Swimming on bench, HRtss vs RTss and other things

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    Hello Matt and merry xmas at all.

    I bought the 8020 Triathlon Book 2 years ago and really like the approach. I am in the ongoing preparation for my first Long Distance at Challenge Roth 2021 and hopefully the Event will be possible in spite of Corona.

    In 2020 I started to train for my first long Distance which was canceled due to Covid. I stopped formal training of the L1 IM Plan in march and just hoovered around cycling and running training, without any plan. After summer I just did a “6weeks chrash preparation for my first marathon on 31 Oct, which I ran as mentally preparation and as a Training (wanted Sub4 = did 3:58), but it went really well, in fact of just a peak week with 45km and longest run of 26km. After a short off season break I started with the Maintenance Plan which I am 6 weeks in now.
    I decided now to go with the L2 IM Plan starting at 25th January.

    There are a few questions left:

    1. The switch will happen after week 10 of the MP. As you recommended often, I’ll will modify the week 10 of the MP Plan and reduce to a very low and soft Recovery week with just a few hours of Training and nearly no Zone X or higher in it. Do you think, It is okay to do so as you recommend also a formal break.

    2. Another important point I have to deal with, due to Covid the pools will be closed until march or perhaps little bit longer. At the moment I substitute the swim sessions of the MP with Cord Training and I just have bought a Total Gym Trainer, it’s serves me as a“ cheap“ Vasa Trainer as I have modified some things to match it up nearly perfect for dry land swimming.
    I wanted to do every Swim Session for now at the Swim Trainer, the whole time spending on the “de facto Vasa” like I would do it in the water. (using pre calculated duration time from Trainingspeaks)

    As there are only HRtss as calculation is available I think about it, to add some additional time (mostly Z1/Z2) to my bike or run. I’ll try to get the same overall amount of planned tss like I would have earned including real swimming.

    3. Is this a reasonably approach in your opinion? Hope it’s a good way to build up the weekly tss over time. (for now I’m at 55 CTL and would like to get up to target CTL of 100-110 on race day)

    4. How should I go on with real swimming, when the pools are re-open, for example in march (fearing April at the latest)?
    Think I will do a real life CSS Test first, but how should I go on / catch up with the formal swimming afterwards ? I fear that the amount of swim training in march could be too high if I will be first time in water since months (Sep 2020) then. What’s a possible solution for this in your opinion?

    My next question is about making changes in the Plan. Most of the long bike key Sessions are timed on saturday, but the rides would better fit on Sunday for me. I know that the long Run on sunday is affected by the bike ride, like in competition and the running one day after cycling also simulates this.

    5. Is it okay to change most rides to sunday and long runs to saturday?

    And last but not least, many of my runs are affected by elevation changes. In Trainingspeaks I can switch afterwards running between HRtss and RTss. The given value for a session sometimes differs a lot from the Training I did. For example, today with 10km and just 70m elevation change the HRtss (54) matched perfectly to the expected TSS (50). The RTss (75 points) is much off and so the IF changes also from 0.74 to 0.87. In my opinion for this session HRtss is much more reliable. While Trail running Session mostly RTss otherwise gives me more reliable values.

    6. What do you think is it a good approach for calculating the CTL/ATL or should I use just HRtss in every case for running, no matter if there are elevation changes?

    Thanks for the 80/20, the Book helped me a lot to understand Training and to go hard(er) when to do so and mostly go slow to get better.

    Greetings from germany and hopefully a better year without much Covid trouble.

    Sincerely, Stefan

    David Warden


    Thanks for using our forums! These are fantastic questions, just what I was hoping for when we opened the forums.

    1. The minimum “week off” we recommend between formal plans is a general recommendation for all athletes. Frankly, it would be very different if we did a complete intake of each athlete and took a look at their complete training history. It might be 1 week off for some athletes and 4 weeks for others. The real purpose is to ensure that the body has enough time to recover from the accumulated stress of 6, 8, 12, maybe even 24 months of tough training. However, the week you describe above looks great.

    2. and 3. Why add bike and run time if you are going to do a 1:1 ratio on your “Vasa” setup? You can add manual estimated TSS into your “swim” workouts and as far as your CTL it will be just as if you did a swim. Maybe I misunderstood the statement. I’d just add 20-25 TSS per 30 minutes of completed “swim” workout and not add any more bike or run time.

    4. Good observation. I think you should not do the CSS test as your first swim after months off, you need 2-3 swims under your belt first. I’d do the first 3 swims workouts as Zone 1-2 only, same duration as listed by no Zone 3+, then do the CSS as the 4th swim.

    5. Yes. There are advantages and disadvantages between the order of run->bike and bike->run from Sat->Sun. You’re trading some advantages for some disadvantages. However, this trade overall is just fine. IF you can mix it up a bit, that would be best too (you’ll notice that our order of run->bike and bike->run occasionally changes for this reason).

    6. I recommend that you read my article on the Performance Management Chart to fully understand my position on CTL. Ultimately, I think CTL is a risky path to follow unless done exactly right. And, actually, your attention to detail in this question is part of what is required to make it accurate! Ultimately, I think the answer is this: stick with a single intensity type: hrTSS to rTSS, and do not to mix and match within a sport. There are certainly advantages and disadvantages to each type, but I think that these balance out when used consistently. When you go back and forth, there is more chance of error, in my opinion. If you use hrTSS are your primary measure on the run, use it for all workouts on the run. This recommendation applies just by sport, meaning I’m OK with using HR for the run and Power for the bike, as long as you always use HR for the run and Power for the bike.



    Hello David

    Thank you so much for the answers. I think now some things got more clear to me.

    I intended to add the little extra time for bike or run if there are some TSS from the “dry Land Swim Sessions” are left. At the moment I go with HRtss only for cord or swim bench Training, but I think it should be okay for now to go on with this till the pools are Re-open, even if the sessions have some TSS less than real swimming.

    For running I’ll stick to HRtss, maybe it’s the best of two worlds and most of my runs match best to this calculation. Changed all my runs of the last weeks to this.

    I really look forward the next weeks and months of Training.



    I’m not sure if this could be an option for you, but I live in western pa, and my house is on the top of one of the highest hills in the county… Which means that all of my runs are affected by elevation changes and it’s really hard to get an accurate picture using heart rate (which lags) or pace (where it bangs up my confidence where I can’t pull off a zone 3 pace going up a 23 percent inclined hill). At any rate, my husband started training with power a couple years ago, and he really seemed to like it, so my little pod came yesterday. I think it’s going to end up being a really good training tool and investment… I know that I’m probably still overtraining despite my best efforts, and that’s because of elevation consistency, with the pod, I think this will eliminate that concern. I purchased that stryd, and am aware that garmin also has a pod for power information (but don’t think their technology is quite at the level it needs to be yet). I also think it will help me beat up myself less when I can’t hit those pace intervals going up a hill. Not sure if that could be an option for you, but as one hill dwelling resident to another, it might be helpful for you

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