Unpacking the Gospel of Joe Friel’s New “Training Bible”

We talk with Joe Friel about the newest edition of his bestselling cycling training book The Cyclist's Training Bible. We touched on everything from periodization to energy systems, to Joe’s method of research…which believe it or not, has a lot to do with hundreds of 3”x5” note cards.

Joe Friel Fast Talk Podcast Cyclists Training Bible

Cycling can be a fickle sport. Coaches come and go; new, exciting, revolutionary ways of training take the sport by storm then grown stale; riders at the local training race who were once unbeatable age and fade from the front. Few things have permanence in this sport.

But there’s been one thing that has stood the test of time, that seems to have been there since most of us attempted our first interval workout: Joe Friel’s The Cyclist’s Training Bible. For many of us, reading that book was our first step towards more dedicated training.

This spring Joe released his fifth, and hopefully not the last, edition of the book. Trevor and I had a chance to talk with Joe about the newest edition. We came to the interview with a list of questions that we felt only touched on the key parts of the book and by the hour mark we were barely a quarter of the way through our list. But what we did talk about was really compelling stuff. We touched on everything from periodization to energy systems, to Joe’s method of research…believe it or not, it has a lot to do with hundreds of 3”x5” note cards.

What is the central theme of this podcast? Perhaps we’ll just call it picking the brain of one of the most experienced cycling coaches in the world. Our varied topics included:

  • How Joe’s philosophy to coaching has changed over the five editions of the book, and why with this most recent edition he decided to completely rewrite the book.
  • How new technology has changed coaching and why Joe recommends a shift from volume-focused training to a training-stress focus
  • What we mean by intensity and how both polarized and sweet spot training play in
  • The three physiological assets that determine our level as cyclists — specifically aerobic capacity or VO2max, anaerobic threshold, and economy
  • And finally, we touch on periodization. Joe was the one who brought periodization to cycling and unfortunately, we were barely able to scratch the surface on this fascinating subject. Hopefully, we can convince Joe to come back for an entire episode on the topic…

(In fact, there is plenty in the book we don’t even mention, but there’s a reason it’s called the Training Bible.)

In addition to Joe Friel, our guests include:

Frank Overton, the owner of FastCat coaching. Frank has been a part of the history of cycling himself, helping in the early days when they were just figuring out the power-based metrics we now take for granted. But even Frank remembers The Cyclist’s Training Bible influencing him as a cat. 4 cyclist.

And we talked with LottoNL-Jumbo rider Sepp Kuss who gives a very modern pro perspective on periodization. It’s not the old school traditional periodization of a dedicated base period and race phase. We, unfortunately, ran out of time to talk with Joe about it, but one of the big changes in the latest edition of the book is an entire chapter on the various periodization alternatives.

Let’s make you fast.

Primary Guests
Joe Friel: Legendary endurance coach

Episode Transcript



Welcome to fast off the velonews podcast everything you need to know to write.


Chris Case  00:11

Hello and welcome to Fast Talk. I’m Chris case managing editor of velonews joined by the apostle of speed Coach Trevor Connor. Cycling can be a fickle sport coaches come and go. new exciting revolutionary ways of training take the sport by storm than grow stale riders at the local training race who were once unbeatable age and fade from the front. Few things have permanence in this sport. But there’s been one thing that has stood the test of time that seems to have been there since most of us attempted our first interval workout. And that is Joe freels cyclists training Bible. For many of us reading that book was our first step towards more dedicated training. This spring, Joe released his fifth and hopefully not the last edition of the book, Trevor and I had a chance to talk with Joe about the latest edition, we came to the interview with a list of questions that we felt only touched on the key parts of the book. by the hour mark, we were barely a quarter of the way through our list. But what we did talk about was really compelling stuff, touched on everything from periodization, to energy system to Joe’s method of research. Believe it or not, it has a lot to do with hundreds of three by five note cards. More on that later in the show. What is the central theme of this podcast? Perhaps we’ll just call it picking the brain of one of the most experienced cycling coaches in the world are very topics included, how Joe’s philosophy to coaching has changed over the five editions of the book, and why with this most recent edition, he decided to completely rewrite the book, how new technology has changed coaching and why Joe recommends a shift from volume focused training to a training stress focus. What we mean by intensity and how both polarized and sweetspot training play in the three physiological assets that determine our level as cyclists, specifically aerobic capacity or vo to Max, anaerobic threshold and economy. And finally, we touch on periodisation. Joe is the one who brought period ization to cycling and unfortunately, we were barely able to scratch the surface on this fascinating subject. Hopefully we can convince Joe to come back for an entire episode on the topic. In fact, there is plenty in the book we don’t even mention, but there’s a reason it’s called the training Bible. In addition to Joe Friel. Our guests today include Frank Overton, the owner of fast cat coaching in Boulder, Colorado. Frank has been a part of the history of cycling himself helping in the early days, when they were just figuring out the power base metrics we now take for granted. Even Frank remembers the cyclist training Bible influencing him as a cat for cyclist. Yeah, right. Frank was never a cat four he was born a cat one. And we talked with lotto nl Jambo Ryder, Sep coos who gives a very modern pro perspective on periodisation. It’s not the old school traditional periodization of a dedicated base period, and raceface. Unfortunately, we ran out of time to talk with Joe more about this subject. But one of the big changes in the latest edition of the book is an entire chapter on the various periodization alternatives. Please forgive the quality of coach Connors audio for this podcast. We recorded the podcast the day before he raced at Canadian nationals. He was up in northern Quebec, the internet connection wasn’t great, nor was Trevor’s stress level. So with a power vested in me, let’s make the fast. This episode of fast Talk is brought to you by normatec. dial in the most advanced recovery for your body with number Tech’s patented compression massage technology. writers like Taylor Finney, Tom spoons, and the BMC racing team all rely on Norma tech to get them through the daily grind a professional cycling normatec increases circulation rejuvenates muscles and reduces soreness so you can train harder and race faster. Stop by the normatec 10 at the Colorado classic to try for yourself and feel what everybody is talking about.


