Monday, January 13, 2014

Training Plan

I’m going to refer to it as “The Bible” from here on in. The Bible is my entry point to a training plan supplemented by “Training and Racing with a Powermeter” and all the online resources. Lets step through the book starting with Chapter 5 (assuming you’ve read / thumbed through the beginning). More after the break.

SChapter 5: Assessing Fitness

This is all about your personal goals and skills. There are several surveys in The Bible that you should complete (Nice excel versions are located here, I HATE marking up books). The idea is to get a feel for where your skills lie and where you need work. I used the excel version and came up with the following scores in the following areas.



You need to answer the questions honestly, and even then it’s sometimes hard to judge your own performance and skills. You might want to get some more objective feedback from running / riding / triathlon peers. For myself, I’ve always had an ability to climb on bike, but I need to know the terrain or else I can under estimate the time needed in the climb. I’ve never done local time trials, but I have done well with Strava TT segments. I know I can focus on an 10s average power for 20 – 30 minutes and hold it. However, in several races I did a couple of years ago my sprinting (while running) near a finish was not the greatest causing me to lose places to other finishers who sprinted past me to the finish. The sprinting skill is about suffering from my perspective – I’ve tended to launch too early and then can’t suffer through the pain at the needed pace.

Mental Skills


If I have the time (or make it) I am pretty good at being self motivating, sticking to a schedule, and pushing through things. I’ve surprised myself with my abilities over the last few years which is great for confidence. I have tended to ride a route prior to a race to get a feel and I can visualize well during the race and stick to that race plan.

My thought habits and concentration can be a bit weaker, but I think this is a good evaluation of my mental skillset. I’m not exemplary in any given area, but I’m not surprisingly weak on the mental skill side either.

Natural Abilities


And here is my problem – I am not predisposed to be an endurance athlete. That’s why I don’t have aspirations of doing an Ironman race. I’d love to succeed in completely a half ironman, but maybe that is not in the cards – there is only so much training against your genetics you can do. I’m more built for strength which is why I can push bigger gears, climb a hill, or let people draft off me in a strong NL style headwind (60km/hr gust of 80 type stuff).

Chapter 7: Planning a year

You need to start big picture then work your way into the details. This is my commentary on The Bible’s steps.

1) Determining your goals

One of the most difficult things is write defined goals. These have to be specific and quantifiable. That generally means that there has to be a number associated with it.

If you’ve competed in a Triathlon or race before, this is where you look at your results for improvement. Below are my goals

  • Get to previous race weight (195 lbs / 86kg) in 24 weeks
  • Sprint Distance Triathlon: Average > 32km/hr (20 – 25km ) and 5:00 min/km (5km) pace, don’t drown and die swimming (Actually I need to test my swim speed). My speeds are based on previous competition and what I used to be able to do. AB isn’t as hilly as NL, so once I do some outdoor testing I’ll re-evaluate. 
  • Olympic Distance Triathlon:  Average > 30km/hr (40km) and 5:30 min/km (10km)
  • Get FTP up to 270 watts (previously around 255 watts) – This should be updated accordingly. I haven’t tested my FTP in a long time.

2) Establish Training Objectives

So if you’ve read the book, you’ll have to rewind to Chapter 6. In this chapter you would have learned about building fitness and your strengths and weaknesses. These are similar to the goals, but it relates more strongly to the skills pyramid shown down further. Mine are shown below. I find these a little more difficult to setup as there seems to be overlap in Goals and Objectives.

  • Improve run endurance
  • Improve swim skills – measure
  • During Build 2, focus on sprint endurance

3) Set Annual Training Hours

This is very important. Now that we have goals and objectives, it’s time to set the hours. The best way to do this is to look at the time you’ve invested in a previous year and stay near that. Unless you plan on changing your life significantly (or if it’s changed beyond your control) this is a good target. Another aspect to take into consideration is what your A Race is.

Joe’s Advice is that you can do a small increase in volume of 10 – 15 but there is also guidelines for how many hours need for a given race.


If you’re using Garmin Connect you can go into your previous year via Calendar and then you will have a summary at the bottom.



