Understanding Your 80/20 EnduranceRun Bridge Plan
by Matt Fitzgerald
The 80/20 Endurance Run Bridge Plans were created to serve the needs of athletes planning to compete in two races within a short period of time--specifically, one to six weeks. There are 48 plans in total representing six durations (1-6 weeks), four levels (0-3), and two distance ranges (10K and below, half marathon and up.) You also have your choice of four intensity metrics for each plan: heart rate, pace, power, and perceived effort.
Choosing the right plan is easy. The first consideration is duration. Choose a plan that matches the length of the gap between races. For example, if you have 3 weeks between races, choose a 3-week Bridge Plan. The next consideration is race distance. If the two races are 10K's or shorter, choose a Short-Course Bridge Plan. If the first race is a half marathon or longer and the second race is a 10K or shorter, also choose a Short-Course Bridge Plan. If both races are marathons or longer, choose a Long Course Bridge Plan*. The final consideration is level. Choose a level of Bridge Plan that matches the level of plan you're using to prepare for the first race. For example, if you're following a Level 2 Marathon Plan, choose a Level 3 Bridge Plan to follow it. Finally, choose your preferred intensity metric.
Once you've selected your Bridge Plan, apply it to your TrainingPeaks calendar using as the start date the Monday following your first event. So, if the first race falls on Saturday, May 22nd, choose Monday, May 24th as the start date for the Bridge Plan. Note that Bridge Plans are intended to extend a pre-existing fitness peak, not to develop peak fitness. In other words, you are expected to attain peak fitness for the first race and then maintain it through the Bridge Plan (while also recovering from the first race). For this to work, you need to complete a full 80/20 Endurance Run Plan as preparation for that first race.
Be aware that some fine-tuning may be required within your chosen Bridge Plan, particularly if it's a Long-Course plan. These plans are intended to cover distances ranging from half marathon to 100 miles, but of course there's a big difference between a half marathon and a 100-miler. If the two races you're bridging are both half marathons, you might want to shorten one or more of the Endurance Runs included or replace one or more of them with a Half-Marathon-Pace Run or other moderate-intensity run. On the other hand, if both races are ultras, it's possible you'll need to increase the duration of one or more of the Endurance Runs included. If you're a Platinum Subscriber, your coach can help with these adjustments. Alternatively, you can schedule a 30-minute consult with an 80/20 Endurance coach.
As a final note, our Bridge Plans use the same zone system, workout types, and other elements as our other Run Plans. Refer to our Resources page for information and guidance on these elements.
*Do not use a Bridge Plan if you have two races within 6 weeks of each other and the first one is 10K or shorter and the second is half marathon or longer. In this case, choose a Half Marathon, Marathon, or Ultramarathon plan that ends on the date of the second event and complete the first event as a "B" race.