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Michael Bauman

Fascinating, useful, and inspiring -- many thanks, Joel.


Right on Joe. I noticed that you also advised people to hold off on tempo runs during this aerobic/base-building phase of training. Many distance runners incorporate tempo runs during their base phase because they complement the aerobic development that's a focus during this period. Since they're aerobic in nature and therefore not as challenging as intervals, why don't you think they should be included in a base phase?

Carlos Cuenca

Congratulations, Joe, for the new blog, and, by the way, what a nice post.


Three minutes per mile is insane, for lack of a better word. What kind of improvement could a normal human expect? For example, 155 bpm also sits squarely in my Zone 2 HR and corresponds to about 7:35/mile. But my mile PR is 5:05. It seems incomprehensible to be running close to that pace at the same HR.


For running aerobic endurance, do you have to use HR zone 2(Friel system) or can you use Pace zone 2(Friel system)? I find it difficult to get my HR into zone 2 sometimes doing aerobic workouts even though my pace is in mid to high zone 2.

Joe Friel

Shane--Yes, you can use pace. But yu need to make sure you keep testing pace as it will change rapidly at first. Th 2 zone will soon become the 1 zone. HR doesn't change like that.

Joe Friel

Drew--There is no way o predictin that. Can only find out by trying.

Joe Friel

Fitz--Be patient. There is a time that's right but it isn't in the early Base period.

Paul F

G'day Joe,

Would you know what sort of volume he did on a weekly basis to support those developments?


Joe Friel

Paul F--Huge volume. He was putting in more than 30 hours per week even around 40 hpw.


Joe, If you're coming off an A priority race and have a couple of weeks to spare, would you recommend starting off with base 1 (for road cycling), eg. only zone 2, or is it advisable to incorporate some moderate tempo work/cruise intervals into the program as well?

Joe Friel

mg--More than likely I'd have you go back to aerobic endurance training. But, as usual, 'it depends.' There are lots of variables.


Hi Joe,

In training for a (hilly) century ride, what are the longest durations you recommend for:

1) aerobic zone 2 ride

2) "race pace" ride


Joe Friel

srking--I hate to muddy up the water, but I don't use duration in determining the workout for events like a century any more. I use TSS (Training Stress Score) which requires having a power meter. First I figure out what the TSS is likely to be for the event. I then have the rider do a weekly workout of that TSS with an emphasis on high duration-low intesity. Over several weeks that workout shifts from duration-focused to intensity-focused. This is a far more accurate way to train. But a lot more complex. I've written about it in previous posts. Do a search on 'TSS' to find them if you want to know more.


New blog is much cleaner, keep up the good work. According to http://www.duathlon.com/articles/1460 it took Mark Allen a year to get down to 5:20 pace/mile at 155bpm. Might want to double check as your post says 'a few weeks,' which would be mind-boggling.


Nice new blog.

Do you think using decoupling to set steady state duration at a 4 / 5A intensity is useful in increasing aerobic capacity .

thanks JD

Joe Friel

JD--No, I don't think that's a particularly good way to build aerobic capacity. You can do it with volume. It wl just take a long time. High intensity (Coggan 6 zone power) intervals is very effective though. Good luck!


Joe - I enjoyed this entry, but you overstated the rate of improvement Mark Allen made with aerobic heart rate training. You said that Allen improved his pace from 8:15 per mile at 155bpm to 5:20 per mile at that same heart rate, "in a few weeks".

From Mark Allen's original article:

"So, for the next FOUR MONTHS (emphasis added), I did exclusively aerobic training keeping my heart rate at or below my maximum aerobic heart rate, using the monitor every single workout. And at the end of that period, my pace at the same heart rate of 155 beats/minute had improved by OVER A MINUTE (emphasis added). And after NEARLY A YEAR (emphasis added) of doing mostly aerobic training, which by the way was much more comfortable and less taxing than the anaerobic style that I was used to, my pace at 155 beats/minute had improved to a blistering 5:20 mile."

It took Allen almost a year of aerobic training to reap those awesome improvements you cited...not "a few weeks".


Air Jordan

Your blog brings me a lot of fun. Very glad to have the opportunity to meet you. Take ralax and give yourself a surprise, and we will live more happy.


Thanks Joe.

I just started training a few weeks ago after 7months off.

Seeing as though it is already late-June I've pretty much written off this season for competing in any triathlons, I was wondering If I would benefit from doing mostly aerobic training until early next year or if it is important to go on to strength training as well.

Is the measure of a plateau that for the same HR an athlete is no longer increasing in speed?



Joe Friel

Rob--There's no question that doing aerobic training the remainder of this season will be beneficial to your performance next year. It isn't nearly a clear about strength work. I _believe_ it is beneficial.


would you be able to explain how tempos affect the early base phase in a bad way? thanks


Good blog. The formula that Mark Allen used to get himself from a 8:15 pace at 155 bpm to 5:20 was the 180-age formula that Dr. Phil Maffetone developed, which is based on RQ. Mike Pigg used the same formula for his aerobic base work. They also used Maffetone's MAF test to monitor the state of their aerobic system. You can read about Mark's use of the 8k MAF test in the blurb on him in The Lore OF Running, which can be found here:


Steve Kester

Joe, Inside Triathlon's Mark Allen article has brought this topic to the fore again.

I've trained huge volumes in the past, but I still bonk late in the marathon, and I'm wondering if it's because I'm not trained to burn fat well. I'd like to give Mark's (and your) strategies a test.

Here's my question: I have a LOW maximum heart rate (low-mid 160's), so the formulas based on age (I'm 48) still put me in HR zones that I consider high.

Any suggestions?

Joe Friel

Steve Kester - A formula based on averages, such as age, only work if you are average.

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