Not everything I’ve done in the last few years is in my Garmin Connect, so it’s showing low. A 115 hour to a 400 hour jump might not be possible even if 60 – 70 hours of annual training time is missing. My life has been impacted the last 2 years with the powermeter development while working a day job. Before I moved to Ontario most of my tracking was offline with my Garmin FR60 watch + my CTE software. My software wasn’t able to be uploaded to Garmin sadly, as it was not .FIT or .TCX files. It mimicked SRM files so it could be read by WKO+ or Goldencheetah. This would appear to be the ideal resource to judge how much time I can invest. However, due to a bad hard drive about a year ago those files were lost. I remember my plan that I did stick with was 350 - 400 hours annual with actuals (due to weight lifting and other things) ended up being more. I’ve been away from it for two to three seasons, so I suspect I’ll aim at 400 with a long transition period and see how it works out. If needed I can dial the hours back

4) Prioritize Races

This is simple enough. I’m targeting two races currently.

B Race -Chinnook Half -

A Race - Subaru Banff – Because I own an Impreza -

I might add some sprint distance races but they will be considered B or C races

5) Dividing your time into Periods

This is where we start to talk about periodization. It’s essentially a pyramid. The idea is that you create an endurance base and once you have that established you move into the build phase where you improve your specifics while maintaining the base you’ve created. There is more base periods than build periods and with inexperienced athletes (like myself), The Bible suggests that it might be best to avoid the build periods. I’m not 100% on board with this approach mainly because of the Hunter / Coggan book and because the Base periods for me happen inside when it’s boring. The bike workouts for the build period (shorter intervals) are much more interesting.


6) Assign Weekly Hours

The Transition and preparation periods are to get the body ready for the real training. The Transition is usually recovery from a previous race or off season. For me, it’s off seasons – plural. This is where I start wanting to diverge, but I desire to hold true to Joe Friel’s work. I find long runs and constant power / speed rides dull, especially when most of this will be done inside. I’ll talk about this divergence a little later once I start integrating Hunter Allen / Andy Coggan’s power book. Generally once you have your yearly hours there is a table (Table 8.1) with suggested daily hours. These will tend not to work for everyone.

The Basic Plan

Shown below is my Joe Friel Based Plan.


Important points

Missing Days

I mentioned in the previous post that there is a lot of bad advice on missing workouts. Here is a quote from The Bible:

“Missing Three or Fewer Days

For downtime of just a few days, continue training with no adjustments. The worst thing you can do is to try and fit in the lost workouts.”

That is right, the worst thing is to cram too much in. It causes too much fatigue to soon, which can lead to over training, which can then lead to insufficient recovery time. This can mean you’re overly tired going into the next week or worse, cause injuries or illness. I suspect it wouldn’t be the end of a world to “cram” in one workout, but once you are missing multiple days I’d take an experts advice.


Joe will hammer this home over and over. Recovery is important. For me this means a day or two off. Listen to your body. Adjust your plan as necessary.

Chapter 8: Planning a week

This is where I find things get complicated. Essentially you get into a refinement loop between planning a week and planning the workouts.

The idea is to take a weekly schedule and assign hours. I’m only going to go so far as to plan my prep and base periods. Some of my guidelines

  • While Biking should be 50% of my workouts because it’s the longest let, my proficiency with running and swimming isn’t that great. My initial access to a pool is limited until I find my way around, so I’m going to make prep run heavy. So this loss of swimming means I’ll try and keep prep for Run and Bike at 50/50.
  • Once I get settled in Calgary I will bring things into alignment with 50% bike, 25% run, and 25% swim.

I’m still working on this area. Joe has a suggested a setup of hours, but I find you need to refine things a bit to suite your schedule. He tends to front load long workouts. If you’re finding that you are burning out too early in the week and unable to continue training it might be best to look at decreasing your annual commitment or changing your schedule to help you recover from one sport by doing another.


Chapter “Appendix” : The workouts

This is where I’d like to diverge a little from The Bible / Joe Friel. I find this is the main area where The Bible could use a little work and I believe it’s best supplemented by Hunter Allen / Andy Coggan’s book “Training and Racing with a Powermeter”. The main reason is the detail of the workouts combined with the the expected Physiological and Performance Adaptations (Table 3.2) which I’ve reproduced below.


The idea is that for a give “dose” of training, how much the body will adapt. I’m not sure exactly how this correlates to each. For instance, one interval at LT is longer than one interval at VO2max. So would it be each interval or each approximate time.

From this table it’s seen that riding Tempo rate will give the greatest increase in endurance, however riding LT gives more benefits in other areas. Each of these adaptations can correlate to the Primary and Advanced Racing Abilities. Primary Abilities are at the corners while the advanced abilities are the combination of the two primaries in the sides.


So this brings me to the idea that Base is a combination of Endurance and Tempo with Active recovery mixed in, while the build phases will correlate more with Lactate Threshold and VO2max.

