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Elizabeth Weidling

THANK YOU for this post! I've read in many places if you do work above the anaerobic threshold when you're trying to develop anaerobically it negates the work you're doing - I have not understood this and certainly not understood how to apply it in real life w/ swim/bike/run (esp when you want to get better). So I've been ignoring that notion but not w/o some trepidation - your post was awesome and helpful as always. Thank you!

Elizabeth Weidling

oops - i mean the aerobic threshold ;)


thank you for that. I had a medical potential issue where I was told to avoid high intensity training. I was pretty fit at the time. So I just did the base-type training Z1/Z2/Z3. I was surprised, but it just about maintained my shorter distance performance for about 6 months. maybe i'd neglected the longer stuff previously. after that it went a bit pear shaped. On the all-clear signal it took a LONG time to claw back time towards the glory days :-) - not sure if this observation helps the discussion!!


Thank you for this post. In reading both your and Chapple's book I avoided zone 1 except for recovery and stayed in zone 2 as much as possible during base 1 and 2. The table above shows me I've been doing it all wrong. Thanks again for the heads up on zone 1.


Joe Friel

HLevy--Thanks for your note. Life is full of changes including what goes on between my ears over time.

Joe Friel

The5krunner--It does. Thanks!

Cary Blackburn

Hi Joe
In your book "Fast after 50" you advise doing long (2hr+)Aerobic Threshold rides in Zone 2 (LTHR-30). I'm having trouble reconciling this with the table above which recommends limited time in Zone 2 (circa 6%). Are you basically saying that time spent on the border of Z1 and Z2 is basically just Z1 time?

Joe Friel

Cary Blackburn--First, please realize that the table was not supposed to spell out how you should divide your intensity. For some events a rider may do a 4h AeT ride and another a 1h AeT session. Secondly, when riding at your AeT you'll wind up with some training time in z1 and some in z2.


Can you explain why that chart shows so much of the percentage in zone 1? We're really supposed to be riding that easy a huge majority of the time? And is it OK now to be a Christmas star or whatever you call it that you used to rag on?

Joe Friel

D--There's a significant body of research going back about 10 years showing that training with around 80% of training time below the aerobic threshold produces the best performances (see http://tinyurl.com/kog55ew and search 'polarized' for other such blog posts). I call someone a 'Christmas Star' who trains with an intensity distribution as if it was build 2.


Interesting. So then do you now recommend that the large amount of zone 2 endurance rides you prescribe in your book during the base periods actually be done in zone 1?

Joe Friel

D--Very insightful. Let's just say there should be lots of z1 training. That doesn't rule out aerobic threshold training. That is usually about at the junction of z1 and z2 so a significant portion of that workout should wind up in upper z1.


Hi Joe,
In practice how would this work in the base period? Can you give n example of some workouts that could be done in these periods?


I have been trying to follow Fast After 50 Training plan to train for a 50k run. I can keep my ave. HR in Z1/Z2 but my max HR is always much higher due to hills. Running downhill my HR is often lower that Z1. Is that type of work out still considered Z1/Z2? Thanks

Joe Friel

Barb--Yes, hills make it very difficult sometimes to maintain a low intensity. Just do the best job you can.

Joe Friel

JayKeenor - If you have my Training Bible check out the workout appendices. The "ability" categories for the zones are found as follows: z1-aerobic endurance/recovery, z2-aerobic endurance, z3-muscular endurance/tempo, z4-5a-muscular endurance/threshold, z5b-aerobic capacity, z5c-sprint power.


thanks for these posts to keep all of us current on evolution of training philosophy. I know that the 80/20 approach is widely regarded at this point due to all the supportive studies coming out. I'm having a bit of trouble reconciling this with the workout plan out of Your Best Triathlon. For instance, in the build phase for a half in a given week, how does one have a bike ME workout, run ME work, out, swim ME workout and a ME AE run workout and have all this high intensity work still only amount to 20% of total?

Joe Friel

southernleyte - Good question. It largely comes down to how you determine the high-intensity portion. Some say the entire workout if doing ME is HIT. I count only the time spent doing each individual interval. If doing 40min of total interval training (e.g., 4 x 10min with 2.5 min recoveries) within a 90 minute ride, I would count that as 40 HIT and 50 LIT. Throw in the recovery workouts and the total should come close to something like 80-20. Realize also that the 80-20 ratio is accounted for over a long period of time, such as an entire season, and not necessarily in every individual week. Some weeks will be quite challenging going well over 20% as far as distribution and others will have HIT at less than 10%.

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