The base phase is what happens in the time between racing and recovering for triathlons. Whether that’s winter or summer, base phase training matters for triathletes and as a rule of thumb, a 12-week base phase is ideal.
This is a time to “train to train.” You are literally building a foundation, so you are able to move to the next level in pace, intensity and mileage when you begin your race specific training. Then you will be able to (hopefully) improve by a good percentage in your next race.
How to perform base training
The base phase includes aerobic endurance, strength training and endurance building. You should start the first few weeks (weeks 1-4) by building your aerobic endurance by doing easy aerobic workouts; improve your technique by doing swim, run and bike drills and make sure you are using correct form in each; and do triathlon specific strength training workouts.
The next few weeks (weeks 5-8) start building your muscular endurance by doing interval workouts at an intensity of 90-95% of your threshold (heart rate or pace). Then transfer that strength to your swim, bike and run with maximum force and efforts. Do swim sprints, bike in high gear and run hill sprints. Continue with aerobic endurance and technique by increasing the length of your aerobic workouts and cut back on your strength training.
In the last few weeks (weeks 9-12), decrease aerobic endurance and strength training even more and keep these in the maintenance mode. Increase your muscular endurance intervals to make it more challenging (15-30 minutes of 5-8 minute intervals at maximum threshold with short recovery intervals).
Why do I need a base?
It doesn’t matter if you are already athletic or not, new triathletes and seasoned triathletes should all be doing base phase training. Triathlons are very strenuous on your body and without a proper base you will end up injured or over-trained if you skip it. By building your base and slowly working the harder training and workouts, you will most likely avoid injuries.
Base training is an important aspect of triathlon training. You could build an entire training program using only the methods in base training workouts and see better results than most other training systems. Contact me if you need help getting started with base phase training.