance gavel racing with all my fitness I had built up. Happy days. In 2021, I devoted myself to several big gravel races and used Plan Builder to build a plan for my gravel A races (Early Summer and Fall). WORKED GREAT!

However, I really, really, really miss running several times a week and swimming daily. So, what I tried doing this year was merge running and swimming into my Gravel plan with Plan Builder. It worked great for the first 12 weeks. I ran 3xs a week for an hour at 135bpm and swam 3xs a week for 32min (1600m). Nothing crazy. However, after that everything went to hell. I started to fail at recovery and ultimately came real close to burn out. I took a week off of everything, and then cut back running to 1 or 2 times a week and swimming only 1k meters easy. It’s gotten better, but my resting HR is still up from 42bpm to 46bpm, and recovering after hard bike workouts isn’t easy. I can hit my workout goals, but that’s about it. No growth after 8 weeks. Disappointed.

I am 43 with a full-time job and family, but I still manage to get in mid-volume training without any problems. Do I need to say GOOD BYE to swimming and running? I don’t care about winning races, but I would like to be my best on the bike and recover well.

I plan to switch to mtb focus after my two tris this summer (a 70.3 and an Xterra), so I’ll be in a similar boat. IMHO one well-timed and easy 40~min run per week should be enough to maintain a reasonable level of tissue resilience (not what your need for long running races but for well rounded health) without coming at a cost to cycling training. And as for swimming, I find it anything it helps my cycling, again as long as I don’t do a really hard swim to soon before a key bike workout. So again, once a week seems reasonable. I have maintained a strong swim with once a week training for surprisingly long stretches when my schedule has required it. Good luck!

I share your frustration. I had myself on an Olympic tri plan, then a sprint and finally just removed the specialty entirely. (TR defaults to rolling road race when you do that.) I found my specific problem to be that I want to ride long but run short. I like 5ks and 10ks, but love 3+ hour rides. The tri plans are just too event specific for me. (I’d love to do the Half Distance tri plan for riding but the sprint plan for running…I don’t swim…that’s a whole other complaint. :slight_smile: )

I’m leaving the rolling road race plan in place at low volume. That’s just three days a week of TR structure. Then using the other days to add in a long endurance ride or run workouts. Ultimately, I think that’s the trick. Pick a low volume TR plan that will give you the HARD side of the workouts you need, then use the off days to plan your own work for the swim/run. BUT, you have to keep in mind that on a low volume plan, every TR workout will be considered “hard” so you have to balance around that.

Also, you can’t build constantly. You’ll have blocks where you’ll stagnate. That’s good. That’s where the body becomes more efficient at the workload you’re asking of it. Embrace the plateau.

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Yes, had this thought as well. When I’m staying consistent but my ftp and progression levels aren’t improving, I just tell myself I’m adding depth to my fitness, even if I’m not improving in any metrics. Which for me, this year, has been very much the case due to life stresses. Oh yo see the improvements I saw from 2015-2020 again!

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I’m in a little different situation but similar in a lot of ways - did high volume training previously, then moved to triathlon training over the last year. I’ve seen that if you’re doing multi-sport, you can do a lot less cycling and still see big improvements. @Jonathan mentioned it this week on the podcast - doing less cycling, but seeing gains on and off the bike with improved body composition. It goes against some cycling dogma - that running won’t make you a better cyclist, but results are results. Take a look at top-level pros, many of them work a weekly run into their mind-bendingly high cycling volume (van Aert being the most famous example) even though that is TSS they could spend on the bike.

All that to say - you may not need to do as much cycling if you are also doing swimming and running.


Tri plan and modify to suit.

If bike is still your focus, pare down the effort on the runs and see if you can add move bike in.

When you say “merge,” did you reduce training stress on the bike to match or just add these runs/swims on top of your bike training? Did you ramp in on the swimming/biking volume or start straight in with both at the same time at multiple efforts/week?

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