Triathlon Training Plan Suggestions

Hi all

I’m looking for some advice from you kind people.

I have been using TR for the past 18 months and over the past year have followed Sweet Spot Base Low I and II and the Full Distance Triathlon Base, Build and Speciality plans.

Consistently throughout the period my FTP has dropped a few watts each test, and I recently had my worst performance on the bike at IM Hamburg. Today I have the lowest FTP (on the exact same setup) I have had since using TR.

Now i’m not saying this is a TR issue - it is clearly my problem - but I do wonder whether the Full Distance Triathlon plans have been right for me.

I welcome your thoughts on an alternative approach moving forward.



There’s just so many different variables at play here - are you testing well? How is your sleep and nutrition? Life stress? What volume training plans are you using? What’s your long-term training history? When was the last time you took a real break from training?

It’s hard to nail it down to “is this plan right for me?” without a lot more detail. Those training plans are good in a vacuum, but there are a lot of individual needs and circumstances, alongside specific course demands, that might make other options better for your specific set of circumstances.

I can read into your post and think “sounds like long-term/chronic fatigue”, but without further detail, it’s hard to say.

Appreciate your comments


Possible explanations:

  • Stuff outside training that has changed in the last 18 months e.g. diet, recovery, work/life stress, etc
  • Whatever cycling training you were doing before you started TR was a better stimulus for you (e.g. more long distance training, less intensity) and/or was simply more volume which made you stronger
  • The run/swim training you’ve been doing on the TR plans has impacted the quality of your cycling workouts. How’s your swim/run fitness? E.g. is it possible that the TR plans are simply balancing the 3 sports better than what you were doing before, so that you’re faster overall even if you’re slower on the bike? A lot of people who are self-coached and don’t follow a plan tend to spend too much time on the sport they’re strong at and enjoy the most, to the detriment of the other 2 sports
  • You’re getting old and losing a few watts every year is your new reality :wink:

I definetely saw my FTP progress flatten during the TR tri plan progression but still made gains and killed it in Hamburg last year. I was in the LV plans and substituted the weekend rides with longer outdoors rides.

We’ve had a similar discussion in a different thread, it might be that the ramp test protocol is not the best way to measure your gains and you let the numbers psych you out. While your FTP was dropping, did your performance for 20-120 minutes PRs also decline? Because that is where you’d expect gains.

Three more random thoughts / anecdotes:

  • I find that I don’t respond well to the recovery weeks, the ones offered in the plan are too much volume, too little intensity for my taste. I use to rest more and do harder shorter workouts. When I’m under-recovered I don’t test well either.
  • My TT-bike FTP is significantly lower than on my roadbike. I was shocked to see my performance in training races, where I trained on roadbike and raced in TT.
  • I did not race HH this year but was there and had a few mates in the race. They all felt like their bike split was disappointing. The course this year was not particularly fast.

+1 to all this.

Plus, can you say what and when your ftp tests were, and your average weekly tss as the plan progressed?


Thanks for your reply.

Just looked at my Personal Records comparing 2018 (training for IM UK) versus 2019 (training for IM Hamburg) and across the scale all of my values for 2019 are lower - generally between 15 to 30 watts down. 20 mins is 19 watts less this year 105 is 24 watts less this year.

Both these years I followed the TR Triathlon plans - although this year I have done far less random hilly group rides, instead focusing on TR sessions - both indoors and outdoors on the TT.

All of my indoor TR sessions are on the same set up across both years with no changes.

Looking at my own records I can see that in 2018 (1st Jan to 15th Jul (IM UK) I had ridden 128 hrs outdoors and 43 hrs on the turbo (TR).

This year (1st Jan to 27th Jul (IM Ham) I had ridden 105 hrs outdoors and 59 hours on the turbo (TR).

Hi Cartsman

Your last point is very much a reality - now 48 years.

Overall life stress is less than ever - benefit of working from home now. Means greater ability to train during the day thus more morning and evening rest and recovery and better sleep as not coming down from a Cortisol boost.

Swimming and Running both marginally improved during the period, whereas the bike was previously my strongest discipline. Yes it may well be that the other two have increased and the bike has stayed where it was.

Previously I would miss a planned TR session for a group ride. I thought that sticking to pan this year would provide the greatest rewards, but maybe that group riding was actually better for me.

