Getting Started with 80/20 Training – 80/20 Endurance

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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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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. See the end of the documents Intensity Guidelines for Running or Intensity Guidelines for Triathlon.

Q: Can I use the auto-calculated threshold identified by TrainingPeaks or Garmin?

A: We don't recommend this. The threshold estimated by TrainingPeaks or Garmin 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.com Structured Workout Plan. Until you specify and setup the 80/20 zones, TrainingPeaks uses default or previously defined zones which will 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 Triathlon, and Understanding Your 80/20 OCR Plan Strength Workouts.

Q: Why are my swim workouts not exporting to Garmin Connect or to my device?

A: This issue is addressed in the document Understanding Your TrainingPeaks.com Structured Workout Plan. At this time, swim TrainingPeaks cannot export swim workouts. 80/20 Endurance has resolved this issue with the 80/20 Workout Library.

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 resolved by ensuring that you use the same 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 will align.

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: Editing your plan 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.
  • 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.

Q: How can I change which day of the week my rest day is?

A: 80/20 plans don't assign a particular day of the week as a rest day, but the rest day is always Day 1 of the week. For example, if you load your plan to start on a Monday, the rest day is always on a Monday. If you load your plan to start on a Sunday, the rest day is on Sunday. 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.com Structured Workout Plan.

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 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.