General Discussion Triathlon Talk » Not using training plans Rss Feed  
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2013-05-28 7:39 AM

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Subject: Not using training plans
Just curious if anyone else does this. I have never used an established training plan. I started tris about 2.5 years ago and have done lots of sprints, a couple of olympics, and 2 HIMs. I have looked at lots of training plans over the years so I understand basic principles of training. But even for the HIMs I just trained my own way. Basically I just do some shorter faster(interval) workouts, and one long run and bike per week. And I build up to the distance I need to. So I always try to get in 3 bikes, 3-4 runs, 2-3 swims per week. Well I just signed up for my first full IM and I was wondering if it is crazy to continue my own thing. My last HIM time was 5:08 just to give you an idea of where I'm at. So, if I don't use a specific plan for a HIM, will it work for an IM? Or is it extremely important to use an established plan? I would appreciate any advice.


2013-05-28 9:30 AM
in reply to: mchadcota2

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Subject: RE: Not using training plans
I am glad you asked this because I am also wondering the same thing. There is a guy in my Tri group that swears by training plans. I am training for an HIM at the end of the summer, but feel pretty good about the shape I am in... Are there differences in plans for people who are just getting into tri's as compared to people who have been doing them for a while. I feel I can always work on time, but I just did and OLY this weekend and felt pretty good about my condition. I don't have a "set" workout to do, but like you I run 3-4 times a week, swim every morning, and long rides on the weekends.
2013-05-28 9:38 AM
in reply to: mchadcota2

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Subject: RE: Not using training plans
I have never used a training plan. I do look at them as a guide though. I am going to try and follow the 13 weeks to a 13 hour Ironman training plan for my ironman.
2013-05-28 9:47 AM
in reply to: The Dude14

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Subject: RE: Not using training plans
I dont have a answer really because I basically do what you do I build a strict plan using fitgeralds book however have basically done my own thing between a barry p running program, masters swimming, and biking as much as possible and using Trainerroad. I am only training for a HIM though I think a full like you said might be a little more worth considering a plan. However, it is all relative on your goals as well.
2013-05-28 9:52 AM
in reply to: Exige

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Subject: RE: Not using training plans
When I started running before I entered triathlons, I followed a training plan to the T for the first half marathon, then full marathon that I did. After that, I had a pretty good idea of what I needed to do. When I started tris, I just did my own thing. However, I am doing a marathon in October that is my A race, and even though I haven't followed a formal plan in years, I am for this one. I mixed in my tri training with it, but am following the running it recommends exactly. I just mixed in a few swims, and a few bikes a week to it. We'll see how it goes!
2013-05-28 10:01 AM
in reply to: mchadcota2

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Subject: RE: Not using training plans
I do what i want. if i were doing an IM the only thing i would change up is actually plan my workouts each month instead of weekly each sunday.


2013-05-28 10:08 AM
in reply to: mchadcota2

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Subject: RE: Not using training plans
My first 2 years I followed plans/coach to a T
now I have a training plan (more than one actually) but am kind of flying by the seat of my pants...
partly time
just how things are right now

if you are doing HIM in 5:05 you are doing just fine - might you get faster being more structured? probably - but do you care?
2013-05-28 10:32 AM
in reply to: mchadcota2

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Subject: RE: Not using training plans
I would suggest you keep on doing what you've been doing...you've been great without a plan to date, so why change now? In other words, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. With that impressive 5:08 HIM finish, you obviously have the self-discipline and dedication necessary for long distance races. It seems that an IM distance race might be "just another race" for you given your impressive HIM results, so I wouldn't get too worried about not having a plan.

I'm about 3.5 years into triathlon racing (including 2 HIMs and IMFL), and I haven't used a plan either. I'm not nearly as fast as you, but I've done fine without a plan and don't plan on using one. That's just me, but it sounds like you're ok without one too.

2013-05-28 10:44 AM
in reply to: LarchmontTri

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Subject: RE: Not using training plans
I've been doing tri's for 3-4 years inc sprints, oly's and 2 HIMs. Currently training for my first iron distance race. Never used a plan up to this year for the HIM's and did ok - 6hr finisher. Decided i needed a plan for the IM for a few reasons - a) to make sure i got there in the best possibel shape, b) to push me on those days that i don't want to get out of the house! and c) to add a more balanced structure to my workouts.
So far I'm delighted I chose the plan route and I think I'll continue to use one when i go back to HIM's next year.
2013-05-28 10:55 AM
in reply to: grahamclarke_6

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Subject: RE: Not using training plans
That's a good question, I'd like to see what some of the coaches and sub 10 - 10.5 hour athletes would have to say. I'm also a "random" trainer, i.e. don't fillow a plan. I would guess that if I ever plateau and stop seeing performance gains, I either will need to follow a plan, hire a coach or both.

I think if you want to be a SERIOUS contender, you most likely will need some kind of plan.
2013-05-28 10:55 AM
in reply to: mchadcota2

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Subject: RE: Not using training plans
I don't use a training plan and never have. I have toyed with the idea a couple times, but to tell you the truth no one knows you like you! I have been doing my own thing for 5 years now and it has been a lot of trial and error, but each year it gets more and more dialed in. You just need to know the basic principles, your strengths/weaknesses, and how your body is responding. I map out my training and sessions roughly 2 weeks in advance and because life gets in the way I can tweak things around. After a key race if I feel something didn't work or I need an improvement somewhere then I tweak my training and sessions for that and go from there. Training plans can be generalized and can be great for someone starting out and trying to get a general idea of how often and when to train. Keep doing what your are doing and try new things each year.


