Triathletes and preventing fitness loss

I’ve been on TrainerRoad for 3+ years now each time doing the half distance low volume plan. Each of the last 2 years I’ve lost fitness throughout the specialty phase. In looking at the specialty phase a little closer it seems that weekly tss volumes are less than build. I know tss comes in different forms but I don’t want to lose fitness over the next 7 weeks. I’m trying to maintain my highest ftp this early in the season. I’m considering just doing to +1 or +2 version of the prescribed workouts. But I’m not understanding why I’m losing fitness and why the plan is written with reduced tss leading into an event. Any thoughts?

Peaking means you’re going to lose fitness and gain freshness. WeeklyTSS should reduce and significantly as you approach your A event, and you will necessarily lose a little bit of training load, but what you make up in being more fresh/rested more than compensates for that.

You seem to be describing a taper, which I understand fine and the necessity to lose fatigue over the last week or maybe two and the slight fitness reduction that entails as well. What I’m not comprehending is the slow decline over the 8 week specialty phase. I certainly don’t need 8 weeks to shed fatigue. I’ve also already peaked after the 8 week build, reached my highest ftp. There’s no way I can peak anymore over the next 8 weeks with the sub max efforts that are prescribed. I also understand the need to increase duration of efforts. But why do I lose fitness and ftp over the last 8 weeks of obviously lower efforts?

Most coaches will taper their athletes over a number of weeks. Three or Four is pretty common. I think Chad’s plans do it over three weeks… I’d have to look at specific plans. This slow decline in training stress sheds fatigue slowly while maintaining fitness very high by maintaining intensity while reducing volume significantly.

You are conflating “peaking” with “highest FTP”. Your peak is not the point at which you have the highest chronic training load (rolling six week TSS average). It is the point at which fitness and freshness combine to give you the best performance. In training peaks lingo this is referred to as Training Stress Balance. Your fatigue is low; your fitness is high. You are set up for your best performance. That doesn’t happen with a one week fatigue shedding recovery/rest/adaptation. That happens with a slow taper. This is what Specialty is designed to do.

Your FTP won’t drop during this process in such a way that you need to adjust race strategy, even though you may test slightly lower after a specialty. In a 70.3, you could race at 210W if your FTP is 250W, and that’s fine if you tested that eight weeks ago. FTP isn’t going to go down markedly through the specialty process of executed properly.

Even if your FTP goes down a little bit in the specialty phase, also consider your time to exhaustion and your CP120+ (critical power for over 120min which is HIM). The extended intervals in the specialty phase are designed for you to be able to hold higher watts for longer not just raise your ability to push watts for 45-70min.

I do monitor my TTE and stamina and see those drop as FTP rises. And I absolutely see value in those rising while ftp remains unchanged. However, how will those rise again when performing workouts that are well below threshold- actually in the .7-.8 IF range as prescribed.

The training prescribed in the plan is specific to the demands of your event. You’re training at IFs right at where you should be racing (in the 0.78-0.85 range depending on your abilities as a cyclist and runner). Gibraltar is a very good approximation of a 70.3 bike effort. It’s a little shorter, but if you can finish Gibraltar on the trainer, you’ll be fine on the road, even if you race a slightly higher IF. The shorter ramp workouts, while they only have IFs in the 0.82 range, they are good efforts for approximating the muscular fatigue because of their building nature. You’re getting a lot of bang for your buck with Piute, for example.

This is just my opinion, but you seem to be over-analyzing data that’s not particularly helpful or actionable (TTE and CP120+) at this stage. Even movement in your FTP in the final few weeks isn’t worth worrying about. What’s your plan for the race? Intended IF/NP during your bike? Run pacing? In your past two experiences, have you hit your time goals? Are those time goals realistic for your fitness and physiology? Have you run Best Bike Split based on your planned power to see if it’ll get you the bike leg you want while still being able to run?

Bottom line: losing a small amount of fitness is a fact of life during the run up to your race when trying to force a performance peak. It’s not drastic; it’s not even worth worrying about.

Maybe I misspoke. I would not say these are helpful to try and improve in the final weeks before a HIM but I was merely pointing them out as indications that you are not losing fitness in the specialty phases

No, I agree. They can be useful earlier in training. I don’t think they are particularly actionable. And my point to Andrew was that there is little value to be gained in analyzing this kind of data in the run up to an event. Hell, I can’t remember the last time I really looked at either of those numbers. :smile:

We - triathletes - wrap ourselves around the axle about data way, way too much.

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The real question… what metric says you are losing fitness during specialty?

All of the major cycling specific plans have lower tss in specialty than during the build. Except the oly tri plan, for some reason that one jacks up tss in specialty.

Pretty sure he is talking about an FTP drop based on his second post about peaking.

An FTP drop based on what objective measurement?

I don’t really take subjective measures. Everything I review is done through wko4 so I see tss drops and mftp drop. After spending all winter sweating it out in my basement I want every watt available to me and don’t want to lose anything until the taper at the end.

It’s not like I’m only reviewing this data prior to an event. I have a 3 Year history in wko4 that I look at. I think the data is valuable and I’m asking a question based on results that I’ve seen and unfortunately repeated. I use BBS and was planning somewhere between a .80-.82 IF for the 70.3. I’m a strong swimmer and decent enough cyclist that I can put on a good show before my meager running abilities get the best of me by the end. I just don’t want to lose performance capability over 8 weeks. This may be unique to me and my training, but at the end of build I come out feeling good and ready to compete so I’m obviously concerned about reduced intensity for 8 weeks.

Not much else I can tell you that I already haven’t. If you plan to race 0.82 IF, do it based on your tested FTP after your build. In my opinion, there is plenty of intensity in the specialty phase to keep you sharp for a 70.3. Chad’s plan is a good one. Don’t sweat those numbers.

Outside of that, your concerns may be unique to you and your training, but the odds that you are tremendously different in terms of application of sound training principles is really, really small. As I said before, you are putting way to much stock into numbers that aren’t particularly useful or actionable, regardless of the time of season, but particularly as you approach race day and execute a proper peak.

Regarding subjective numbers everything that is calculated is in some way subjective, including the heralded FTP estimates TR gives you and certainly the modeled FTP from WKO which is just based on the data that goes in. If volume or intensity is reduced prior to a race, the calculation will necessarily go down. You could ride a lot harder for the next 8 weeks and your mFTP might go up, but I’d bet money you wouldn’t race any better; that number doesn’t make you go faster. I recommend you use the FTP you test at the beginning of specialty and race based on that, not WKO modeling.

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One option might be repating the build phase but extending the time in zone. So continue to build without losing the fitness that had experienced in specialty phave.
If you are unique your own way, it means you need change the plan so it works for you.

I would then trust in the plan and ignore mftp. Some of those metrics are based on how much work you’ve done recently but are not necessarily a predictor of performance. I was able to maintain race fitness last season on only a little above 200 tss per week. So ctl of course dropped but i kept getting power prs. This is why a peak eventually does dwindle, but you have to get to a point where your fatigue is low which means your fitness by that metric might drop some.

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