Annual plan for cyclist/runner


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    I’m a masters (55+) distance runner and a cyclist, and would like to compete in both disciplines as follows:

    [a] “A” race half-marathon in mid-May (age group win goal)
    [b] Occasional gravel races (cycling) in the summer (fun)
    [c] “A” race full marathon in first week of October (PR goal)
    [d] “C” races of weekly cyclocross in October and November (fun)

    Is there a sequence of plans that I can work with and modify to achieve my goals. I basically trained 80/20 with a coach in 2020 and it seemed to work well for me. Thanks

    David Warden


    It would be disingenuous of me to claim that our standard plans would do a great job of meeting these goals. Sure, the half and full marathon are our bread and butter and I can confidently recommend those. But adding in the gravel and cyclocross requires some modification.

    Granted, the 80/20 principle applies to those sports, it’s just a matter of how to package up the cycling within the half and full marathons.

    Can you confirm the distance/expected duration of the gravel and cyclocross events? I have a couple of ideas, but it depends on how long those events are. Confirm for me and I’ll comment further.



    Hi David,

    The gravel races I have circled on my list usually come in two flavors — overgeneralizing, the shorter versions are 25-40 miles with up to 2500 feet of climbing and the longer versions are 50-75 miles with about 5000 feet of climbing. Depending on the ruggedness and climbs, 2-3 hours on the short version, 4-5.5 hours on the long. Since I’m new to the discipline, I’m focused on the shorter events for 2021. But I see these as endurance events where the aerobic engine and fat-adaptation are important.

    Cross races in my age group are V02 max experiences for about 45 minutes. I do these for fun and fitness, not for placings (those days are over for me).

    I really appreciate your responsiveness and am looking forward to building an annual program based on 80/20 principles and plans.

    David Warden

    OK, thank you. This is what I needed.

    If you were to use a 70.3 plan without the swim through the HM event, that would give you all the run requirements for the HM, and all the cycling you’d need for the cycling events. You would not need to do the brick workouts, I’d split those workouts out to different days. Fortunately, the bike and run 80/20 ratios are calculated separately from the swim, so removing the swim won’t mess with those ratios.

    Then, you can use the IM plan without swim for the marathon once the HM is over, with a week break in between.

    The disadvantage of this plan is that the 70.3 plan is probably just under the cycling volume you need, and the IM plan is more cycling than you need (At least for the longer events, not the 45-minute events).

    You can also Level down with this plan, you really don’t need the Level 3 to fit all these events in, the Level 1 or 2 can do it.

    Again, this is not the perfect solution. You probably need a custom plan for the ultimate results. But, if you are looking for an easy solution, and one that guarantees the right intensity balance ad return on training investment, this is a solid choice.



    Thanks David! I’m a young 55+ and happy to experiment. I’ll start with the plans you suggested and see how 2021 goes. If I need greater precision I can go more customized in 2022.

    You do such a good job explaining the principles here and in Matt’s book that I am hopeful about making necessary tweaks this year.

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Masters (55+) cyclist and distance runner

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