Ironman Louisville Training Tips Base Period 1

The time has come to start your Ironman Louisville 24 week training plan!  I have broken this training plan in to a 12 week base period and a 12 week build/taper/race period.  Note: You can use this training program skeleton for any ironman as long as you start 24 weeks out from your race day.  Training weeks should begin on a Monday.  For those of us doing Ironman Louisville, that is today Mach 14th. Funny enough, Mondays are a great rest day…so although your plan begins this week, today should be a day off:) I know…you were so excited to begin training today!  You still can, but you need to find 1 day off per week that you can take off.  Ideally, it will be the same day off each week.  This training plan assumes that you have been doing some prep workouts to get your body ready for the workloads ahead.

At some point in the past 2 weeks you should have completed your prep period testing.  This constituted a 1,000 yard/meter swim for time, a 30 minute bike heart rate test and a 30 minute run heart rate test based on Joe Friel’s heart rate zones that were linked in the previous post.  These will be the zones that you are working from in the Base 1 Period of your training.

Our main focus for the Base 1 Period will be to build a solid aerobic endurance base. Additionally, we will focus some of our workouts on speed skills training and force workouts via weights if this is a limiter for you. Please contact me if you would like to set up a strength training session to get started.  The aerobic workouts that you do in your Base period will lie the foundation for your future build period workouts.  These workouts are essential to Ironman Success.  Here is a description of what aerobic pace should feel like:
this is a pace that you could hold for a long time.  There is a mild sensation of leg effort and fatigue, but it can rise when climbing hills.  You will only have to concentrate to stay at the top of your endurance zone or to finish a long endurance workout.  You should be able to carry on a continuous conversation.  Unless the workout is substantially long, you should be able to recover within a 24 hour time period. Perceived exertion is a 3-4 on a scale of 1-10.

Most of you should be able to do a 3 week period of training with a 1 week long recovery.  This will give you a 4 week training block in Base Period 1.  If you are finding that you can’t train for 3 weeks, than move to a 2 week training with a 1 week recovery giving you a 3 week training block.  Make sure you reduce your training volume on your recovery week.  This is your monthly chance to let your body rebuild itself.  It is also a great opportunity for you to catch up on your social and family life.

Testing for Base Period 1

Testing should be done during your recovery week. The days that the tests should be done are located next to the testing protocol.

Swim – (Thursday) It is time to repeat a 1,000 yard swim time trial.  Hopefully, you have been working on  your technique.  Record your time and this is your new threshold pace.

Bike – (Friday) If you have a power meter, than you can use it for this test.  If not, then a heart rate monitor will work fine.  If you have both…EVEN BETTER!

1.  Easy spin for 10 minutes
2.  Endurance pace for 20 minutes
3.  Easy spin for 5 minutes
4.  5 minutes at threshold pace or effort
5.  Easy spin for 5 minutes
6.  30 minute all out effort.  If you are measuring via power and heart rate, then you will start your power meter at the beginning and your heart rate 10 minutes in.  These numbers will become your functional threshold heart rate and power.  These numbers should change quickly as you become for fit in the coming weeks.  If you are only doing power, than you can do a 20 minute test and take 95% of that number.  However, you need 30 minutes for heart rate.
7.  Cool down and record your information.

Run – (Saturday) You should use a heart rate monitor for this test and if you have a GPS device, than you can use the device to measure pace.

1. Run 20-30 minutes easy to get warmed up
2. Run 30 minutes all out, pacing so that you can finish strong.  Hit your heart rate monitor lap button 10 minutes into the test to record your LT heart rate. If you are also using GPS, than you can start your pace calculation from the beginning.
3. Cool down and record your information.

Here are your Key Workouts for Base Period 1:  If you have a sport which is a limiter, more speed skills/technique sessions might need to be added.


  • 1-2 long aerobic endurance workout lasting at least 45 minutes and no more than 60 minutes per week. If you can gradually build on the time with each week that is best. A good set for these workouts would be a main set at 1500 yards at aerobic pace building up to 1800 yards by week 3.
  •  2 -3 speed skills sessions where you are focusing on technique. You can throw some endurance sets into these workouts… (100 and 200 repeats and endurance pace…).


  • 1 x 2-3 hour ride per week. gradually build on your total time.  this should be done at aerobic heart rate and power. FYI…there is no need to run after these rides yet. 
  • 1 moderate endurance ride per week.  this can be from 60-90 minutes and is a great brick training session. you should run no more than 30 minutes after your bike ride. 

         Week 1: moderate endurance bike 60 minutes/run 30 minutes
         Week 2: moderate endurance bike 75 minutes/run 30 minutes
         Week 3: moderate endurance bike 90 minutes/run 30 minutes        

  • 1-2 speed skills sessions of 45-75 minutes.  focus should be on an efficient pedal stroke. 


  • 1 long run of at least 90 minutes and running up to 2 hours by week 3
  • 1-2 speed skills sessions working on running form (short distance strides). 
  • Brick – a short 30 minute run after your moderate endurance ride.
  • It is not really necessary to do a brick after your long ride yet.  Actually, your long ride brick runs during your build period will be very short to prevent injury and over training.


If you find that you need more specific coaching, please email me at for detailed workouts.  Remember, this is only a guide to get you through the daunting task of getting organized in your ironman training!