Once this is sorted, there is a lot of workouts in the back of Training and Racing with a Powermeter. What is neat is that Hunter/Coggan gives things in % Functional Threshold Heartrate and % of Functional Threshold Heart Rate.

So now we can look at planning the details of a week.

When I rated my skills I also had to rate where I was on a 1 – 5 scale for Swimming, Biking, and Running

  • Bike – 4: This is where additional weight isn’t as detrimental until it comes to hills. I’ve always done well biking because drag force does not increase proportionally with mass, but there is usually a good increase in power with additional mass. The elites reduce the fat, and that’s where I need to be.
  • Run – 2 : Additional weight makes running hard, so the focus needs to be getting weight down, I find that run volume itself aided in this most
  • Swim - 1 : I’m very bad at swimming. I find that even a few weeks off shows a decline in my technical stroke ability. And since I’m not starting form a good position, it’s best to focus on this.

So with these factors in mind it’s time to start choosing workouts. I’ll get more into that in a future post.

Chapter 2: Attitude / Planning a Day

I’m going to rewind a little as it relates to the last topic. Planning your day can be complicated. Everyone’s lives are different. The Bible suggests waking at 6:00am and heading to bed at 9:00pm. Honestly, this works for me – some of the time. When I was heavily working out during my Masters Degree I was finding 9 hours of sleep necessary. When I’m not I find I need 8 hours, and I’ve worked with lots of people that function on 6 hours – some without kids even.

One of the big things suggested around the web is that “productive” people exercise before work / immediately when they get up in the morning. There are several benefits to this – 

  • Most jobs are sedentary so good for recovery meaning that the increased sleep time will be minimized
  • Your blood is pumping so you’re awake for work thus increased alertness and work productivity
  • Your breakfast gets to be your recovery meal, and thus you have higher potential for weight loss (via fat reduction) if the nutritional side of things is done correctly

Where it’s hard is that it leave very little flexibility. The Bible also suggests a 30 minute nap at work. That doesn’t work for me, I snore -- plus even if my new job has more freedom I don’t believe it would be cool to do a 30 minute nap.

The other thing The Bible misses is transit time to work. As mentioned previously, this might be a 15min walk / 5minute drive or a 20 – 30 minute drive – it depends on a lot of external factors. I’ll decide that over the next 2 weeks.

So the specifics of the day plan are variable. You need to work around these things. So not everyone’s plan works for everyone else.

1 comment:

  1. Keith:

    From a primary runner's perspective (mine), the idea of sprinting being primarily about suffering is only marginally accurate. I think most running coaches would agree that the ability to continue to run well when fatigued has as much to do with the specific training you have done to focus on the maintenance of efficient (including the element of trying to be relaxed as possible) running bio-mechanics at various stages of fatigue.

    Over the years I have found the concepts contained in "Daniels Running Formula" by Jack Daniels (no, really!) very helpful. He has a very rigid concept that there are only 4 (possibly 5) useful narrow ranges of running speeds during training for any particular individual distance runner. The resulting corollary of this view is that any training at all done at any other speed for that person is GARBAGE, i.e. a total waste of your precious time and effort. I don't necessarily buy into his concept that the ONLY useful training speeds are 4 in number, but I have found immensely helpful his associated concept that each speed is particularly useful for developing a particular physiological and biochemical capability, and therefore, one has to be clear as to what exactly one is trying to achieve (i.e. which physiological stress and adaptation one is targeting) during each training session.

    To come back to your initial desire to sprint well especially during the finishing kick, this is helped by a good base of Long Slow running for underlying endurance and strength, 10% of total distance trained at (Lactate) Threshold speed (he has a very specific definition of his terms), 5-8% at Aerobic speed (the velocity at which VO2 uptake max is occurring) with limited recovery, and <5% at what he calls Repetition pace, the latter done at faster than race pace but with full recovery between repetitions, the purpose of which is to develop speed and relaxed bio-mechanical running economy. This running efficiency, of course, gives a benefit all through the hard part of the race of relaxed fast running during stress, not just the last 2-3 agonized minutes! I highly recommend "Daniels Training Formula", both for the explanation of concept, which I may not have done justice to, and for the detailed tables to derive the specific training running velocities for your particular current physiology. I have a copy which you can peruse when I see you in Alberta:)

    I can't wait to get the books you recommend and to see what overlap exists, if any, of Daniels' running concepts and Friel's Cycling training expertise.