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I have followed your training for some years and for this season I have my A-race (Ironman-distance)in the beginning of october. I have some problem with my lumbar so I will not race cross-country skiing this winter as I normally do. How should I train during Winter/spring? If i follow your 23 weeks plan I should start base the first week of may, but up until then?

Joe Friel

Jan--I'd suggest you start base whenever ready. Once you've completed base 3 repeat it until it's time for build to start. Once you start repeating it you'll probably be able to handle more training load. This is a great opportunity to develop really great base fitness.


Hi Joe,

I've been revisiting the training bible after my first couple of years of consistent and periodized training. My general pattern during that time has been rides of about 1 hour on weekdays, with long rides usually being 3.5-5 hrs. My biggest problem as a racer has been endurance - despite what I think is pretty high volume compared to my competition (Cat 3 road racers), I've only once finished a >2 hr road race without cramping and getting dropped, despite rarely experiencing cramps in 4+ hr training rides.

In looking at the suggested hours breakdown, I notice that there are very few rides >2 hrs on my schedule, but there are more rides in the 1.5-2 hour range than I've done in the past. My pattern has been 45-70 minute weeknight trainer sessions with 3-5 hr weekend long rides. My question is two-fold. 1) Do you think that the lack of 'middle-distance' in base and prep periods has hampered my endurance? and 2) Is it fine or even beneficial to substitute a 1.5 and a 2 hour endurance ride by a 3.5 hour ride?

Thanks a lot,

Armi Legge

Great post Joe, Quick question -

On page 248 of Triathlete's Training bible, you have a chart to help predict your 1RM for strength training. Do you remember where you found that or have a reference? Thanks and keep up the great work.

Joe Friel

Armi--I sure don't. Sorry. Wrote that in 1997 and I'm afraid my memory isn't that good.

Joe Friel

Bert-- Your questions: 1) Do you think that the lack of 'middle-distance' in base and prep periods has hampered my endurance? A: You seem to be defining endurance as not having cramps. Those aren't exactly the same thing. So I'm not sure which you are more concerned about. If aerobic endurance, then the key is doing lots of miles at a steady z2-3 effort. Not a function simply of saddle time. If cramps then search for that on my blog to read what I've already written. 2) Is it fine or even beneficial to substitute a 1.5 and a 2 hour endurance ride by a 3.5 hour ride? A: Depends on what you do as far as intensity. Duration accounts for only about 40% of your performance (assuming you are beyond the first 3 years of serious training). Intensity is the other 60%. Focus on that instead.


JOe, whereas Z2 is Aerobic energy zone and upper Z4 is the Anaerobic Threshold, what kind of energy is used in Z3 and Z4? Mixed aerobic oxygen + Glycogen?

Joe Friel

Beto--One is always using carb and fat for fuel. As workload increases (approaching or exceeding anaerobic t-hold) carb useage increases. As it approaches aerobic t-hold, fat use increases.

Duncan Lally


I am tracking heart rate as I prepare for a half-marathon in Geneva Switzerland, and am exploring-creating WKO charts to help me track my progress.

Quick question - for today's long run of 11k I stuck to my aerobic pace zone using my Garmin, but my heart rate zone distribution was mostly at sub-threshold and tempo. (Set my LTHR for running 2 days ago using your 30 minute test).

Any thoughts? The pace didn't seem too bad but I wonder if I should reduce my pace in future to lower heart rate so that I train mostly in the aerobic HR zone.

As a general point - do HR and pace zones mostly match up, in your experience?

Many thanks!

Joe Friel

Duncan--I like to have athletes use heart rate for these workouts in the first 3-5 weeks, until efficiency factor plateaus. Then I like to go to pace (or power on bike) until EF stabilizes. Then it's time to go to anaerobic threshold training. Good luck!

Bobby Stanley


When I am doing a cycling workout (well say an AE ride). It's hard to keep my HR in zone 2 due to downhills, uphills, wind, etc. Is there a certain speed that I could look to aim for? Lets say based on 24 mph. Thanks


Joe Friel

Bobby Stanley - No, speed doesn't work on a bike due to head and tailwinds (and other variables). That's why power is so valuable on a bike.

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