When to switch training intensity

This year, I am training differently, keeping intensity levels lower and increasing volume. I am still doing some short, high intensity sessions on the bike and running. At some point, I guess I need to do some sets that include both volume and intensity. At what point should I be adding faster bike ride, or quick HM session? I have IM Lanzarote at the end of May, would 3 months before the event seem right to add tempo workouts?

I’m really enjoying the low intensity workouts, and finding that I can go surprisingly fast with relatively little effort (which I guess is the whole idea)


Edited to add: My main event for 2020 is now Staffs on 7th June (option to defer Bolton will 90% be taken up)
This is end of June.
I will switch to higher intensity, more focused efforts at race pace from 23rd March

this will give me 10 weeks, as Bolton is 5 weeks after that, minus the taper, that would be circa 3 months.
I think, anymore than that, and you will quickly lose patience with training.

The counter point to the traditional periodisation of high volume / low intensity followed by lower volume / high intensity is that the final phase should be event specific. So if your event is long course, you shouldn’t be doing lots of high intensity work in the lead-in. Do the high intensity now to raise the ftp and run threshold pace, then the high volume rides and runs will be at a faster pace while still at the lower effort level.


@Poet and @buzz thanks for the responses.

I am doing some very high intensity Zwift rides, and increased my FTP significantly in past 2 months, also doing one high intensity interval running set per week. Is it worth adding an extra fast run per week?

Most of my running is well below my IM pace (which I am, aiming for 4:40/km), in March, I will start doing some longer IM pace runs

Bolton May change the bike in 2021…

Just local rumour.

It’s a big call but they would have to pull the stops out to put together such a horrible slow bike course.

That said I’m in the same boat ref deferment.

More 50/50 to be honest, you could complete it in a good time on your 70.3 speed alone but to get the best out of yourself obviously needs quite a lot of time.

Same rumour last year. Bolton bike course seems constant gossip

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I would stay well clear of that, unless you have a history of long runs, at a fairly fast speed, without getting injured.

Or is “longer” up to 80 minutes? with a 5 minute WU/CD either side?

Your IM mara time was what 3:22? So your open mara time is ~3hrs?
That would make your Z2 pace ~8 mins per mile, ideally, you want to add 30 to 45s per mile onto that for your one pace long runs.

However…something like this is probably better for you (just based off what I am intending to do, for performance)

  • Warm Up: 15 minutes in zone 2 (8:00 - 7:00 per mile, build up)
  • Main Set: 3×19 minutes in zone 3 (6:30 - 7:00 per mile) with one minute walk breaks in between
  • Cool Down: 15 minutes in zone 2 (8:00 - 7:00 per mile, build down)

Will end up An icon … but not in a good way!

Personally I hope it changes …

Having never trained for a long course event, I’m not the person to ask for advice, I was simply putting the counter argument that the specificity stage for long course is long steady efforts, so doing long steady efforts now doesn’t build the base.

I’m surprised your running is ‘well below’ target IM pace, but again I’ve never run an IM marathon so wouldn’t know what to target.

Part of the attraction of a high intensity winter followed by lots of long-steady in the summer is time management. It keeps the winter cycling to shorter indoor rides cuts your overall training hours ahead of ramping up when the weather is nicer. But as you have no issues with long training hours all year, then that benefit is moot.

Thats what I was thinking about, but I like your set below, a little faster but a little shorter than I was planning

Open mara is 3:07, Top of Z2 is around 7:50 min per mile

Thats exactly where I am on my longer runs at the moment

That sounds like a good set, those 3x19mins would be a little slower than my HM pace

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Last year was a real breakthrough year for me in terms of long distance performance. And I pretty much trained at or close to race pace.

I feel pretty confident that I know what I am doing on the bike, I know how my body responds to different training, and I am happy to train based on how I feel on the day, so long as I do a number of key workouts in the week.

With running, I am much less confident in what I should be doing. I have been listening to many podcasts, especially from Simon Ward. It seems that a lot of coaches advise running at much lower intensity during the base build phase

With your IM and open marathon times being within 15 minutes of one another, I’d say your run training is good.
The old adage, “if it ain’t broke…”
Maybe just do some more swimming, keep progressing the bike and keep the run as it was - then you’ll see the #Gainz you want?

Nice to see you’re on the same wavelength as me - thanks :slight_smile:

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As later shown, long steady efforts doesn’t always mean the same thing. Last year I did lots of winter running slower than 5min/km, then built in more specific IM pace efforts around 4:40/km closer to race day. Including stuff like 20-30km Z1-low Z2 runs, but might have 3x10/5x5 etc at IM goal pace or just slightly faster towards the end to teach pacing.

Similar philosophy on bike, but bike winter also included lots of Z4/5 work that I didn’t do on run due to concerns of injury.

Was that individual stuff on the turbo?
Up hills, or just taking a much longer turn on the front of group rides?

I had a demoralising hour on the front at the weekend, into the wind.
208W NP for ~27kmh :frowning:
But, when summer comes around, and I’m fully aero’d up on the TT bike and cranking out 210W for 34kmh, I shall remember that hour fondly.

Turbo - typical sessions found online, things like 4x10over/unders FTP, 2X20SS, 4x4 120%, this year I’ve done more hill sprints outdoors.

Saturday 200W NP for 27.6kph - just my normal set up/local roads rather than headwinds!

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I can’t believe you’ve openly admitted that. I should ‘silence’ you until you’ve rectified the issue, given how long you’ve been at it :smile:

But “IM pace” in pure running terms isn’t really that fast is it?

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This is exactly what I was thinking.

IM Pace or IM intensity; in practical terms they are not the same.

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It is.
Modal finishing time for London Marathon for male 18-39 year olds is 3:59.
The useless, oft cited, “average” finish time is circa 4.5 hours.

@Matthew_Spooner ran a 3:22 at his IM in 2019.

That’s ~ 7:42 per mile.
I wouldn’t be doing my long runs that fast. 8:30/mile is much more like it…which is achieved by running at ~8:00/mile, with one minute of walking every 9 minutes, roughly simulating aid stations.

(I think @Hammerer is about to tell us about Alex Yee…)

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