Appreciate your thoughts.

Hi Joe

FTP Test:

Tuesday, Aug 6, 2019 = 238
Tuesday, Jan 15, 2019 = 241
Thursday, Nov 8, 2018 = 245

6 week average TSS is mid 600’s to mid 700’s.

Hi Nash

Weekly hours between 12 and 15 with a reduction in the 4th week down to around 8.

My last complete week off was October 2018.


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If those results are taking from ol’ ramp test, then a drop of 7 watts over 9 months doesn’t seem so bad?

Particularly as you have been training for full-distance triathlon, and thus not needing to train the pointy end of the stick when it comes to power delivery. The ramp test does need several minutes in those zones if you want to see an improvement.

Reads like it’s about time for a few weeks off from structured training. Do you track your heart rate at all?

I’m a big believer in group rides. When I was training for triathlon to be honest I wasn’t getting much value out of TR because I was doing a midweek smashfest group ride and a weekend long group ride most weeks, which only left me 1-2 rides to follow a TR plan by the time I’d fitted in running and swimming. Still doing 2 group rides most weeks but am now only cycling so at least I have 4-5 days where I can follow the structure.

Did try going fully structured and skipping group rides that didn’t fit with the plan, but I just didn’t enjoy it as much and don’t think I got as much training benefit. Group rides are great for digging deep chasing or hanging onto stronger riders, plus they’re great fun, and having fun is what it’s all about, nobody is paying me to do this!

I just finished a Low volume full tri program for my first ironman, loosely followed. I think my FTP grew marginally through base & build, and dropped a bit in specialty. But… I gained a crazy amount of endurance in specialty thanks to those LONG rides. I substituted the long weekend indoor ride with outside riding with similar TSS (guesstimated a route of equivalent tss before hand pretty accurately). I think it worked out pretty well. If I wasn’t feeling great one day I took it off. I didn’t take any scheduled rest weeks; I think my form flattens fast after 2-3 days of rest. That’s my experience with the plan.

Also slightly related, I tend to stick with the 20min FTP test. That’s what I’ve always done, and I’m suspicious the ramp test isn’t great for us triathletes.

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I have been using a mix of the tri plans and XC plans, since I do off-road Tri. My FTP has been pretty flat since build started. But I have gotten stronger and enhanced endurance over the build and specialty plans. I was/am willing to keep my FTP where it was/is for this season to let my run improve. When I stopped trying to use another run plan, and just do what TR had listed for the Olympic plan, things started to come together.

One thing about the group rides: How hard were you pushing it during them? I have skipped several group rides this year as my legs were toast afterwards and other training was negatively impacted. Though I miss the other lessons from group rides (how to keep on that edge, go over it, and bounce back quickly).

Hi there,

For me, those aren’t big enough to be a sign of decline. 7W or 2-3% is within the realms of normal fluctuations.

In January I tested as 247 in the morning and 252 in the afternoon.

My last three tests in aero; Jan 252, Apr 254, June 247 (one week after Ironman Lanzarote).

More of my history (and others) for comparison:


On TSS, I’m assuming that’s including swim and run, so around 250-300 average weekly bike TSS?

Although I don’t think you’re declining, I’d expect some progression - it may be a few weeks off the bike will let you “rebuild” more fully, I would then follow that with SSB/SPB to vary the type of training stress you’re under.

Hi Daniel

Appreciate your comments. and yes I guess you are right about the lack of pointy end work.

Yes i track resting HR and HRV. Usual ups and downs but nothing to suggest chronic fatigue cardioovascularly.


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Hi Cartsman

Looking back I was doing an least an hours long balls out Chaingang and a 3-4hr hilly ride every week. In my ignorance I thought maintaining a plan structure would be better - and maybe it has been from an overall fatigue perspective thus allowing the Swim and Run to improve, but as others have suggested, its probably allowed me to plateau on the bike.



Yes, I just answered your question in a previous reply. The bike sessions were pretty tough and would probably have had a negative impact on other training and overall health.


Hi Joe

Its always interesting to see other peoples figures - one of the downsides of self coaching.

I have Sandman in 6 weeks time and will take a nice long rest after that. Until then im going to start group rides again in exchange for some TR planned sessions and see how things feel.

Appreciate your words



Good luck and let us know how it goes! :grinning: