Getting Started with 80/20 Training
Thank you for choosing an 80/20 training plan! We want your training experience to be successful. To that end, we have created supporting documents to ensure that you get the most out of your 80/20 plan and recommend that you review these documents in the following order:
- Understanding Your 80/20 Run Plan or Understanding Your 80/20 Triathlon Plan. This guide will teach you how to execute an 80/20 workout, introduce you to the 80/20 intensity zones, and includes a glossary of workout codes. If you have purchased an OCR plan, use Understanding Your 80/20 Run Plan.
- Intensity Guidelines for Running or Intensity Guidelines for Triathlon. This document describes the multiple ways to measure intensity (Pace, Heart Rate, Power, and RPE), but more importantly, how you can identify your individual 80/20 intensity zones through a variety of field testing and the frequency of that testing. If you have purchased an OCR plan, use Intensity Guidelines for Running.
- Understanding Your TrainingPeaks.com Structured Workout Plan. If you have an 80/20 structured workout plan on the TrainingPeaks platform, this is an essential step-by-step guide to setting up your plan and ensuring the intensity zones in TrainingPeaks are using the 80/20 system. If your plan is not a structured workout plan, or not on TrainingPeaks, you can disregard this document.
- If you have purchased one of our Stride Academy plans, review this article before you begin your training. If you have purchased an OCR plan, read this additional document.
- You’ll find additional documentation on our Resources page that covers a variety of other training topics and best-practices.
Here are answers to some common questions we receive:
Q: The 80/20 Run plans are only offered as Heart Rate structured workouts. How can I get the Pace or Power version?
A: Although we only list Heart Rate plans on this site, 80/20 Run plans are available in Pace, Power and Heart Rate. You can view and purchase all intensity types at the TrainingPeaks store. Or after purchase of the Heart Rate plan, simply Contact Us and select the Level Guarantee when prompted, and we will share the Pace or Power plan with you.
Q: Where and how often in the plan do I perform zone testing?
A: Testing is performed every rest week using the RT, CT, or STT workouts or using the Talk Test for any workout. See the documents Intensity Guidelines for Running or Intensity Guidelines for Triathlon.
Q: Can I use the auto-calculated threshold identified by TrainingPeaks, Garmin, or Stryd?
A: We don't recommend this. The threshold estimated by a 3rd party is just that: an estimate. That estimate might be your actual threshold, but nothing will be as accurate as a field test, such as the protocols defined in Intensity Guidelines for Running or Intensity Guidelines for Triathlon.
Q: Why do the zones in the Workout Details and the zones in the Workout Description not match, or why do my zones look totally wrong in TrainingPeaks?
A: This issue is resolved by following the instructions in the document Understanding Your TrainingPeaks Structured Workout Plan. Until you specify and setup the 80/20 zones, TrainingPeaks uses legacy or previously-defined zones which do not align to the 80/20 system.
Q: Which documentation do I use for an OCR plan?
A: You will follow Understanding Your 80/20 Run Plan, Intensity Guidelines for Running, and Understanding Your 80/20 OCR Plan Strength Workouts.
Q: My pool is currently closed. How can I adjust my triathlon plan if I can't swim?
A: Please see our document How to Replace Your Swim Training.
Q: My pace (or power) and heart rate zones don’t line up. For example, when I’m in Zone 2 for pace I’m in Zone X for heart rate.
A: This issue is usually resolved by ensuring that you use one field test to capture the threshold of multiple intensity types as outlined in the documents Intensity Guidelines for Running or Intensity Guidelines for Triathlon. By measuring Pace, Power, and/or HR in a single test, the three intensity types may align. However, due to the inconsistent nature of heart rate, it is normal for a given output to result in a different heart rate on a subsequent day. This is a normal phenomenon when using heart rate.
Q: I'm struggling to stay in Zone 1 or Zone 2. Help!
A: This issue is most likely caused by using default or estimated thresholds from TrainingPeaks or Garmin instead of performing 80/20 field tests for running or triathlon to identify your actual threshold(s). Additionally, you must then also change the default zones within TP to match the 80/20 zones.
If you are drifting into Zone 2 when Zone 1 is called for, or are even having a difficult time reaching Zone 2, this is just fine. While the division between Zone 2 and Zone X (low intensity and moderate intensity) is empirical, the division between Zone 1 and Zone 2 is a best-guess from Coach Matt and Coach David. Both Zone 1 and 2 are considered "easy" in the 80/20 system.
For some runners, Zone 2 intensity is still equivalent to a walk. The good news is that, if it is, it probably won't stay that way for long if you adhere to an 80/20 intensity balance. Even for slower/less fit/older/heavier runners 80/20 is the best way to get fitter, and as you get fitter your Zone 2 pace gets quicker.
Finally, using heart rate as a primary measure of intensity introduces an increased chance of zone compliance issues, and using pace or power instead is recommended.
Q: With high-intensity short Zone 4 and 5 intervals, my heart rate can't "catch up".
A: This is addressed in our documents Understanding Your 80/20 Run Plan and Understanding Your 80/20 Triathlon Plan. Because HR is a lagging indicator, Pace and Power are more reliable methods at high intensities. Absent Pace and Power, RPE should be used for Zone 4 and 5. This issue can also be resolved by using the 80/20 Run and Bike Zones Garmin App, where you can have both real-time HR and your custom 80/20 Pace or Power zones displayed on your device at the same time.
Q: Can I move workouts around?
A: 80/20 Endurance places no restrictions on modifying your plan. However, editing your plan on the TrainingPeaks platform requires a TrainingPeaks Premium account, where you can move workout "cards" from one day to another by simply dragging and dropping them in your calendar. While the workouts in our plans are optimally ordered, you'll certainly have times where you need to change the plan. The art and science of editing a plan is covered in Chapter 8 of our book 80/20 Triathlon, but in general:
- Avoid moving workouts that result in 3 "hard" days in a row. "Hard" means intervals or long workouts.
- Try to maintain reasonable distribution of each sport. For example, it's best to cycle every other day than cycle 3 days in a row and not cycle for 4 days.
- Due to the quick recovery, swim workouts are an exception to the "hard" rule and can be moved at your discretion, while still trying to maintain reasonable swim workout distribution.
- When performing bike and run workouts back-to-back, it's best to perform the workout with the most intensity first.
- Try to keep the workouts all within the same week, as this maintains the precise 80/20 ratios that have been built into your plan.
- Swim workouts are particularly easy to adjust. While still being aware of swim frequency, you can move swim workouts with little consequence. Additionally, to reduce the total number of swims, you can merge two swim sessions into a single set, performing one swim workout immediately following another, a technique not recommended for bike and run workouts.
Q: How can I change which day of the week my rest day is? Or maybe which day of the week my long run or bike is?
A: 80/20 plans don't assign a particular day of the week as a rest day or "long" day, but the rest day is always Day 1 of the week and the longest workout is usually Day 7. For example, if you load your plan to start on a Monday, the rest day is always on a Monday and longest workout Sunday. If you load your plan to start on a Sunday, the rest day is on Sunday and longest workout Saturday. Or, you can just move the rest day and adjust other workouts as described in the question above.
Q: How do I change the start or end date of my plan?
A: If you own an 80/20 plan, follow these simple instructions. If you are on an 80/20 monthly subscription, contact us to make that change.
Q: I performed a new CV test on the swim and improved my 400 or 200 time, but my LTSP increased. Why?
A: This is addressed in our document Intensity Guidelines for Triathlon.
Q: My race is really hilly (or hot, or off-road, or high altitude, etc). How do I adjust my training to prepare?
A: This is addressed in our document How to Adjust Your 80/20 Training Plan for a Specific Course or Conditions
Q: The swim workouts are described in yards, how can I get them written in meters?
A: This is addressed in our document Understanding Your 80/20 Triathlon Plan.
Q: The predicted CTL or predicted TSS in my HR-based plan seems really off. Why?
A: This is addressed in the Q&A of the document Understanding Your TrainingPeaks Structured Workout Plan. We also recommend you read our document Understanding and Adjusting Your Performance Management Chart.
Q: I think I chose a plan that is too hard or too easy for me, can I switch?
A: Yes, please use the Contact Us form and choose the Level Guarantee when prompted. We’ll get you another level within the same running or triathlon race distance for free.
Q: What about a race day plan or what zone should I race in?
A: This is addressed in our Race Pacing guide.
Q: What do you recommend for race-day nutrition?
A: This is addressed in our 80/20 Nutrition guide.
Q: What about strength training?
A: We are strong proponents of strength training for endurance athletes, and offer both free and premium strength plans that plug directly into your 80/20 training plan.
Q: Who is better looking, Matt or David?
A: David. David also has the advantage of retaining the password to this website.