I have used your level 0 and 1 Olympic distance triathlon plans with success for the last season. Now I would also like to use your system for off road triathlon e.g. XTerra, but find it very difficult to work in the different zones when off the road on the running trail or on the mountain bike.
Is there a way to transform an existing road plan into a off road plan or do you have special plans for off road triathlon?
For off road/trail training it is best to follow the HR and RPE zones rather than pace or power as terrain will play a bigger factor in your efforts. I would suggest you can use the Olympic distance level 1 plan (HR) for Xterra and you can replace your weekend sessions with MTB and trail running terrain similar to your race to get specific training for Xterra racing.
I already use my HR when I’m on the trail, as you suggest, but have problems to keep the given Zone for a training pass, typically on steep climbs. E.g. if I have a Running Foundation pass my HR easy goes into Zone X and Zone 3, even if I slow down, to a fast walk. Of cause I could slow down to a very slow walk or stop until my HR is in the requested zone, but that does not make lot of sense to me. Some of the terrain I’m running in has climbs on more than 20%. If you would be out on a RF pass, how would you handle next Km if you know it has 15-20% gradient?
Yes on varied terrain it’s not possible to keep your HR in one zone the whole time. As long as you don’t let it spike too high and for too long this is what you are really after when trail running. Most of your longer trail sessions will most likely be in the Zone 2 range, but with hills your heart rate will go up, and this is where you will walk if needed to not have the effort up too high, but then on downhills or technical sections you HR will actually come down, so you will get that recovery period. Overall as long as the average effort of the session is zone 2, then you you will be getting the appropriate training without over doing it. With time you will start to notice that hills you once had to walk at a certain heart rate you may be able to start to run as you get more conditioned for the terrain. 20% grade is probably always going to be a walking hill though – but they do make you stronger that’s for sure!