Andrew Raynor Dover New Hampshire NH

Triathlon information in New Hampshire

The Importance of Intensity Zones During Training

Andrew Raynor Dover

Very often we hear about athletes working in this grey zone, however this area doesn’t allow athletes to improve their performance.  The grey zone is where many athletes spend their training, because they believe that to race fast they must train fast and constantly push the pace.  It also feels nice, and is enjoyable to roll along with mates!

As a result, their ‘easy sessions’ are done at an intensity level that doesn’t properly develop their aerobic system, and their ‘hard sessions’ are done below the required intensity to fully develop their anaerobic system, as they are too tired from their ‘easy session’.

The middle or grey zone is always a bad choice

The mistake isn’t the intensity itself but maintaining this same pace in all training sessions. So, the training becomes counterproductive and a lot of of time and energy is wasted. Athletes who try to do too much speed work in a given week will either burnout or perform sub-optimally.

REMEMBER: If you push hard all the time, you will be tired and unable to push harder when you need to!!!

In all three disciplines it is important to respect the following progression:

Warm Up: Should last between 15 minutes and half an hour; this gives the body plenty of time to gradually get ready for physical activity and to prepare the athletes mentally for the work ahead. Warm-up can also be used to practice skills and drills.  The warm-up should gently prepare the body for exercises by gradually increasing the heart rate and circulation; this will loosen the joints and increase blood flow to the muscles

Main Set: Depending on which training cycle you are in, you will cover varying sessions on endurance / stamina work, and speed / power work.

Warm Down: The length of your warm-down depends on the length and intensity of your session. A tougher session requires a longer warm-down than a steady run. The objective is to return to a resting state over a period of 15 minutes to half an hour. The warm down can also take the form of other parts of the triathlon e.g. a loosen up short swim after a hard run.

Four training intensity zones: easy, moderate, medium, mad.

Training intensity refers to the exertion level put forth during training. Is your workout “easy” or “hard”? Were you able to talk while doing that run or were you gasping for air?  These are all factors that can help characterize the intensity at which you are working.

The Trisutto training methodology uses 4 intensities.

Easy: This can be for recovery – an easy run, easy bike ride or swim helps to clear the waste products out of the muscles and increase the blood flow after an hard session. The real benefit of recovery runs is that they increase your fitness, promotes muscle tissue repair, glycogen replenishment or any other physiological response.   EASY can also be the warm up, and warm down before and after then main set in a workout.

Moderate: to develop peripheral training adaptations:  increase fat metabolism, increase number of aerobic enzymes.

Medium: To increase lactate threshold and maximal aerobic capacity.  Improve efficiency (same speed, lower heart rate then a previous marker).  “Broken conversation’’

Mad: do this only if you really feel up to it. To increase stroke volume, increase maximal aerobic capacity, and lactate tolerance (buffering capacity).  “Broken conversation” ceases. Tingly or heavy muscles likely.

Indoor training for focusing the intensity zone

Turbo trainer
Turbo training allows you to do your workouts in a controlled environment that can be easily and accurately measured and reproduced. What’s more, it’ll probably be easier to train consistently as you won’t have the weather as an excuse to miss training.

Use indoor sessions to work on your ability to maintain a hard effort for an extended period of time by focusing on intensity.

There’s little to no point simply climbing on and pedalling randomly. To get the most from your stationary pedalling, you should start with a session plan. To be effective, this must be suited to your current level of fitness, and to your goals

Running indoors comes to mind with inclement weather, however running indoor is a great supplement to outdoor running and offers such advantages as: quicker workouts, speed and form improvement, safety, and it allows creativity in movement.

With tapis training it’s possible to reproduce different and increasingly intense zones / pace.


  • Don’t make all your workouts High-intensity training
  • Respect different intensity zones
  • Optimise Your Recovery For Optimal Performance
  • Hacking your body’s ability to bounce back from competitions, intense workouts or even just intense training or work periods is key to enhancing your performance.


Irene has been a multisport competitor for over 5 years. She is a 70.3 World Championship qualifier and recently dedicated herself to a full time coaching career, completing the Trisutto Coaching Certification Course and working as co-coach at 3 camps. She is based out of Padua, Italy and speaks Italian and English. online triathlon coaches are available to help improve your performance here.


Andy Raynor Dover

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