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Hey Joe,

A question about the Zone 3 intervals you recommend for Base 2. In your Training Bibles, you recommend doing a single Tempo segment starting at 20-30 mins about twice a week, adding 10-15 minutes to the segment each week. Here, though, you're recommending interval training in Zone 3. Has your thinking on this topic changed, and thus we should follow this new recommendation rather than doing Tempo rides in Zone 3?

Joe Friel

Paige--I've been doing what I suggested here for my athletes the last 2 years with some success. But not everything works the same way for everyone.


Having read your Tri-Train-Bible twice I guess I do understand what you're trying to preach. It also makes a lot of sense to me for professional athletes but I do have one problem and that also made me change up my training (even though I'm in base and my first A-race is in July) and would like to hear your opinion/input on it:
We all know that VO2max is a very important factor and athletes which have been racing for years usually maintain their VO2max year around at the same level. However, a new athlete (like me) still needs to develop his engine and therefore I incorporated VO2max workouts (twice a week 4-5min run intervals at 3k speed) for the sole purpose of increasing my VO2max which I estimated to be around ~53 mls/kg/min (from my 5k time).

I know a long steady run will also increase my VO2max but not as much as a specific vo2max workout.

So my question: Can I justify (since I'm at the beginning of my training) that I do these intervals even in the base period?

Joe Friel

Fritz--I've said this before, but I don't believe there is any negative consequence physically from doing above LT/AT intervals in the Base period, even year round. The possible exception is for novice runners. Injury is highly likely. But for swimmers, cyclists, XC skiers, etc it's probably not going to be a physical challenge. But it may become a mental one. Variety plays some role in an athlete avoiding burnout.

John Karrasch

Joe, already done 3 months of base work this year with 2 tempo sessions (60-120min. L3) weekly and one Sweet Spot workout, and 2 L2 rides of 3 to 4 hours.

I have 3 more months of base to do at this point before I start my build. Do i delete an L3 session for another sweet spot or what here? Or should I just keep on with what i am doing?

Brandy Broadbent

Hi Joe,

I've been used the Tri Training Bible this past season with much success! Do you still recommend a Prep period, or suggest starting off with Base 1?

thank you,


How do you feel about training on a fixed gear at this stage? I live in a hilly area and with my gearing it seems like it would be force training, but I am concerned about positioning. It is not the same as my road bike because of the shorter cranks (165 versus 172.5 on the road). Would that cause a problem in form later? Thanks.



What are your thoughts on extending base period as a whole? My guess is that if you have time till your first A race, it wont hurt to do more Base (my guess is that better to spend more time in Base 2 or 3, versus Base 1).

What about doing 4 weeks on and 1 week recovery? Assuming the athlete has 10 weeks to Build and with Base 1 completed, have you ever done 4+1 for Base 2 and 3 for your athletes? Any advice, tips? Am assuming like a mini recovery period after 2 weeks might be a good idea (maybe 2 days off instead of the typical 1 day off).


It turns out I have a family vacation schedule mid-Feb and my plan is to start Build upon return. Thus I have about 10 weeks of base left. I could make Base 2 and 3 each 5 weeks long (4 weeks building volume, 1 week recovery)


A question regarding fitting in 'C' races within Base (and other) periods. As I understand it, the intention is that 'C' races should not interrupt a given week, and should be classed as 'just another workout'. What sort of workouts should they replace in Base-1/2/3, when intensity is low? Should they replace the once-a-week 3-zone work discussed above, or should we be making space for that as well?



What are you thoughts on 16 weeks of Base?
I live in Salt Lake City and typically look for my results in June and July. The climate dictates my preference for a mid summer peak. Because of the cold, I prefer to add a second Base 2 phase, primarily because I do most of my long endurance days on the XC skis. What is your take on 8 weeks of Base 2? I've seen plans where you advise 8 weeks of Base 3, but the problem is that it requires more time on the bike, which isn't always the best approach in the intermountain west come February. I find cold, cold rides about as draining as long sessions on the trainer. It seems that until a rider is ready to committ six days a week to the bike, he is best served staying in the middle phases of Base training.


Now that we're 'indoors' in WI, and workouts on the trainer can be more 'precise' than the variability of roads/wind/etc, a quick q:

In your opinion, when designing a workout, is there any difference in net effect on the athlete whether the workout is done via a CT .erg file (computer controlled load) versus the athlete self-achieving the same load on a regular trainer (or CT not in erg mode)?


Hi Joe, thanks for your continuing posts on Base training. I digested your Triathlete's Training Bible many years ago, and your current posts are very good at refreshing my memory. Two questions, one about timed workouts in recovery periods, and the other about strength training in the Base periods:

1) I seem to remember something about doing timed workouts in each of the three triathlon disciplines during recovery weeks as a way of measuring gains in fitness. Are those timed works recommended during the 3-6 days of recovery-oriented workouts prescribed for the last week of each Base period?

2) In Base 1 Training, Part 3, it says that Base 1 and 2 are 3-4 weeks each; and in the current post on Base 2 and 3 training, it recommends cutting back strength training to maintenance levels. If Base 1 is the only period when strength training is emphasized, and it only lasts 3-4 weeks, that doesn't seem like enough time to develop strength. Am I missing something?


Joe, you mention that recovery weeks in the Base period should only include short and low-intensity workouts for 3-6 days. Does this mean NO Force or Muscular endurance workouts? Only Aerobic Endurance and Speed skill workouts right?

Joe Friel

Hi Jay--Yes, I think that's best for recovery.

Joe Friel

Bruce--Yes, if you're going to test the time to do it is at the end of those 3-6 days. As for strength training, I've found it only takes 6-9 sessions to achieve max strength. That can probably be done in 3-4 weeks. But it may 'slop' over into base 2.

Joe Friel

Tryinghard--No, I don't there's a significant difference.

Joe Friel

Sam--No problem with 8wks of base 2.

Joe Friel

Matt--Generally, it's not great to race seriously in base 1-2. It probably won't replace a workout because in base 1-2 the intensity is 1-3 zones, primarily. So just race and don't be concerned with it.

Joe Friel

Marcus--The more base training the better.

Joe Friel

Oscar--Fixie training is good in base period. I can't speak to your set up and if that is a problem or not. Need to see a bike fitter to answer that.

Joe Friel

Brandy B--A prep period is great if you've been of for a few weeks. The other concern, however, is how much time until your first A race. Need about 23 weeks if following a traditional periodization plan.

Joe Friel

John K--Hard for me to say not knowing anything about you are responding to your training. Need to determine if plateauing or not. If you are then more SST.


Hi Joe...

My season got stopped in sept due to an hamstring injury..tendonitus in my bicepfimurous. I was supposed to start
riding again now but the injury has not gon away yet the specialist recommended I stay off till January.
Now my question is..
1. If I'm able to start in Jan, would you recommend a long Trans period like 6-8 weeks before I start with base. Slowly build up to Base hours?
2. While I'm off now, what cross training would you recommend? Swim or run? Maybe something else??

I'm quite an active cyclist, do bout 900hours a season.


Hi Joe,

My first A race(70 km MTB race) is in the middle of June so I´m only in my prep period at the moment. However my question is if it is better to have a period of 8 weeks Base 3 training (Total 16 weeks Base)then 8 weeks Build 1 or 2 Training (Total 12 weeks Build)? Or is it flexible depending on where your limiters are?


I wonder if you could explain a bit about what you mean by 'plateauing' in your response to John K's question. Is this a WKO+ feature? What metrics would a road cyclist follow - coupling? Power:Heart Rate ratios over time? - to know if he/she were plateauing? Thanks -

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