Triathlon plan after SSB for a noobie - what would you do?

Hey everyone,

I started cycling a few years ago and am newish to structured training (started using TR last fall 2019).

I have a high interest in focusing on triathlon and earlier this year set my sights on a sprint distance that would have happened this month but… COVID.

In mid March I was uncertain of what would happen and was discouraged after falling off training in Jan/Feb, so I just restarted with SSB. I’ve since finished SSB LV1 & 2 and trying to decide what to do next.

I thought I’d start my triathlon journey focused on a sprint distance, but with the likelihood being that my first real triathlon will be a year from now I’m considering setting my sights on Olympic distance spring 2021. For the past 8 weeks I’ve also been upping my running and doing some swim strength. Our local pools are going to likely be closed until late summer at the earliest.

So, do I pick a triathlon specific Build plan, or maybe just go with Sustained Power build plan if I’m uncertain of which distance I want to try first. Or perhaps putting an A race on the calendar and using plan builder? I just don’t know where to place that fake A race.

I’m currently only 2.9 watts/kg so lots of room to improve.

Any and all feedback is welcome!

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There are a lot of factors to consider. What are your strengths? What are your weaknesses? Are you a good runner relative to your biking skill? How much time do you have available to train?

Generally speaking, the off-season (which you are technically in due to COVID) is a great time to improve on your weaknesses. For me, that meant really hitting the bike since I come from a running background. You can add a triathlon plan, but race readiness isn’t really your focus yet as the plans take about 20 weeks (although plan builder can be useful to extend out to further race dates. I would add a cycling specific plan now however and just incorporate runs as needed.

As a triathlete, I would recommend Sustained Power Build. It’s a fantastic plan and will really help boost your FTP as well as comfort holding high percentages of FTP for extended durations. From here, you could run through the 40k TT plan to really work your steady state capabilities, or reset back to base for more sweet spot work. Alternatively, since you are focusing on sprint and Olympic distance events which are shorter/more intense, short power build could be another option to raise your ceiling before (or after) resetting to another run through SSB1 & 2 (although you should never actually be in VO2 Land during a race).

Finally, here are a couple TR blog posts you should take a look at when picking your race/plan:

Olympic Plans

Choosing a Plan

Cheers and good luck!


I’d personally do General build. Think it’s a good all rounder that suits Sprint distance races. I’d save the specific tri plans for nearer race time if still long way away and repeat SSB and general build for a while. Don’t forget your runs too!


Good for you :slight_smile:

With the pools closed theres no excuse not to find an open water swimming venue - which will depend on where you are in the world and if theyre open. They can guide you through an introduction to open water swimming and you can get that potential bugbear out of the way early. :swimming_man:t3:

Cycling and running I would continue the annual cycle of training as you would with a race ahead, but not be so strict - take any opportunities to do something unusual as they arise. Go from sweet spot base into sustained power build, then at the end of build decide if there is an event or mock event you want to do like a century ride or something you can do despite covid-19. :biking_man:t2:

Run three times a week, depending on your running background maybe build up to that. If there is a run event or mock event you want to do then consider a easy/tempo/long weekly cycle or just build volume on three easy runs and focus on bike gains.:running_man:t2:‍♂



Thanks so much! That was really insightful!

I’m still very new to running so trying to work on form and not overwhelming my body too soon. I’ve got about 1-2 hours a day to train.

Again, thanks for your response!

Thanks @RobertSims! That’s what I needed to hear, that I don’t need tri specific plans until I get closer and have a race to target.

Thanks @JoeX.

Open water is a good idea, however closest lake is about 50 mins where I’m from so I’m going to see where I can slot some of that time in.

There could be a potential to do our local city half marathon (or 10km) in September. They may still hold it virtually. I think on a recent podcast @chad has talked about doing his runs in a 3:2:1 kind of sequence I believe. So for example do a 10km on Monday, 7-8km Wednesday, 5-6km Friday or brick it with a weekend ride. Would that sort of an idea work or do you think reverse the order and have the longer run at the end of the week?

Also some really good advice all ready in this thread. One thing I thought I would mention, nothing keeps you from doing race “simulations”. You can put your own race on your calendar, and train into you like any other race. I’ve done this over the years a few times. I am a multiple time Nachoman champion (yes there was only one competitor).

But seriously, like JoeX mentioned, on “simulation” race day, I would treat it as a real race. I would take a rest day prior, practice what I ate for breakfast, practice my race nutrition, practice doing one sport into the next. I would say transitions, but I did my solo, so they were kind of messy, but actual practicing transitions would be great!

For me - Nachoman consisted of a open water swim. T1 & T2 was in the family van where I had the bike stashed with wheels on, I could quickly change, do the bike ride, throw the bike back in the van, and then do an out and back run. Not exactly the excitement of a real race, but it allowed me to experience many of the challenging aspects to triathlon, practice stuff I don’t normally practice, and eat some well earned Nachos (post event awards ceremony) .


If you are comfortable with swimming i would really focus on running and biking.
Like other have said, TR do a great job and planning the wo, specially adding the right balance or hard running and cycling.

as a beginner triathlete myself, If you are not used to open water, i would highly suggest you make that your strongest emphasis.
When i started 2 years ago, i froze in place on the swim start of a Olympic distance. I was shaking and couldn’t move.
The race director saw that and switch me the the sprint (half the swim distance) on that day. And I was fine.
I am getting better and the more i do races, the less stress i get. But again, swimming is the thing i would put most of my effort to, at least for the first few months. (or once the pool open)


This is a great idea. Thanks for the tips @MikeMckinney!

@Joelrivera yeah swimming is definitely my weakest of the three. I was in a tri swim class back in the fall/winter, but I feel like I’ll have to re-do it as I haven’t swam in 3 months. Which is fine as I won’t really have anything on the calendar until spring 2021 at the earliest.

I think I’m going to invest in a wetsuit, a bouy, etc and get some open water swimming in as I could definitely see myself being intimidated by the open water if I’m only used to the indoor pool. Thanks for the advice!

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You will probably need a buoy, fins and paddles. Wetsuit is a good idea if where you live is cold most of the year. If you are going to do OWS i would suggest to get an Open Water Buoy (Which is different than the pool buoy to hold your legs high).

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You are new to structured training. If you want to do Olympic distance, great! Do the low volume plan. Find a group to swim with (Master’s Swims are everywhere). Work your way up to more training stress.


Thanks for the recommendations!

This is probably the most important swim recommendation you will ever hear.
I didnt believe it until i finally found a group that was convenient for me (hours of workouts).

I probably improve more in 5 months in the group than 1 year of just swimming with what i learned in the class.

For sure! I joined a class back in the fall. Was on my own for a couple months before pool shut down. I’ll be re joining once classes can open back up. Appreciate it!

When you say class you mean Master’s Swims?
Because technically, they are different.

A triathlon swim class with a certified coach.