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damian knightsbridge

nice article, how would you rate a program 16 weeks out from a IM event, with at moment 4 rides 2X(75km @ IF of around.65 focus on spin and technique)1 ride(100KM@IF of around .80-.85)
1ride( 130km @IF low .80 ) with 20 min run off bike, not possible to do much more riding with time issues eg work and university.

im riding with a power meter for IF numbers almost tempted to up grade to a joule 2.0 as i can see IF in real time, how ever i have a good feel through perceived effort heart rate and av. power

Damon L

Thanks for another helpful post.

I have a question about 'specificity' when your A event is not a race, but an endurance event? I have a 3 day 320 mile event with 7600m of climbing, where my goal is to finish.

Should my focus be on simulating 'back to back' long rides, the distances and/or the climbing involved?


Bill Cullins

Interesting post, and it highlights the contradiction that we older athletes face (I'm 62). On one hand, intensity is the key for our athletic success, since many of us have decades of base endurance built up. Conversely, we can't do the hard workouts very often, so it's hard to do much intensity. I'm finding that a hard session mid-week and another on the weekend is about all I can do, with all other days being recovery or zones 2-3 stuff. If running is part of the program, than makes it even harder ...I haven't been able to do an "easy" run in years :). My approach has been to do more brick workouts that combine a hard cycling workout with a tempo run.

Joe Friel

Damon L - I'm tempted to answer your question with a single word - yes. But I'll elaborate. You need to be doing workouts that prepare you for the stresses of the 'event' (whether it's a race or not). There are obvious limitations to duration of workouts for ultra events. If training for RAAM, for ex, you wouldn't do intervals across the country for a week. But some how you need to simulate the stresses. There is no formula or fits-everyone answer. That's what makes training interesting. Good luck!

Joe Friel

damian knightsbridge - I'd have to know a heck of a lot more about you to answer that. Even when I coach someone it takes weeks-months to come up with an appropriate plan as I get to know their needs. Good luck!

Justin H

Thanks, Joe! This post addresses the exact issue consuming me for the last week. I'm a 37-year old new racer with only 2 years of light recreational riding under my belt before starting a training program in October. I've struggled for the last few weeks of my Build phase balancing volume and intensity. I use the PMC in TrainingPeaks (with a power meter) to track progress. As my volume has dropped and intensity increased, my total weekly TSS (and overall CTL) is dropping but my body is telling me I'm overreaching. Besides relying on how my body feels (which I'm not good at yet) are there other indicators besides TSS, ATL and CTL that I can rely upon to measure my workload and fatigue at this point in the training stage? Is it normal for the PMC to become less of a workload indicator as you build toward your peak?

Joe Friel

Justin H - As mentioned above, in the Build period it's quite possible that your weekly volume will come down. Weekly TSS is just another way of expressing volume (best way, I believe). So don't sweat it dropping. Just make sure your easy days are, indeed, very easy. In Build there is at least one easy (IF .7). The harder the hard ones (IF >.8), the easier the easy ones (IF <.6). Make sense?



In "Your Best Triathlon" you mention doing a Big Day Workout for Ironman training.
Can these two big day workouts be done as part of the Half Ironman program as well, at 1/2 IM intensity, and just halve the times?
eg. 30min swim, 2.5-3hr bike and 1hr run?

Martin Cléroult

Thank you for that interestings precisions.
Do you recommend to train at specific intensity and duration of the personnal best or you recommend to train at the desire performance ?
Thank you,


Great Post

Just a question. In half ironman training, particularly in your Best Triathlon book, do the total session times still continue to gradually increase in Build 1&2 or does time gradually decrease as the intensity increases?

Joe Friel

Brad--They decrease slightly after Base 3.

Joe Friel

Martin Cléroult--At goal pace/power/speed/HR/effort or slightly above.

Joe Friel

Tim--Yes, that can be done.

david julien


Great post. I think it gets to the heart of peridization. I was wondering if there has ever been a study looking at overall health imparts of periodization. I certainly feel healthier when on a periodization plan.


Joe Friel

david julien - Not that I know of.


I am 52 y.o and have a tendency to "break" every season with a hamstring or calf or something. I love your new book on "Your Best Triathlon." I will be doing Florida IM in the fall. I have previously done a 2 week/ 1 week rotation. I am going to use a "10- day" week during the base phase which will always give me a easier day before and after a hard Interval or Tempo day on the bike or Run.

During my BUILD weeks can I also do well this "10-day" week? Do I need the stress of closer work-outs? Should I do "11 weeks of ten days" as my build if I can keep it together with motivation?

Joe Friel

Dick - In Build the key is to always go into hard workouts rested enough that the quality is high (this assumes you're not training for a stage race which changes the rest-stress ratio a bit). So whatever gets you ready for a quality session is what you want to do.

Dick Sutherland

10 day weeks it is. I have a number of test base numbers now, (VO2 testing, hard half marathon, and power meter FTP) that I will revaluate just before the BUILD period in August and then let you know how Florida goes. If I am lucky I will see you in Kona. ( By "Lucky" I mean winning the Lottery on April 15th!!)



Hi Joe,

my target event is a 220 km und 3500 hm road ride/race.
My yearly Volume is 400 hours of training, so the build period is 10 hours a week.
Typically such a road ride/race last 7-9 hours.

My problem is, if I (nearly) train specific for that duration, 5+ hours of my weekly volume are gone for one training day.
I am a bit lost, how to handle that situation.

Joe Friel

Cattiy - The tables from my Cyclist's Training Bible was not intended for events lasting that long. You'll have to do some calculating.

Matt D

Hi Joe-

I think that this is the first time the idea of periodization finally made sense to me, so I am am greatly appreciative of your article. I've been worrying that the Base period has only trained me to be good at running slower than I would like. It seems that I can stop worrying about slogging along at a 9 min/mile Zone 2 Base pace (based on HR) once I get to the Build phase and instead focus on my 7:30 min/mile Zone 4a (based on HR) goal pace, right?

Mike Schuster

I have been training ~20h+ per week (~3 swim, ~15 bike, ~4 run) for an IM (age 43). I often hear I am doing too much but how would I know? I feel great doing it. As far as I am concerned, the dangers of quantity are: a) injuries (I am OK), b) over-training (maybe, but I feel great), c) losing interest (also OK). The only thing I notice sometimes is that my run times are not 7min/mile anymore if running a lot but I don't worry about it as I know when I run less I will be faster again. What would be the argument to train less?

Joe Friel

Mike Schuster - You're doing great. Keep it up!

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