2013-05-28 3:44 PM
in reply to: mchadcota2

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Subject: RE: Not using training plans

training plans are not necessary.  90% of your performance on race day is likely just due to your volume and consistency.  i.e.- if you get out and swim, ride and run a lot, you'll be fine. 

plans are for people who need help on where to start and how to progress volume and intensity without getting injured.

for me- I like to do whatever I feel like doing and let things like when I have the time, weather, and training partners/groups kinda' guide what I do when. 

2013-05-28 11:23 PM
in reply to: mchadcota2

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Subject: RE: Not using training plans
It's interesting to see so many other folks on BT that aren't using something specific either. I don't use a formal plan, but I read just about everything I can get my hands on related to training. These can help you gain an understanding of training basics. Some that I've really liked include:
"The Triathlete's Training Bible" by Joe Friel
"Breakthrough Triathlon Training" by Brad Kearns
"The Big Book of Endurance Training and Racing" by Phil Maffetone
I tend to develop a rough outline of what I want my training plan to look like, and then I tweak it on a weekly basis. I try to keep the following in mind as I plan:
1) Plan at least one long run or bike each week while training (before tapering).
2) Include a mix of swimming, biking, and running but emphasize the area that is weakest in order to improve (for me that's the bike).
3) Be sure to build rest days into each week.
4) Make adjustments as needed, but identify your key workouts each week, and be sure not to miss those.
2013-05-29 1:02 AM
in reply to: tedjohn


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Subject: RE: Not using training plans
Interesting thread.

Up until about 2 years ago I had never used a training plan for anything - at that stage I had mainly been doing running and cycling events (up to half marathon distance, lots of 10 to 15km runs).

I used a training plan for a half marathon late last year and had my best result ever - but for me, a training plan is about sticking to a certain amount of training. I tend to leave out sessions, miss runs if the weather is too hot/cold/wet/sunny/dark .....any excuse really!!

A key for me is just having it written down - when I get home and its sitting on the coffee table, I feel guilty if I can't put a big tick next to the session once its done....and miss more than 3 or 4 sessions and your training plan starts to look a bit shabby ... and people who visit ask why you missed so many sessions etc....

So for me, the plan is about motivation.

I now use training plans that give me flexibility.

Ie, I build a plan 3 or 4 months long and each week it will simply have what sessions I will do that week:

ie this weeks plan says: 2x8km runs, 1x10km run, 1x14km run, 3 pool sessions (1.8kms each), 2 bike sessions (either 60min trainer OR 50km on road)

The plan doesn't tell me what days I will do what, or what short runs include hard efforts, or any other detail.

But at the end of the week I like to be able to tick off all the sessions...

2013-05-29 2:30 AM
in reply to: Clempson

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Subject: RE: Not using training plans
Originally posted by Clempson

I do what i want.


essentially what I do as well.

I loosely follow a purchased IM plan. But to me it's about what I feel like doing, to stay motivated and happy about it.

I have had coaches and plans galore, and initially it was a good learning experience.

I'm not saying this is the way...but it's my way.
2013-05-29 5:37 AM
in reply to: mchadcota2

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Subject: RE: Not using training plans
I don't use one of the many plans available for free or purchase. The reason is that they seem too generic and don't take into account strengths and weaknesses - the free ones at least.

Last year was my first year of tri, did one sprint and two olys. I basically just did what could fit into my daily schedule and what I felt like, and the result was acceptable.

This year I've up my own plan and knowing the building blocks of my plan I can also improvise and make changes as plan meets reality. I expect to continue this way. I don't think it's that hard to make up a good plan, the hardest part is peaking at the right time.





2013-05-29 6:52 AM
in reply to: mchadcota2

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Subject: RE: Not using training plans
I haven't used plans for sprints and OLY's and did one HIM without a plan...However I'm doing a HIM in August and am following a plan so I'll have a good idea afterwards whether I think a plan is better...

I like not having to plan all aspects what I'm doing, I just do what's on the schedule... Life is constantly getting in the way so I move workouts around and occasionally miss one during a given week but that's the extent of my "planning."



2013-05-29 8:38 AM
in reply to: TriMike


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Subject: RE: Not using training plans
I am very early in my triathlon career, I trained using a plan I adapted to suit myself from October through to April, since then I have scrapped the training plan and just go with how I feel and I have seen bigger improvements that way and don't feel as pressured mentally.

I swim on Wednesday and Friday every week and squeeze in a Monday swim when work permits, but as for running and cycling they revolve round the weather and family.

All depends on what your goals are, I'm not aimin to be top in my AG but consistent top 10% is my goal.
2013-05-29 8:40 AM
in reply to: mchadcota2

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Subject: RE: Not using training plans
I thought you wrote training pants instead of plans. Very different.
2013-05-30 1:45 PM
in reply to: pitt83

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Subject: RE: Not using training plans
Thanks everyone for your input and advice. It makes me feel better knowing I'm not the only one making up their own stuff. I will probably keep doing what I'm doing until I stop improving. If we all didn't have jobs or families, sticking to a training plan would be no problem. But, with six small children and a full time job, I have to get creative with my workout times. Thanks again for your help.
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