Triathlon plan reviews for the sub9 seeker

Hi trainerroad community! I’ve been out for a while from any specific training objectives due to work but I’ll be in a position to come back to cycling and triathlon in a couple months.

For those of you who’ve been on a triathlon plan of any distance, what are your experiences? I’m targeting an Ironman in 2025 and sprinkle in some road races for funsies, but my end game is the Ironman. My goal is to do a sub-9hr, and curious what your experiences are for the more competitive athletes. Have you felt they prepared you well between the Oly/70.3/full distance races? How balanced are the runs and swims?

I’m a long time swimmer and can comfortably do 3km sets (short course meters) and generally am about the 1hr IM swim finish time, about 27 minutes for most 70.3. My running is typically the weakest leg (ha-ha), and have typically ran about 30 miles per week on a triathlon schedule on average.

Good Timing on your return to TR for triathlon. IMO, the triathlon plans in the past needed a lot of tweaking or awkward patching together. Many of the fantastic recent upgrades happened first in cycling only (which made sense for a cycling platform) but with no idea of when that would be rolled out to triathlon I began to look elsewhere at the end of last year. Some folks (i’ve done this) would just build out a cycling plan and put in their swim/runs around that. TR, at that time, did not account for swim/runs anyway . I spent time early this year dabbling with other AI based training platforms, looking at old paper plans and comparing my custom coached plans of the past . I even purchased a new plan from somewhere else and planned to drop TR… ThenTR announced a rollout on triathlon plans that included improvements they had already rolled out on the cycling front and it has been a bit of a game changer. I ended up back here at TR and am following closely the progress their new RLGL function and their Masters adaptations. I’m a month or so into a Master Half plan and so far it’s been pretty good.

The new features - Master work:recovery ratio, weekly duration customization, and RLGL made the tri plans much much better, IMO. And of course, the inclusion of those other sports into their overall Adaptive Training. Now I’m watching to see how/when swims are fulling incorporated (?).

There will always be a need for personal customization on any training plans whether that is scheduling, duration or sport focus, so a key feature of a training platform that I look for is providing tools for users to do that customization all within the platform. TR has gotten much much better at that. One of things I like best at TR is the transparency of how they are building out features. The podcasts and forum engagement are way, way above average on that front.

My unreasonable wish list is 1) a future feature that allows customization of sport specific focus within the phases of a tri training plan. So if a particular sport is a big strength or big weakness (permanent or temporary) you can tilt the focus of the plan towards (or away from) that sport in different phases.2) the ability to proactively build in a short sport specific training block anywhere within the custom program.

Good luck with your tri training

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Sub 9 is really salty. 1 hr swim is a great place to start though :rofl:


First I would suggest asking over here The Ironman Training Thread 2024 - #38 by pstalley there are some fast guys/girls that visit that thread. The number of people targeting sub 9 is pretty small and your thread title isn’t likely getting their attention.

I haven’t looked at the new plans, I had used the 70.3 plans up to 2022,. I didn’t like the run sessions, the swims were okay, but having a strong swim back ground, I found alternatives that I preferred that were like swim team practice.

I raced my 6th IM last year, used a different company’s plan, the secret sauce of training plans isn’t the plan, but if can you do a plans volume, appropriately recover, and hit all the workouts consistently. I think the new features TR is bringing will make their plans more enticing as a complete package when I return to racing in the future.

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I made a snappier title and the reply should bump this up :joy:

@smooh thanks for your experience with the plans. Agree they all need a bit of customization to focus on the athletes needs since tri is a pretty complex puzzle to try and have an AI figure out. Glad you think it’s got the flexible tools to work with, it’s encouraging!


Being a HS swimmer and collegiate triathlete gave me a pretty high floor for swimming. A couple weeks in the pool and technique is back, and a few months of consistent 3-4x/wk and the fitness is good enough.

Not enough for pros of course but it’s plenty to work with for an aspirational age grouper :grin: I’ll always be thankful for that!

My favourite is probably the Olympic plan, as you can have frequent shorter workouts at fun intensity, and a good plan to start if you’re getting back into it and/or new to this kind of structured training.

I’ve used the plans for all distances and yes I think they prepped me well. There’s more than enough work for 99% of triathletes but you might be doing a lot more.

How much you alter and how is going to be down to you as an individual…and the sub 9 goal. How many times have you gone sub 10, what is your target course, and how long has it been since you were putting in 15+ hour weeks?

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I am currently doing 15 hour weeks but it’s mostly for marathon focused training. Should have a pretty clean training calendar in terms of life events from Feb thru Sep 2025.

Sub 9 is my goal given ideal race conditions and execution. I’ll take whatever I get with a grain of salt of course but that’s the strive. Targeting IM Ireland if they host in 2025! Only full was in 2016 but I was completing not racing. Done a lot of 70.3s around 4:30, but fully acknowledge it’s a very different race.

Over the years I’d say there are two approaches to elite triathlons that have seen Kona qualifiers succeed; the low volume Ironman plan as a base plus additional outdoor riding and the (bike only) general base + sustained power build adding your own swim/bike sessions.

If you have a look back through the Ironman training threads there’s a few individuals in a similar space to yourself, but if there’s any surprising I’d say it’s that they aren’t particularly different to racers at lower performance levels except that they are faster and generally consistent.

Given the time it takes to train, I tend to do a variety of plans through the year and then focus on full distance for the last three months before an Ironman. I find I get more enjoyment and consistency that way/

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