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Garmin connect tri training plans

Hi, has anyone used the training plans that come with garmin connect? They seem to involve a lot of time on heart rate zone 1. I am new to heart rate training but I thought that would be too low and most of the training should be in zone 2. Am I missing something?


  • HarryDHarryD Posts: 425
    Jack, may be worth checking out how Garmin defines its zones, how many there are and how they compare to others. For example Joe Friel has 7 zones, Matt Fitzgerald 5 in his run book and 7 for triathlon. Joe's and Matt's zones aren't the same but come close to agreeing in % terms. This website has published various formula for zones, many of which are incomprehensible. Is not always clear when articles quote zones how those zones are defined, i.e. lack of house style.

    The guy who wrote the Garmin Triathlon plans is a well regarded coach but you do need to know how he defines the zones. I understand Garmin use 6 zones on Connect.

    Personally I favour Matt's zones as defined in 80/20 Triathlon but have also happily used Joe's.

    Cheers, Harry
  • JackjJackj Posts: 6

    Thanks Harry, Garmin has 5 zones, based on heart rate, with the top of zone 5 being fixed at 100%. I think the garmin zones are based on max heart rate. z1 50-60%, z2 60-70%, z3 70-80%, z4 80-90%, z5 90-100%.

    My problem is that a lot of the garmin tri plan is in z1. If I take garmin's definition of that, then top of z1 is only 101 bpm. Which seems mega low.

    If I use Joe's (based on a field test) then his z1 top for me is 123 on a bike, 128 running. That seems much more realistic as an 'easy pace'. I agree Matt's levels aren't that far off Joe's by my calcs.

    I just started reading Matt's 8020 tri book. Interesting. The garmin connect plan definitely follows the low intensity principle, I just wish the calculation of the zones made more sense. The other thing with the garmin plan is that it references z3 a fair amount, which I've heard is bad place to be in for training. So I'm not sure where to go with it next, or my training plan really!

  • HarryDHarryD Posts: 425
    Jack, the zones you quoted look like garbage to me with no relationship to the physiological demands of each zone. Not sure I'd be able to get out of bed in Z1.

    Looks like the Garmin training plans are a non-starter. Finish reading Matt's book and by the end I expect you will decide to use his training plans - I would. It defines the zones, tells you how to find your own and how to use them in a training plan - can't ask more than that

    Nothing wrong with Z3 workouts as long as they are appropriate to what you are trying to achieve - depending on what is defined as Z3. Again there is a great deal of variance in what various coaches define as Z3.

    Cheers, Harry
  • JackjJackj Posts: 6

    Thanks Harry, I've now switched my training plan over to MF. I'm a beginner: good on bike, slow in the water but can make the distances, and absolute pants at the running. So I'm using his sprint level 0 plan.

    The running still looks daunting though, and I'm surprised at the lack of rest weeks. I haven't found that lack referred to in the book yet. I might swap some of the runs for shorter ones in the same groups.

    Cheers, Jack

  • HarryDHarryD Posts: 425
    Jack, most of the plans have every third week with a reduced volume. Not all are that obvious. They do include some quality work whereas Joe Friel's don't. They are also every third week whereas many coaches would work on a four week cycle.

    See how you get on. As long as you gradually increase volume and quality you'll be OK. Most triathletes I know don't have any plan at all so you'll progress better than they do. Enjoy your training. If you miss a session then leave it missed. Don't play catch up. The odd missed session won't hold you back much if at all whereas playng catch up will. Go into your race under rather than overcooked. Make sure you go into the moderate and high intensity sessions ready give your all rather than see them being a chore. Also leave all sessions feeling you could have done one more rep or a bit more distance.

    Cheers, Harry
  • JackjJackj Posts: 6

    Thanks Harry, really useful feedback, especially the stuff about keeping myself in check! What do you mean by "quality" please? (something more than Foundation?)

    In week 7 of the training, I'll be away skiing. When I get back, do you recommend picking up in week 8, as though I hadn't been away?

    Cheers, Jack.

  • HarryDHarryD Posts: 425
    Jack, I used the term quality to refer to Z3, Z4, or Z5 workouts, i.e. Moderate and High intensity ones. Poor choice of word because Low intensity Z1 & Z2 are so critical and have also to be of the right "quality" in terms of intensity and duration.

    I would do week 7 when you get back. Its something you can plan for rather than the unplanned missed sessions discussed previously. You will lose a little bit of "tri" fitness in that week you are away but don't worry about it. If you have access to a pool do some technique work rather than full sessions. If like me you are a poor swimmer you may lose a lot of that "feel for the water". I do, even after a week of not swimming.

    Cheers, Harry
  • JackjJackj Posts: 6

    Hi Harry, one more question if I may. I am now factoring in the strength routines. Do you recommend not doing them on the rest days? ie keep the rest days as 100% rest. I am 52 years old so I figure the rest days are a little bit extra important as I don't recover as quick as I used too.

    Cheers, Jack

  • HarryDHarryD Posts: 425
    Jack, I have only had a quick look at the 80/20 strength and conditioning section and don't use it myself. I do Hatha yoga once a week plus focused body-weight/strength exercises, stretches and activation work daily (15-20min).

    I would recommend classifying the exercises as stretching (increasing range of mobility) which can be/should be done daily, activation work (gets muscles firing that are otherwise switched off or lazy) can be done daily or in the case of glutes best done before a run or bike session and strength (being able to apply a greater force or lift more weight or the same weight more often) probably twice a week.

    A bit of stretching and activity work on an otherwise day off can make you feel alive. Strength work I would do on the same day after a run or hard/moderate bike. Try and avoid doing strength work the day before a hard or moderate session as you want to be as fresh as possible for it.

    I suggest working out the sessions you want to do in a week and spread them out over the seven days. Set an upper limit on the time you are going to spend each day say 15 or 20min and keep to it. Clearly if you get injured and your physio sets a rehab programme that may change. What you are looking for is consistency and gradual progression. Every four weeks review what you are doing but don't change just for changes sake.

    Hope this helps, Harry
  • JackjJackj Posts: 6

    That does help Harry, thank you. I do yoga once a week too. Love it. You mentioning the physio was a good kick up the backside. I have an old thigh injury which is starting to flair up. If I do the exercises the physio gave me, it calms down, so I am going to build my strength/stretching/mobility plan around that.

    Yesterday I did what you said; a set of strength exercises after an interval bike workout. It worked a treat, followed by a solid set of static stretching (which I have been doing to a lesser degree after bikes and runs).

    Lasst year, I discovered the benefits of glute activation - well, it was pointed out to me by my girlfriends sister who is a physio. I really feel the benefit of doing those before cycling and running. I will start doing the 8020 mobility exercises they recommend pre-swimming.

    Good tip on not doing strength stuff the day before a hard/moderate session. And you are right about the days off; I definitely need something on those days as although I welcome the rest, I feel a bit flat - I must be addicted to the endorphines!

    I've started looking at diet now, currently reading "Racing Weight". My diet isn't bad. I don't eat/drink and refined sugar or alcohol, and I calorie & nutrient count. But according to Matt, during the training phrase, I shouldn't have a calorie deficit, which I have been (roughly 300 a day) to try and shake 10 lbs. Also he says I should be at 50-55% calories from carbs, and I've been at 35-40%. So that could possibly be why I've been getting tired the last three weeks.

    So much to learn but I feel it's coming together and I'm gradually establishing a routine to embed the consistency and gradual progression.

    Thanks again for your time and help. Cheers, Jack.

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