A TrainerRoad Quadrathlon Training Plan

With 2019 well under way and a lot of Christmas excess to shed I decided it was time for a new training plan. To be fair, some of the loss of fitness over Christmas was due to being ill for a few weeks, and over-indulging didn’t help matters. The timing was OK though. I may have been grumpy as I wasted my annual leave sitting on the sofa rather than out playing in the Great Outdoors, but it did at least coincide with some planned downtime from training and forced me to have a few weeks rest.

I may have lost lots of fitness but it did give me renewed motivation.

Time for a Master Plan

I’m always reviewing, updating and tweaking any training plan that I have so as to make it fit with the particular circumstances I’m facing. The New year is always a good time to re-evaluate, decide what your goals are and sketch out a master plan.

This year the goals are simple. Keep Fit, Keep Healthy and Keep it Fun. There are no plans to focus on particular races, no plans to target any championships and no targets to hit. That isn’t to say it’ll be a year off. In fact I’m hoping to improve my fitness and speed overall but without the stress of peaking for anything in particular. I’ll still create a periodised plan so that I mix things up as the year progresses and I’ll still compete but I want to aim to be ready for anything at anytime rather than building towards any specific events.

That said, I would like to be a little fitter and fresher when Cyclocross Season comes around at the end of September. Usually by then I’ve been racing hard all summer and could really do with a break. However I throw myself headlong into the Welsh Cyclocross series. I’m therefore a little flat at the beginning of the season, do little other than race and tick over for a month or so, recover a little during the middle of the season and then finish the year in definite need of a rest. This year I’d like to see what I can do if I start it a little fresher. So, if anything maybe I’ll build towards the Cyclocross Season rather than the Quadrathlon races over the summer.

A Modified TrainerRoad Triathlon Plan

I usually write my own training plan from scratch and then tweak it as I go along. That’s all well and good, but when it gets tough I sometimes wonder if I’ve given myself too much to do. It’s then all too easy to back-off, question the wisdom of my own plan and not stick to it. If someone else (preferably a professional) writes one for me then I’m more likely to try to stick to it.

I’ve recently switched back to TrainerRoad from Zwift as my ‘indoor cycling torture of choice’ so decided to take a look at the triathlon plans that they have. In the past I’ve often followed one of their base cycling plans for winter training, so the triathlon plans looked interesting.

TrainerRoad periodise the training year into:

  • Base Phase
  • Build Phase
  • Speciality Phase

Within these phases they have several plans to choose from. As it’s Winter here in the Northern Hemisphere I’ll concentrate on the Base Phase for now. Within the Base Phase they have a the following plans, most with low, mid and high volume plans based on the amount of training you can (or want) to do.

  • Sweet Spot Base (This is their general base plan for most cyclists)
  • Sprint Triathlon Base
  • Olympic Triathlon Base
  • Half Distance Triathlon Base
  • Full Distance Triathlon Base
  • Traditional Base

In the past I’ve done the Sweet Spot Base and have then added swim, run and kayak sessions to it as I see fit. This year I thought I’d try one of their triathlon plans as these now have run and swim sessions prescribed within them. There has been nothing wrong with my approach in previous years, but the run and swim sessions were a new addition to the TrainerRoad plans and I thought it would be nice to be doing some different sessions just to mix things up a little.

I took a good look through the plans and thought that the Half Distance Low Volume plan looked like a good fit for me. It’s an odd choice as most of the races I do are generally Sprint to Olympic distance races (with a kayak leg added to them). However, for Base training over the winter the longer distances of the Half Distance plan seemed to suit me better. When it comes to the build phase I’ll probably do the Olympic Build Mid Volume plan.

I will of course tweak things to suit me and will be adding kayak sessions to the plan as well. The plans also omit any form of strength and conditioning work so I’ll add that where I can. Here are the tweaks I’m likely to make on a sport by sport basis.

Swimming

The TrainerRoad plans seem to be a little low on the swim training. I guess this is because many triathletes struggle somewhat with the swim and they don’t want to put people off. I guess also that the plans could be aimed at beginners so they want to ease them into it. For me the swim volume was a little low. The workouts themselves seem good though and give me something new so I shall use them but I’m likely to be doubling the number of intervals for most sessions. It does give me an excuse to just have a short swim if that’s what I feel like though.

Cycling

The cycling portions of the plan are understandably built around cycling indoors on a turbo trainer following specific TrainerRoad workouts. The Low Volume Half Distance Triathlon Base Plan has 3-4 rides per week which tend to be:

  • Sweet Spot intervals
  • Short VO2 Max repeats
  • Steady Aerobic Rides

As the Base Phase progresses the VO2 max repeats increase and the sweet spot intervals lengthen in duration. The steady Aerobic rides get longer and longer too so as to prepare the body for the long bike ride of a Half Distance triathlon.

I’ll try to stick to this plan as much as I can, but will try to do some of the longer steady rides outdoors. 2½ on the turbo trainer doesn’t really appeal! It does mean that they won’t necessarily be steady aerobic rides but that’s OK.

Running

The run workouts look good and will be something new to me. A week in the Base Phase seems to consist of a single very short brick run off the bike, a steady run and a run with a few short hard efforts in it.

I’ll tweak this a little as they do seem to have runs on consecutive days scheduled which I try to avoid. This re-scheduling is easy to do though because the first step of the process of adding a TrainerRoad plan to your TrainerRoad Calendar allows you to move the days that you do a particular workout each week around to fit your schedule. I also like to add some plyometrics into one of my runs each weeks as a form of strength and conditioning so will add that to one of the base runs.

Finally, I’m still hoping to continue with my Run around Wales when time and logistics allow so there will be some longer runs here and there which will replace the scheduled base runs too. In fact these longer runs might replace a bike ride here and there as well just so that I can fit it all in. The Coast Path runs tend to take all day thanks to the travelling involved so there won’t be time for two sessions on these days.

Kayaking

The TrainerRoad plans obviously don’t include kayaking in them either so I’ll be trying to fit in two sessions a week. One longer steady state paddle and one interval session. This will be somewhat dependent on wind and wave conditions of course, and if there is any nice surf I’ll be adding in surf-ski sessions as well. These will be more recreational but it is all training and so will be recorded as such. Of course, if its windy then I’m likely to be windsurfing as well.

Recovery

Any good training plan needs recovery built into it as well, so there’ll be a day off each week, and every fourth week will be a lower volume week. You can see that from the TSS predictions on my PMC Chart for the coming weeks.

Sticking to the Plan

I’ll never be able to stick to the plan 100% as life just gets in the way, but where possible I’ll adjust things beforehand to fit in with my schedule. I’ll remove sessions here and there when I’m doing other things and if I feel that’s it’s too much I’ll ease up too. At the moment I’m feeling motivated and the calendar is mainly coloured in green.

Note: The grey coloured workouts were extra sessions not already in the plan, the orange one was because I went for a nice long 3 hour MTB ride in the real world rather than doing an hour on the trainer so I did a little more than planned.

Let’s hope the training calendar remains green for a while. This week has a couple of longer workouts in it so we’ll see how I get on.

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Alan Cole

Alan is a Freelance Website Designer, Sports & Exercise Science Lab Technician and full time Dad & husband with far too many hobbies: Triathlete, Swimming, Cycling, Running, MTBing, Surfing, Windsurfing, SUPing, Gardening, Photography.... The list goes on.