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As far as intensity goes for early in the season, I too believe in what you are writing about. I have also read other training materials from Endurance Nation where they preach get fast first, then go long. Any thoughts on this approach to training? Thanks.

Michael Wentland

Joe, I have your Training Bible fo cycling, and I've read it. But your blog posts have a way of interpreting all that info on a real life timeline, which is really helpful for someone like me. Also, my early / off season training is by far the hardest for me to get tuned, so I want to say thanks, and keep the posts coming!


With respect to the inter-relationship of intensity and duration on road cyclist training, the length of the “A” race seems like it should have an influence on some aspects of the structure and content of Base 1 and 2. To what extent should the ‘long rides’ of Base resemble one’s “A” races?

The subtext for this question is as follows - For riders whose “A” race is 60-80 miles, it may well take a month or two to get comfortable and coupled on Zone 2 rides of 3-4 hours duration. But what about female and masters road cyclists whose “A” races are in the range of 35 miles. What is the metric for successful completion of Base 1 and 2 goals in that setting? As I look at my plan, it is not hard to have three or four race-duration rides a week with one or two strength/weights days, and keep total weekly training under 10 hours. And even with a month off after end-of-year longer distance charity rides, it is not hard, given the broadness of Coggan’s zone 2, to stay coupled “if I want to” (i.e. if I am mindful of pacing at the lower end of Zone 2, 55-65% FTP the whole way). Staying coupled at 60% FTP for 2 hours isn’t a goal that requires much reaching.

Should road racers with such short “A” races still make staying aerobically coupled on rides 3-4 hours long the Base 1 and 2 goal (this would be the reach for someone already coupled at race duration/distance)? Or, is there a case to be made for earlier introduction of some Zone 3/Tempo in such circumstances? Not to make the question more complicated, but I particularly enjoyed your posts on aging and performance, and am trying to figure out how I can be faithful to the Training Bible concept of Base 1 and 2 and also incorporate some training elements into Base 1-3 that will minimize the age-related loss of power.
Many thanks!


Thanks Joe. Great articles, and they compliment the book (Tri) nicely.

My question relates to swimming, and how you measure intensity. My heart rate monitor does not function well in the water, so I tend to go on pace. If I have a PB 1,500m of 23:20, what sort of pace should I aim for during the base periods?

Or should I just go on my rate of perceived execration?


Thanks Joe!


Looking forward to the workout examples.
For now i enjoy some strength and running workouts, since i am a MTBiker, When the snow comes i will do alot of crosscountry skiing.
I believe this is good base training?


Hi Joe,
as you wrote here, and also in your book, we'd do a lot of E2 workouts during the base period.

Should we try to stay in zone 2 during most of the time of an E2 workout, or just to make sure that the average HR will be in zone 2, by the end of the workout?
I'm asking this, because i don't own a powermeter (yet), so i rely mostly at the HR monitor.

Thanks a lot for your effort!

Joe Friel

Christopher--In Base 1 I'm a bit laissez-faire about how we get z2. I look for about 50% of the total workout times for these workouts to be in z2. Any way the athlete can achieve that is ok by me. It could, for example, be z2 intervals of whatever duration or a steady run. This is the same for HR or power or pace.

Joe Friel

Hans--Sounds good. Now is a good time to have 'fun' with training.

Joe Friel

Jaco--See table 4.1 in Tri Training Bible.

Joe Friel

Madeleine--Wow, a lot of questions and solid thinking there. Not sure I can remember and comment on all of the Q's. Couple of thoughts... In Base 1 we're just playing around in z2. Just get lots of time there. By Base 2 I shift intensity to the upper half of z2. The minimum z2, AeT ride I have cyclists (regardless of sport) do is 2 hours. That's 2h at z2. There is likely to be some warm up and cool down also. As for how to determine the duration of a 'long' ride, I use the anticipated TSS of the race as a guide for how long to make the Base long rides. I'll get into Base 2 training, when it gets a some what more serious, a bit later on here.

