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This training plan (found at Trainingpeaks.com) is designed for an experienced athlete looking to race a half-iron-distance triathlon. Before starting this plan, you should have completed at least eight weeks of consistent training with volume of no less than 12 hours a week.
The plan begins moderately for the first four weeks and progresses in volume and then intensity. There will be a swim block early and bike block toward the end with consistent build in run volume and intensity. Weekly volume will max out at 19 hours before going into taper week. Upon completion of the 12 weeks, you will have improved your efficiency, focus and feel for perceived effort, especially around your half-Ironman race pace. You can continue to use power meters, GPS and heart rate to monitor efforts but this plan encourages you to learn how to pace yourself without needing the equipment.
We’ve all heard, “You’re stronger than you think,” but you don’t find strength in your comfort zone. At some point, training can get uncomfortable. Discomfort is not a number—it’s something we feel. Training by feel allows you to control your level of discomfort and find your strength. This plan will work off five zones; you will spend most of your time during this plan in the middle three zones.
The Five Training Zones
Easy: Embarrassingly easy. If your friends don’t comment on how slow you’re going, you’re not going easy enough.
Mod: Moderate effort. Rate of perceived exertion (RPE) 3–4 (on a scale of 10). Swim max effort for 40–70 min, bike max effort for 3–5 hours, run max effort for 2.5–3 hours.
Med: Medium effort. RPE 5–6. Swim max effort for 20–40 min, bike max effort for 90–140 min, run max effort for 75–120 min.
Mad: Mad effort. RPE 7–8. Swim max effort for 15–20 min, bike max effort for 45–70 min, run max effort for 20–60 min.
ALL OUT: Always max effort for whatever the duration is. If your friends don’t comment on how ugly you’re looking, you’re not going hard enough.
The guidelines above will allow you to work off of feel without burying yourself or holding yourself back. When you have the energy, push yourself toward the harder limits of the zone. When you’re not feeling it, pull back and work the easier side of the zone. If you are unable to match pace or volume and are sick, tired, stressed or dealing with GI issues, still do what you can and go 100 percent by how you feel. If you’re injured, go easy and with caution, so long as you’re going off of feel. If you can’t do a workout, don’t try to make it up. Work out how to avoid missing another one and move on.
Find the full 12-week plan for $75 here! Pick up the April issue of Triathlete for a preview of the plan.