Substitute for Some Swim Workouts | 80/20 Endurance

Substitute for Some Swim Workouts

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    I am 24 weeks out to IM 70.3 Ohio. I am going to start the “maintenance” workouts from the 80/20 Triathlon book. I will do those for the next 6 weeks and then start the 18 week HIM training plan. I am 60-64 age grouper who was never a good swimmer and don’t really care to get any better. I’ll swim 1500 – 2000 once a week but don’t have any interest in swimming more than once a week. The 80/20 plans call for swimming 3 times/week and my question is what can I do during those other 2 days to get a similar metabolic response. Should I just do another run or bike with similar heart rate zones that are called for in the swim on that day, or would I be better off not over-working my legs and do upper body strength work instead.

    David Warden

    “and don’t really care to get any better…” Oh, man. That made my day. Love the candor!

    First, our triathlon plans split the 80/20 intensity balance between the swim and bike/run. Meaning, if you isolate the bike/run you’ll end up with 80/20 easy/hard, and if you isolate the swims you’ll end up with 80/20 easy/hard. This baseline just helps set the stage that your bike/run can be managed separately without messing up the plan.

    Therefore, one option is don’t add anything. Just bike and run as scheduled and do your once a week swim. Your bike/run maintain a self-contained plan-within-a-plan

    Another option is to level up. Since you’re dropping ~1 hour of swimming each week, go from the Level 1 to the Level 2 70.3 half ironman plan. That will, as you suggest, increase your metabolic response automatically by adding the bike run in the perfect balance built into the higher level plan.

    But, I think the best option is to replace those two swim sessions with two strength training session. The hours remain the same, and you’re adding the perfect thing to add for a 60+ year old (strength training). We offer free and premium strength plans that plug in right on top of your 80/20 plan. See

    You *could* add an hour more of run and bike, but then you’d have to manage the 80/20 ratios for those extra hours, and frankly the strength training will do better for you than the extra bike and run.



    Thanks David,

    That is really helpful, thank you very much for your thoughtful response. I figured there was no need to beat around the bush on my lack of interest in spending anymore time in the water than I need to. I’m sure if I posted that on the slowtwitch forum I would be told to man up, get in the pool, watch videos, hire a coach, blah blah blah, so I appreciate your judgement free advice.

    I will for sure check out the strength plans.

    Thanks again.


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