Joe Friel

Rob--All I can say is, once again, that workouts should become increasingly like the race the closer in time you get to that race. Why would anyone want to do workouts that are increasingly unlike the demands of the race as they get closer to the race? So realize that the periodization of _intensity_ for an IM athlete is far different than that for a sprint-distance triathlete. The only question remains: Are the workouts becoming increasingly like the race? If they are then it doesn't really matter what one may think in absolute terms (speed in base and duration in build vs duration in base and speed in build).


Hey Joe, here's a good one. I have a power tap and garmin 705 head unit, making it amazingly easy to keep track of zones while riding. But...when I get into my HR zone 2, my power zone is well into zone 3, usually half way into 3. I've done test to determine my LT based on power and HR, both the TT test and a graded exertion test, done to max. How come my zones aren't matching up? Have you run into this before? And what should I do to accurately monitor my intensity?

Im a very strong cat 1, 24 years old. And around 7% body fat, 75 VO2 max. Just to give you an idea of my fitness level to help answer my question.

Joe Friel

Josh--That's not unusual. They seldom match up perfectly but usually overlap some. Having a z2 HR lower than z2 power is a good thing.


Hi Joe,
Thanks for the article.
Can I ask about taking part in races during the base period?
Is it ok take part in the odd race during these periods or is it vital to keep all sessions at a low intensity?

Matt Borowski

I'm looking to add a WKO+ compatible power meter for 2011 without breaking the bank. Joe or any readers have experience/comments with the iPro?


Joe Friel

Matt B--Never used it but you can read about it here - http://tinyurl.com/25qmjrx

Joe Friel

Jay K--An occasional race is ok. I don't think there will be any physiological harm from that.

Larry Tieman

Would you modify anything if the target ride is a PAC Tour multi-week ride? I have done their southern transcontinental (2900 miles in 26 days) so I know the pace, am training for their Ridge of the Rockies next summer and need to improve my climbing. I am 62, live in Boulder and train primarily on Lefthand Canyon. I have both editions of your Training Bible but they don’t seem to address this level of endurance cycling.

Joe Friel

Hi Larry--I don't coach ultras but the basic rule remains the same - the closer you get to the race the more like the race workouts should become. Must be getting cold coming down Left Hand by now. My last time up there was in early Sept and it was still quite warm.


Hi Joe,

what is the plan, when A Races are 200+ km long an I have 10 hours planned for training in the week?
If I would get more race specific nearly all my planned training time would be used for the race specific workout?


hey joe how about a part 5 for nutrition during base periods/off season on and off the bike? havent raced since late september and been doing all workouts on just water to keep the sugar low and try to get the body using more fat. is this the right approach?




I am a triathlete who competes primarily in 70.3 distance races. A couple of times a week, I like to ride with some road cyclists who are faster riders than me. The ride time is approximately 90 minutes, and my intensity level is high in order to try and keep up with the group. I believe these rides make me faster. In order to get 12 weeks of base in before my first A race next year, I should begin base training in a couple of weeks. However, I would really like to continue these intense rides through the Winter. Do you think such rides are counterproductive in the base period? I see above that you believe anaerobic training is not necessarily counterproductive in the base period. I use the Training Peaks Virtual Coach system for my training plan. Thank you for your help and your informative blogs.

Joe Friel

Jenny--It depends on how the ride progresses. The group I like to ride with hammers (races) all winter with lots of anaerobic capacity/endurance work. This is counterproductive for me, and I'm a road racer. So I stay away from them until late winter/spring. It's even more counterproductive for triathletes. Regardless of your race distance. Doing bike road races (which is what most roadies do in group rides--altho yours may not) is not going to make you a faster 70.3 racer. Just because you're breathing hard, HR is high and you are wasted at the end doesn't mean you are going to be faster at tris of any distance. Spend more time doing HIM-specific training. I know you won't believe me because tris never do on this topic.

Joe Friel

Justin--I'm still mulling that topic over. May write on it later.

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