Triathlon plan(s) and Threshold Testing | 80/20 Endurance

Triathlon plan(s) and Threshold Testing

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    Hi David,
    Hi Matt,

    As I progress with my plan, and actually think that things are going quite will, especially with my running, I was just finishing a recovery/testing week and while I was cruising on my 3hour ride my brain started to drift into the “think about stuff mode”.

    Here my actual question: My understanding is/was that threshold testing is supposed to be done in the recovery weeks using the tempo workouts. I was under the assumption that if I want to test one of the three (run,bike, swim), I ideally test all of them in the same week as I also train and eventually race all of the them in the same week/same day and a certain fatigue must therefore be part of my threshold testing. This is what I did ever since I started 80/20. Cycling is always the first tempo workout of the week and my legs are quite fresh, then swimming and the day after swimming the running FTP test. The running FTP test is always performed on rather tired legs from the cycling FTP test but also, I feel that strength training the day before the swim test effects the outcome? Would it make sense to switch things up every other recovery week and do the running FTP earlier in the week and cycling later?
    I was also wondering if the fatigue impact was already part of the thought process when the training plan was written but then I figured that the running plans are using the same workouts and no negative impact from a cycling FTP on running FTP is to be expected?

    I hope this isn’t a totally stupid question…..

    Thanks & Happy Monday!



    + if running a “B” race instead of the tempo workout in a recovery week, can I assume the “B” race can be run all out?

    David Warden


    Good observation. These is little harm in switching up the order of the individual tests on the rest week. However, we think that the the existing order is best. Although the run is the 3rd of the 3 tests, we expect an athlete to be more rested doing the run at the end of a rest week, even two days after the cycling test, than in the middle of the week.

    For example, let’s look at the 70.3 Level 2 plan, week 16. The previous week, week 15, was nearly 13 hours long, and the final workout of the week is a 4 hour brick. No way I can do a run test Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday. Yes, the Thursday cycling test adds fatigue, but I believe you are more rested Saturday even after a Thursday bike test than on Thursday in general.

    Additionally, if we do the run test on Thursday, you’ll be even more thrashed for the bike test on Saturday, as the run requires more recovery

    I think the best solution is: don’t test every sport every rest week. Alternate the bike and run and do them each every 6 weeks on a Friday or Saturday so you’re just doing one of the two every rest week (the swim you can do whenever). Particularly as you get more and more fit, your zones are going to change very little anyway, and every 3rd week is not necessary. In our Level 3 plans, we actually don’t even schedule testing every rest week because of this.

    Remember, the CT and RT are not required testing, they are optional testing. That’s precisely why we did not make them full tests every week, to give the athlete the flexibility to skip some tests.

    For your B race, yes, I would for sure go all out. There are some implications here to the intensity balance, see the second half of for a discussion on this.



    Hi David,

    glad I asked. I didn’t consider the fatigue from the previous week. Makes all sense…great answer as always.
    I don’t test all 3 each and every recovery week but was still wondering. I have to test running a bit more frequently as I have had several injuries and it seems my running improves faster than I thought it would. The cycling does not change too much.

    As for the B-race: I will only be able to run a half marathon as no other races are scheduled around that time. Does that mean I should only reduce intensity for running the week of the race and the following week or can/could/should I also reduce some cycling intensity? I thought of changing the recovery week RAn3 to a Zone 1-2 and maybe doing the same with the RCI3 the week after?

    My understanding is the following:
    RT19 is 1:30h which splits up in 20min hard and 70min easy.
    To keep it simple, let’s assume the half marathon in run in 90min, that means I need to find 70min hard to stay within the same intensity distribution.
    Switching the RAn3 run to a Z1-2 workout would give me 15min hard (as the 5min in between are considered easy b/c they are long enough to count towards easy?) and the RCI3 would give me 4x8min plus the 4x3min in between as the recovery is too short and would still count as hard? that would make it 44min plus the 15min from = 59min
    I would come in 11min higher than needed but I assume that will be fine? Or can I count the 5min in between the 2.5min intervals of the RAn3 also as hard which would make it 7.5min x 6 = 45min and I could run the RCI3 almost as scheduled?


    David Warden


    Fortunately, with the triathlon plans, we measure intensity as a whole, not per sport (with an exception for swimming I won’t go into here). Meaning, we don’t create the plans with 20% high intensity for running and 20% for cycling, some weeks it’s 13% cycling and 27% running. In fact, not every week is exactly 80/20. Some are 83/17 and some are 77/23. Over the course of any given 4 weeks, the aggregate is always 80/20.

    Therefore, this gives you a significant amount of flexibility in adjusting your plan. You can exchange intensity on the run for intensity on the bike for sure. You can also “withdraw” high intensity from the week before and “deposit” it over the next two weeks.

    In your case, you’re calculations are just fine (except for the recovery interval of the RAn, just count the 2.5 x 6, not 7.5 x 6). And, as discussed, you can even borrow high intensity from the week before in addition to the week after.

    Also, per the thread I referred you to above, it’s about a 0.1% increase in high intensity for every hour of additional high intensity you add in a ~20-week plan. So, if you are 11 minutes above plan, that’s 0.11% more intensity than we planned. That’s ok!


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