Maintenance Question | 80/20 Endurance

Maintenance Question


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    Good Evening,
    I have two questions regarding the Maintenance plan.

    1. Since threshold testing should be done every 4-6 weeks, should I substitute some workouts to do this testing since it is not formally scheduled in the plan?

    2. I’m currently shutting down my racing season early and plan to do the Maintenance plan until next season starts (April/May). I read in other posts that it is not recommended to repeat this plan multiple times. What do you recommend to do instead (other than scheduling races/events in winter here on the east coast.


    David Warden


    Thanks for posting on our Forums. Your first question is addressed in our document Intensity Guidelines for Running (also in our document Intensity Guidelines for Triathlon, not sere which plan you have) the relevant section included here for your convenience:

    Keeping Your Zones Current
    As your fitness level changes, you will need to adjust your zones to keep them current. The easiest way to do this is to perform a Talk Test during a Foundation Run or Recovery Run whenever you feel that you have “outgrown” your current zones.

    Races, of course, are natural opportunities to update your pace zones. For example, if you complete a 5K race during Week 6 of a 12-week 10K training plan, use your 5K time to update your pace zones.

    Many athletes like to update their zones on a regular schedule. If you wish to do so, choose a preferred testing method and repeat it during every second recovery week beginning with the first recovery week of your plan. Note that recovery weeks fall every third week in all of our run plans. Thus, if you elect to perform scheduled testing, you will test in Week 3, Week 9, Week 12, etc. Your zone tests will be least disruptive to the overall training process if you do it in place of the most challenging workout of the relevant week that features efforts in Zone 3 or higher. For example, the most challenging workout featuring efforts in Zone 3 or higher in Week 9 of our Level 1 Half-Marathon Plan is a Hill Repetitions Run (RHR37). This would be the best run to replace with a test.

    Also note that if you are an intermediate- or advanced-level runner and you use heart rate as your primary intensity metric, you probably don’t need to update your zones very often. This is because LTHR doesn’t change a lot with changes in fitness once you’re past the beginner (or starting-over) phase. What you will find as you gain fitness is that you run faster and faster at the same heart rates. Indeed, one simple way to update your pace or power zones is to do a test where you run at your current known LTHR and identify the corresponding pace/power, then plug this number into the appropriate calculator. For example, if you know that your LTHR is consistently stable at 160 BPM but you notice that you’re running faster at any given HR lately, do a run where you lock into a heart rate of 160 BPM and note the corresponding pace/power. Say your pace is 7:07/mile at this HR. This, then, is your approximate Threshold Pace. It’s best to do this particular test within the context of a scheduled run that targets Zone 3.

    For your second question, you are right, the maintenance plan really should not be used for more than 3 months. It’s very difficult to “maintain” fitness for 8 months. Instead, split up your next 8 months into two distinct seasons of about 4 months each, which can include and be bridges by brief positions of the Maintenance plan.

    You say you have no events in winter on the East Coast? In the age of COVID, there is always an event. Find either a virtual 10K, HM…whatever and use it as your anchor for Season 1. It can even just be a solo treadmill event you train for on any date you choose 3 months from now. Season 2 is the same, find a virtual event or just make up your own goal for a PR. Even with a triathlon, aim for a row, bike, run at your local gym.

    Then, you start your formal training for your 2022 events.



    Thanks so much for your reply! I’m currently on the triathlon plan just for reference. For the idea of splitting the 8 months into two 4 month blocks, would that entail me switching to one of the other duration plans (20 weeks etc)? Thanks

    David Warden

    Yes, that’s an easy and reliable option, and you can use the Maintenance plan in between plans for a few weeks at a time to bridge the gap. Here is an example plan:

    Weeks 1-12: 10K plan
    Week 13: Rest
    Week 14-18: Run Maintenance plan
    Week 19-31: Tri Maintenance plan or Sprint plan
    Week 32: Start 70.3 plan


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