The Easy Guide to Understanding Training Plans



I know how confusing training plans can be. When I started out, I always found it tough to figure out the terms and drills used, and what they actually meant. But don’t worry, I’m here to help! I’ve put together this awesome guide to make your life easier.

I’m constantly updating this guide, so if you don’t see a particular drill or term mentioned in your plan, just shoot me a message on [email protected]

I want to make sure you have all the information you need to succeed. Take some time to go through the list and watch the videos I’ve linked. They’ll show you exactly how to do each drill and master the necessary skills. Trust me, it’s worth it!

Understanding Zones

Knowing your training zones and training within the appropriate intensity level is vital for running and triathlons. It helps you avoid burning out, overtraining, and pushing yourself too hard. Going too high in intensity can be unsustainable and lead to fatigue and injuries. By staying within your zones, you can find the right balance, gradually improve, and prevent setbacks. It allows for better pacing, builds endurance, and ensures long-term progress while minimising the risk of exhaustion. Respect your training zones to maintain a sustainable routine, reduce injury risks, and perform your best on race day.

As a coach I tend to use RPE, Heart Rate and Power as metrics to train my athletes. Which we use depends firstly on whether an athlete has a monitor for their heart rate, or a power meter. If they have all three available then I recommend new athletes to train by Heart Rate whilst they develop a feel for the RPE with each zone. FTP training is fantastic, but newer athletes can overtrain if they don’t listen to their bodies or if they are using an incorrect FTP to calculate their zones. More experienced athletes can use RPE and reflect on power and heart rate data better after training, and if they are consistent with training and understand their limits well they can use Power with excellent results.


(Rate of Perceived Exertion)
Max HR %
(Maximum Heart Rate Percentage)
(Functional Threshold Power Percentage)
DescriptionSubjective measure of perceived effort during exercisePercentage of your maximum heart rate for running and cyclingPercentage of your functional threshold power on the bike
MeasurementBased on how hard you feel you’re working on a scale from 0 to 10Based on your max heart rate, worked out by age-based formulas or lab testsBased on your functional threshold power, typically determined through testing
When To UseUseful when HR or power data is unavailable. It provides valuable insights into zone training, complementing HR or power measurementsWhen using a heart rate monitor, a chest strap has more accuracy. This will allow you to monitor your zones accurately but it can be impacted by environmental factors and other physiological impactsPerfect to use for output performance training and monitoring. It does not take physiological issues into account so can be a challenging metric to follow for all training if an athlete lacks consistency
ApplicationUsed to gauge intensity based on subjective perceptionUsed to prescribe exercise intensity based on target heart rate zonesUsed in cycling to prescribe exercise intensity based on power output

Calculating Zones


Here are the training zones I use as a coach and the ones I give to my athletes. The only thing I don’t cover here is Pace. I will cover that next!

Zone Type RPE Max HR % FTP % Benefits Training Intensity Timed Intervals
1 Easy 1-2 50-60% 45-55% Enhances recovery, builds aerobic base Low 30 minutes +
2 Moderate 3-4 60-70% 55-75% Improves endurance, fat burning Steady 30 minutes +
3 Tempo 5-6 70-80% 75-90% Increases lactate threshold, race pace training Moderate 10-30 minutes
4 Threshold 7-8 80-90% 90-105% Improves anaerobic capacity, race-specific training High 5-15 minutes
5 V02 Max 8-9 90-100% 105-120% Increases maximum oxygen uptake, improves speed Very High 1-4 minutes
6 Anaerobic 9-10 100-105% 120-150% Develops speed and power Maximum Less than 1 minute
7 Power 10+ 105%+ 150%+ Develops max power Maximum Less than 20 seconds

When To Train With Pace

Training with pace is essential for runners when they want to improve their speed and performance. Incorporating pace-focused workouts into your training routine helps you become familiar with different running speeds and develop a sense of pacing. Whether you’re aiming to set a personal record or enhance your race-day performance, training with pace allows you to simulate race conditions, build endurance, and improve your ability to maintain a consistent speed. You will only be able to race at the paces you practice, so to run fast, you need to train fast which is where pace is an important metric for training especially when you have a PB in mind.

Zone 1Easy Recovery50-70% of Maximum Threshold Pace
Zone 2Endurance70-90% of Maximum Threshold Pace
Zone 3Tempo90-95% of Maximum Threshold Pace
Zone 4Lactate Threshold95-100% of Maximum Threshold Pace
Zone 5V02 Max100-103% of Maximum Threshold Pace
Zone 6Speed104-110% of Maximum Threshold Pace
Zone 7Sprint110%+ of Maximum Threshold Pace

How To Test?

To test your zones I look at 20 minute tough efforts in each discipline to calculate your threshold power, pace and heart rate. It takes some practice and the more you do it the easier it becomes to gauge effort.

I recommend retesting regularly, typically every 4-8 weeks depending on the athlete and their goals. This is a great way to monitor improvements and update your zones so your training progresses along with your updated fitness.

I have a training week available to purchase on Training Peaks for $4.95 using the link below, this will link to your sports watch and Zwift so you can test yourself easily at home.