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Zone 2 Training (or lack of!)

Hi all,

I'm in my second (1st serious) year of triathlon, and I've gone down a line of thinking that I hear is quite common:

"The faster and harder I train, the faster I'll be come race season".

Here's an example of my training programme, which has changed little since October. My main targets are sprint and olympic distance triathlons, towards the end of May through to mid June.

M: Weights
T: am - Core and Flex pm - Hour intense swim
W: pm - Club Ride
T: pm - Running intervals (250m - 1500m)
F: am - Spinning intervals pm - Hour swim
S: Rest
S: Club Ride

I don't run more than once a week to avoid shin splints and my technique isn't good enough to allow me to do long steady swims. Therefore, my only "Long Steady" work is on the bike on Wednesday and Sunday. However, I always get tempted into going with the fast group, meaning I hang on the back for 2-3 hours and am absolutely shattered when I get back.

I have been reading a lot recently (and now understand the science behind it) that Zone 2 work is absolutely critical to endurance athletes, and I have done almost none of it through the season. 

Zone 2 is certainly something I'll make an effort to incorporate into my training over next winter, but is it too late now? If you think I will benefit from Zone 2 training now, how many sessions a week should i do and for how long to benefit come my target races? Would I be better keeping up the intervals as always?

I really appreciate any advice. Let me know if what I've said isn't clear.


Thanks! Will


  • gavinpgavinp Posts: 168

    Hi Will

    For Sprint/Olympic distance races you don't need to be going more than three hours on the bike.  It's good to be pushed on the bike so keep hanging off the back at this time of the year.  It'll be good for you  BUT,  don't forget to have the odd easy ride (your zone 2) where you look around (rathe than face down at the tarmac/wheel in front), take it easy and ENJOY the ride.  You'll call this your recovery/zone 2 ride that you will do every 3-4 weeks.

    Running however, requires that easy zone 2 run weekly (i.e. you should be able to talk all the way through without panting too hard) to build strength/stamina into your legs.  You still need to be doing these all the way through the season (in my opinion) - though for you, a long easy run doesn't need to be more than 1 - 1.5hours (you are only doing Sprints and Olympic distances after all).

    Swimming?  Well, again you don't need to be doing 'long' swims (unless you mean getting up to your race distance and swimming at race pace closer to your races..) you would benefit from doing a technique session at least once a week as well as  endurance/speed sessions.  To get better/faster at swimming you are going to need to do more than two sessions a week i'm afraid. 3-4 is more like it.

    Hope this helps a little.

    Have fun!

  • HarryDHarryD Posts: 425

    Generally agree with what GavinP says

    Zone 2 runs, rides & swims are to condition your body for the endurance element of our sport and can deliver quite a high level of performance. You will generally recover from them quickly so that you can do your hard stuff hard

    To get that bit extra you need to do either brutally hard short reps (2 to 4 minutes) or longer race pace reps (10 to 30minutes). Clearly the mix depends on your training history and the races you wish to do. The longer reps are pretty much race like.

    Not sure if hanging off the back of a club ride is ideal. Your work rate could be in the middle ground of higher than endurance but not race intensity. Even if at race pace you are in a group you will getting the benefit of drafting. You don't race triathlons in a pack. However, if it's the only training you can manage then do it
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