Repeat base/build vs extended

Hi all, thought I’d throw a quick question out there to hear everyone’s thoughts.

This question is in relation to Ironman distance triathlon.

If I had 30ish weeks to my next event would it be better to:

  1. Do an extended base block then extended build block or…
  2. …repeat two shorter base/builds?

Or is it neither here nor there?

My main questions with this are:

  • Do extended blocks provide greater adaptations?
  • Is an extended build block likely to cause too much fatigue and likelihood of injury?

My first thoughts would be extend the base.

Do you feel you are currently improving where you are on the plan at the moment? Is motivation strong?

Whether the order of things matter has been asked very often with regards to about anything. There doesn’t seem to be a very clear answer to this and similar questions.

As ‘volume is key’, I would maximize volume and then start replacing more and more low intensity with high-intensity within that maximum volume. (instead of break your head about periodisation)


I am currently in a bit of a reset. I took this for fatigue and motivation reasons. So I’d say there has been minimal improvement recently. The step back has been good because I am now ready to go again

Thanks for the response. I agree with your take on volume but I’m not sure managing that over a 30 weeks period would be any different than trying to properly periodise the training?

Given your comment about your ‘reset’ and the long time until your event, I think the above idea about max volume is a good one. It might also be worth reflecting on why you needed that reset recently - what have the last few months been like and what might have led you to feeling that need?

Not sure where in the world you are and current climate, but if N hemisphere you’re probably coming into the best weather for a few months. I’d be inclined to get out and enjoy it and ride (run/swim) as much as possible, without too much worry about structure and targets, and just max out your ‘base’ volume for the coming months - lots of naturally happening z2 and z3 plus hills etc, social and group rides etc. I think this might be useful as part of your motivation build as well.

Once you approach worse weather, and time outside (or enjoyment of time outside) starts to drop, then it is probably time to restart a more structured ‘Build’ approach and introduce more intensity as overall volume falls.

Given your goal is ironman distance I don’t think you can have ‘too much base’ but its easy to do too much intensity. I’d enjoy as much time as possible ‘just doing as much as you enjoy and can do’ and do it for as long as you can. Of course, if you’re climate is different then YMMV and you might have to turn this on its head a little :laughing:

I appreciate the response but you are right I may have to turn it on its head a bit because I am actually in the southern hemisphere. I needed to step back a little and reset because I had a massive 6 month lead up to my last ironman, after finishing I gave myself minimal recovery time and tried to maintain the rage.

Been there…done that… :laughing:

My big question then, is how do you do some ‘work’ but do it in a way you enjoy and wont lead to a repeat any time soon? There could be many answers to that but a couple of things that have helped me are:

  1. limit time/sessions doing work over ‘low tempo’ - just seems to be that this idea of being <LT1, or however you want to think about it, creates so much less stress - in terms of fatigue, stress about getting on the bike etc. Its also a fairly fun place to train and is also hard enough that shorter 90min indoor rides are still worthwhile IMHO

  2. maximise days when weather allows you to be outside - whatever that looks like?

  3. dont set up a detailed structured plan for 30 weeks - that just becomes a straightjacket and robs you of desire and fun/motivation. Focus on another metric each week like ‘days doing something’ and take the pressure off, at least in the shortr term. Base…build…base…build just sounds like a plan for more burnout.

Probably loads of creative ways to achieve this in a way that fits your life and personality and limitations. Have fun.

Hank- among all the other comments and suggestions which are valid one way to look at these 30 weeks to to really back into the demands of your event. My expertise is just cycling but from a training and physiology perspective there are the same across all endurance sports. I might suggest the idea of doing a build first, focusing on your BIG robust aerbic engine (tempo, sweet spot ) intebsity and perhaps even mixing in some VO2 work at the right time, then focus on your volume in the last training block leading into the event. Another approach worth considering. I have used the approach for some ultra distance cycling athletes to much success. Events that are 150 miles to 24hrs.



I listened to a podcast with Jonathon Brownlee. One of the things he said about his training was that he had to believe in what he was being asked to do. He had to trust in it, to stay motivated. If he was motivated he found training easy. Thus whatever you decide make sure you believe in it and are motivated.

One of things I’ve skimped on in recent years is base, rushing through it to get to build. But we are repeatedly told the wider the base, the higher the peak of your fitness. This time I decided to put some faith in that statement. I just finished 4.5 months of base at Easter. Best decision I ever made. It’s done wonders you wouldn’t think possible. But they took time to arrive, I didn’t perceive much changing for the the first two months. It had to trust in base building to remain motivated that I was doing the right thing. Particularly when I saw friends targeting the same main event in August already jumping on their turbos back in December.


I think more of us can benefit from tuning into how we feel rather than just looking at numbers.

There is the fatigue you get from a hard session or series of hard sessions. That fatigue, say heavy legs, that passes with a few easier or rest days. Then there’s a residual fatigue that inhabits your whole psyche and can linger, the sort that if you let it build, leads to non functional over reaching, lack of motivation to train or even get on your bike, and eventually over training.

Sometimes it is hard to remember how long you’ve had a feeling of the latter type of fatigue. I now make notes about how my sessions went and how I’m feeling. I’ve found it invaluable aid spotting negative trends and knowing when to back off or take a few days or weeks recovery. Have a plan but know when to leave it, due to the way you are feeling.


I do ultra distance cycling events where durability is key. Like iron man, good fat oxidation is also key to a good performance over such durations. Thus I would suggest an extended base extending volume and limiting intensity would be a good start. Then re introduce intensity closer to your event. I’m certainly seeing the benefits of this approach this year. The durability is certainly showing as I do my low cadence big gear work as part of my build. I’m sure my legs wouldn’t have handled it without all the base work.


I’m not a coach like the others above. I’m just a keen amateur who’s not afraid to change how I train based on the latest advice and evidence I see. What I do know, is that if I do what I’ve always done I’ll likely always have a similar fitness peak each year. But to make a change it takes faith, which leads back to motivation, plus also your appetite for risk.


Thank you for the useful information. I guess you can summarise it as - don’t make it a job! Otherwise you are exactly right, it is just a plan for another burnout

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Thanks @Fpike, that’s a good suggestion, I’ll have a bit of a look into some more stuff on that kind of approach. Thanks.

Coach or not, you have raised some valid points, especially about trending fatigue levels so you can pick it up early. Thanks for your input