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Off-Season Training for 80/20 Athletes

Here in the northern hemisphere, the off-season is upon us, and athletes like you are figuring out how to train between now and the time you’re ready to start the next race-focused training cycle. For athletes who use 80/20 Endurance plans, this figuring-out process is a matter of deciding which specific plan or plans to follow during the off-season period. The purpose of this article is to provide information to guide these decisions.

There are five different types of 80/20 plans that are well-suited for use during the off-season: Maintenance Plans, Goal-Focused Run Plans, Racing Weight Plans, Stride Academy Plans, and Time Trial/FTP Boost Cycling Plans. You’ll find brief descriptions of each below. Your starting point in planning your off-season is choosing a plan that meets your needs. For example, if you spent all spring and summer training for ultramarathons and you’d like to get back in touch with your speed, pick a Run Faster Plan.

From here things get a bit more complicated. Some amount of mixing and matching will likely be required to keep you occupied from day one of your off-season to the day you start ramping up for your next event. It goes without saying that any strength plan you choose to follow will need to be layered on top of an endurance plan. But there may also be a need to string two or more plans together.

Let’s say your off-season is 14 weeks long and you want to finish it with a Racing Weight Triathlon Plan, which is 16 weeks long. In this case you will have eight weeks to fill before you start this plan. The obvious choice would be to follow the Triathlon Maintenance Plan, abandoning it after Week 8. But there are other options. For example, if running form is your primary weakness as a triathlete, you might fill six of those first eight weeks with a Stride Academy Plan supplemented by maintenance level swimming and cycling.

One thing to keep at the front of your mind throughout this process is load management. During the off-season you need to keep your overall training load moderate so you’re fresh when you start your next race-focused training cycle. Use the volume summaries in the tables below to ensure the plan you choose is well within your load tolerance. The exceptions are cases where your off-season is long enough to allow you to build up to some sort of fitness peak, then recover before starting a race build. Our Build Run Endurance Plans, for example, finish at high volume, so you wouldn’t want to go straight from one of these to race-focused training.

Note that all of these plans finish at higher workloads than they start at. So, if you do end up stringing two plans together, you might want to pad the early weeks of the second plan to avoid an unnecessary drop in training load, hence fitness, after you complete the first plan.

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Maintenance Plans

Our Run and Triathlon Maintenance Plans are designed to help athletes maintain a foundation of basic fitness between training cycles. Their general-purpose nature makes them a good default choice for off-season training.

 

Run Maintenance Plans

Level Duration Composition Initial Volume Peak Volume
0 12 weeks 4 runs/week 2.5 hours/week 4 hours/week
1 12 weeks 5 runs/week 2 hours/week 3.5 hours/week
2 12 weeks 6 runs/week 3.5 hours/week 5 hours/week
3 12 weeks 6-7 runs/week 5.25 hours/week 7 hours/week

 

Triathlon Maintenance Plan

Level Duration Composition Initial Volume Peak Volume
12 weeks 3 swims, 3 rides, 3 runs/week 5 hours/week 8 hours/week

 

Strength Maintenance Plans

The off-season is a good time to place a greater emphasis on strength training, when endurance fitness development is a lower priority. Our Strength Maintenance Plans were designed to build a reserve of strength for athletes to draw upon during their next race-focused training cycle.

 

Level Duration Composition Initial Volume Peak Volume
Running 12 weeks 2 sessions/week 2 hours/week 2 hours/week
Triathlon 12 weeks 2 sessions/week 2 hours/week 2 hours/week

 

Goal-Focused Run Plans

Our Goal-Focused Run Training Plans are designed to help runners work on a weak point in their fitness. The off-season is the perfect time to do this. If endurance is your weakness, choose a Build Endurance Run Plan. If speed is your weakness, choose a Run Faster Plan. And if you’re coming off an injury, illness, or long break and running itself is your weakness, choose a Starting Out/Starting Over Plan.

