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Great article. Thanks for explaining in such simple terms. Really brings clarity to the concept of periodization.

Steve Kent

Thanks Joe. Great stuff - as usual! I may not be in your typical demographic regarding competitive athlete - but I suck up all this stuff I can. I am a 53 yr old OFG (old fat guy!) who loves this stuff. BTW, I do have all your books...(-;

I don't have a race schedule, but have tried to apply your principles to a recreation type of schedule for summer riding with "the boys". A typical mountain bike ride is a couple of hours long with some pretty hard efforts required. So the question - how does one apply the concept of "race" specificity when there really isn't a race - just a desire to be more fit and ride better?

I get the idea that optimal fitness cannot be maintained all summer so I am planning some quick transitions. Does one take a week or so in this pahse and then jump right back, or is some buld time required after a transition? How about some endurance work - I was planning on continuing with some zone 2 road rides to maintain/further base fitness?

A quick plan; Beginning of a week devoted to zone 4/5 work with some recovery/zone 2 on the day after. Friday a all zone agressive ride with the boys, followed by Saturday long zone 2 ride. Every 3rd week back off the friday ride a bit and maybe eliminate the Saturday ride - recover.

So, waste of time to try and periodize such a schedule? The "boys" say "just ride" - but last year they were tired of the rides by fall. I think I'm on the right track?

Sorry for being long winded....(-;


Joe Friel

Steve--Thanks for your comment. Not sure what else I an say that I haven't already said in my books about this. But the bottom line is that _everyone_ regardless of ability or performance goal needs periodic rest. This should happen daily, weekly, monthly and annually. How you fit it in is the tricky part. That's where self-coaching art and science come in handy.

Jan Wallin

Hi Joe, I have periodized my training according to your books and my A-priority race this year is Ironman France, june 27. That will be my second IM-distance race, I did my first i 2008. I have a question regarding Big Day of training, 8 and 4 weeks prior to the race. 8 weeks before I have a MTB-race (60 km) and 4 weeks before a road race (110 km). Would you recommend me to do a Big Day instead of the races? I am a strong cyclist but since the cycle course in France is really challenging with a lot of climbing I wonder if I would benefit more from a couple of bike races. I live in a really flat area of Sweden with little opportunity for practice climbing.
All the best.

Joe Friel

Jan--You need to decide if you are a road cyclist or an IM triathlete. Doing a road race, no matter how hard it is, will not prepare you even slightly for an IM.


Hey Joe,

Love reading your stuff. I have a few of your books and use I the ATP manager in training peaks to help with my planning, however I do have a couple of questions regarding periodization.

How does the periodization change for ultra endurance events? For example I have gone from Olympic distance XC races to 24 hour mtb races. What happens with racelike workouts? And does the weight training remain the same (AA, MS etc)

Thanks very much for you time



Joe, my A races this season consist of five- to seven-hour XC MTB races. Given that periodization means "the closer in time you get to the race, the more like the race your workouts must become", then should my training volume still peak at late Base? I trained an average of 8 hours per week during my 3 wks of Late Base (not incl recovery week). I'm now headed into my first Build week, where volume typically starts to decrease (while intensity increases). My worry is that if I start to decrease my volume now, then I may not be working towards specificity for my five- to seven-hour A races. What do you think?

Joe Friel

Darren--No change in concept--the closer to the race, the more like race workouts become. Strength training for MTB remains the same - periodized.

Joe Friel

Jay--Your volume is pretty much minimal for an event of that duration so don't cut it back any more.

Will Murphy

Joe, My question is similar to Darren's. My A race will take over 48 hours nonstop. I have completed races of similar duration a few times before, so I have some sense of what to expect. I am thinking a non-stop workout of anything close to that duration would do little to make me physically stronger and the recovery needed would put a big hole in my training. My thought was a much-abbreviated version, touching on all the disciplines at aerobic pace, and including transitions and other race-like elements. Does that make sense?

Thank you.


PS Although I am an adventure racer, I find your Triathlete's Training Bible a great resource, and mine is highlighted, tabbed and much thumbed-through.


Will M--What you're doing in training sounds good to me. Good luck!


Hey, i have been using your book and its really worked for my training. I compelte a 23 week block. This ended in a race. Not i am wondering how to schedule for my next race. I have 7 weeks before the race begins. i am proposing. Does this seem correct

Base1 11:00:00
Base 1 13:00:00
Base 2 8:00:00
Base 3 12:30:00
Build 1 14:00:00
Build 2 13:00:00
Peak 11:30:00
Peak 09:30:00

Joe Friel

David--Numbers seem a bit strange, but then I don't know what you are training for either. Usually build is less volume than base with more emphasis on intensity. You've done it the other way around. But that may be because you are training for a very long, relatively slow event. Good luck!


Should you have periodization within a week? In other words, is it better to have the most time on one day, less the next, etc., until you have the 7th day either off or the shortest day? Or should the time build through the week, or does it even matter?

Joe Friel

Sandy--The "dose" of a workout (how hard it is in terms of duration and/or intensity) should vary based on the athlete's response to it. In other words, their need for recovery. Anything else is artificial and won't work out in the long term

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