 

Build Run Endurance Plans

Level Duration Composition Initial Volume Peak Volume
0 11 weeks 5 runs/week 2.5 hours/week 6.5 hours/week
1 11 weeks 6 runs/week 4.5 hours/week 7.5 hours/week
2 11 weeks 6-7 runs/week 5.5 hours/week 9 hours/week
3 11 weeks 8-9 runs/week 7.5 hours/week 11.5 hours/week

 

Run Faster Plans

Level Duration Composition Initial Volume Peak Volume
0 7 weeks 4 runs/week 2 hours/week 3 hours/week
1 7 weeks 5 runs/week 3 hours/week 4 hours/week
2 7 weeks 6 runs/week 4.5 hours/week 6 hours/week
3 7 weeks 7 runs/week 6.5 hours/week 7 hours/week

 

Starting Out/Starting Over Plans

Level Duration Composition Initial Volume Peak Volume
0 6 weeks 3 walk-runs/week 1.5 hours/week 2.5 hours/week
1 6 weeks 3 walk-runs, 1 cross-train/week 2 hours/week 3 hours/week
2 6 weeks 3 walk-runs, 2 cross-train2/week 3 hours/week 4 hours/week
3 6 weeks 3 runs, 3 cross-train/week 4 hours/week 5.5 hours/week

 

Racing Weight Plans

Our Run and Triathlon Racing Weight Plans are integrated training-and-diet plans designed to help athletes shave a bit of excess body fat before they start their next race-focused training cycle.

 

Run Plans

Level Duration Composition Initial Volume Peak Volume
0 6 weeks 4 runs, 2 strength workouts/week 4 hours/week 5 hours/week
1 6 weeks 5 runs, 2 strength workouts/week 4.5 hours/week 6 hours/week
2 6 weeks 6 runs, 3 strength workouts/week 7 hours/week 8 hours/week
3 6 weeks 6-7 runs, 3 strength workouts/week 8 hours/week 10 hours/week

 

Triathlon Plans

Level Duration Composition Initial Volume Peak Volume
0 6 weeks 1-2 swims, 1-2 rides, 1-2 runs, 2 strength workouts/week 3.5 hours/week 4 hours/week
1 6 weeks 2 swims, 2 rides, 2 runs, 2 strength workouts/week 3.5 hours/week 4.5 hours/week
2 6 weeks 2 swims, 2 rides, 2 runs, 3 strength workouts/week 7 hours/week 8.5 hours/week
3 6 weeks 3 swims, 3 rides, 3 runs, 3 strength workouts/week 7.5 hours/week 10 hours/week

 

Stride Academy Plans

There is no better time than the off-season to work on improving your running form. And there’s no better way to work on your running form than with one of our Stride Academy Plans.

 

Level Duration Composition Initial Volume Peak Volume
0 6 weeks 4 runs, 2 strength workouts, 1 drills + plyos session/week 3.25 hours/week 4.5 hours/week
1 6 weeks 5 runs, 2 strength workouts, 1 drills + plyos session/week 3.75 hours/week 5.5 hours/week
2 6 weeks 6 runs, 2 strength workouts, 1 drills + plyos session/week 4.75 hours/week 7 hours/week
3 6 weeks 7 runs, 2 strength workouts, 1 drills + plyos session/week 5.75 hours/week 8.5 hours/week

 

Time Trial/FTP Boost Cycling Plans

Designed mainly as time-trial training plans for cyclists, our new Time Trial/FTP Boost Cycling Plans also work well as off-season plans for triathletes and duathletes for whom cycling is a weakness.

 

20K Time Trial/FTP Boost Plans

Level Duration Composition Initial Volume Peak Volume
0 9 weeks 4 rides, 2 optional cross-trains/week 3.75 hours/week 5 hours/week
1 9 weeks 5 rides, 1 optional cross-train/week 4.25 hours/week 5.5 hours/week
2 9 weeks 6 rides/week 5.5 hours/week 7 hours/week
3 9 weeks 6 rides, 1 optional cross-train/week 9 hours/week 11.25 hours/week

 

40K Time Trial/FTP Boost Plans

Level Duration Composition Initial Volume Peak Volume
0 12 weeks 4 rides, 2 optional cross-trains/week 3.75 hours/week 5.5 hours/week
1 12 weeks 5 rides, 1 optional cross-train/week 4.25 hours/week 7 hours/week
2 12 weeks 6 rides/week 5.5 hours/week 7.75 hours/week
3 12 weeks 6 rides, 1 optional cross-train/week 9 hours/week 11.5 hours/week

 

 

 

 

 

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