Chris Case  04:15

If you could give us a brief introduction to yourself and maybe even highlights of the first book and then number of additions and things like that. That’d be great. Sure.



Okay. I


Joe Friel  04:28

i’ve been coaching since about 1980. And, gosh, as far as books are concerned, I wrote the first one in for cyclist training Bible. This is the first book I ever wrote. I wrote that about 1996. I’ve written a total of 16 books, which I take the last book I’ve written you know the cyclist training Bible edition number five as the 16th book, because it’s not the same as it’s not just a rewrite the first book it’s completely new book. So it’s been a it’s been a busy 22 years or so a variety. You know, I don’t know what else to tell you besides that,


Chris Case  05:09

until actively coaching.


Joe Friel  05:10

No, I quit coaching A few years ago, I had gotten to the point I realized that I never really had a real vacation since 1980. Because every time I go on vacation, we don’t like clients. When on vacation, they were still training. I’ve still I was still coaching. Still people in the back of my mind, what what are they doing? How’s their workouts going? checking things daily, online, all that kind of stuff. And so finally, I say, you know, maybe, maybe it’s time to, to hang it up. So quit coaching. And now all I do really is I coach coaches, and do some writing. It’s been kind of fun, actually. As opposed to being always on, you know, always on, always ready to deal with an athlete’s turning issues. And so it’s been it’s been kind of nice.


Trevor Connor  05:55

Ya know, you’re never off the clock when you’re a coach.


Joe Friel  05:58

No, you’re never done. It goes all day long. 24. Seven?


Trevor Connor  06:02

Yep. No, I’ve had athletes I had a couple times athletes send me an email at midnight on a Friday, ask them what they should do for their their 8am ride on a Saturday, and they’re upset. I didn’t get back to them.


Joe Friel  06:12

Yeah. I recall this days.


Trevor Connor  06:15

You said right at the start of the book, that this is essentially a complete rewrite of the book. So I think that’s a great place to start of why rewrite it. I mean, this is this book is, as the title says, really, the the Bible of cycling training, it’s been around for a long time, it’s well established, everybody’s heard of it. What motivated you to rewrite?


Joe Friel  06:39

Well, I had done edits on it three times on the original book, over the years, over many, many years. So my publisher was suggesting I forgot when this was probably about 2015, or 16, perhaps it was that I should consider doing another edit or revision of the original book, or at least of the, of the fourth edition. And I realized that each time I had done that the previous three times, it got harder each time because if you make a change in chapter two, that’s got down downstream considerations, there’s things in chapters five, nine and 12 have to be changed to accommodate the change you made in chapter two. And those have other ramifications on things that that affect them. And it just became this gigantic, is becoming more difficult every time I did it. And I can see it with the number of things I wanted to change, that it was going to be a gigantic project to try to edit it much easier. Just throw the entire manuscript away and start from scratch. So I finally decided to do that. And I think I kept the same was the table of contents. I made small changes to it. But otherwise, I just threw away the book to start with the blank sheet of paper and started writing.


Trevor Connor  07:56

Well, we certainly should point out I mean, when you wrote the first book, nobody was on power meters, people are just starting to pick up heart rate monitors, there wasn’t training peaks, there wasn’t who most people were recording their workouts on a sheet of paper. So it seems like that had to have a big impact as well, that there there’s technology now that just wasn’t available in the First Division.


Joe Friel  08:16

Yeah, that’s for sure. From the first one, I wrote the first book, I had borrowed a power meter from SRM back in like about 95, I think it was they loaned me one for summer for three months to try it out, because I couldn’t afford to buy one. And so when I wrote the book, I could see this thing is going to have value in the future. So I had like, I forgotten a page, and then the entire book on power. That was it. There was like one page on power. And I mentioned it in the in the epilogue that I thought it was going to be significant someday. And that by the way is which led was what led to power tap that sentence, I wrote that they kind of caught their attention, some people’s attention, or recyclates. And engineers, and they decided to come up with something that would contribute to the sport. So they came up with this power tap idea. And it came out that sentence, I wrote the book, I thought it was going to be valuable in the future. And lo and behold, it has it’s just revolutionizes the way Cycling is done, which I’m sure we’ll get into later on. So I’m not gonna deal with that. Now. The fact that was the reason I made the change or decided to rewrite the book is because there was just so much stuff. And a big part of this was technology. And I just couldn’t go back and just keep putting band aids on things I’d said about technology starting in 1996. That wasn’t gonna work. It was just too significant of change. In fact, it changed dramatically since they since the fourth edition came out, which is just a few years before the most recent one. And so if you know I just saw the need to change the entire book by because of things like that. And that wasn’t the only thing there was. There was all kinds of stuff going on changes taking place that needed to be done. dressed. So that’s how it came came to be was the fifth edition.


Trevor Connor  10:04

So something I have really wanted to ask you about. And give me a minute because this is going to take me a little bit to explain. But I can tell you my own history as a cyclist, I started getting into it in the 90s. And I remember, I basically was doing everything wrong. And a friend told me about this whole idea of, you know, you should change what you’re doing at what point in the season, you should have harder weeks easier weeks, and I thought he was crazy. Why wouldn’t you just train hard all the time. And he told me about you. And this was first edition of the book. And and, you know, I’ll say I mean, it really revolutionized cycling, because you were the one who brought pure the whole concept of periodization to cycling. But something I have always found really interesting. And again, so give me just one minute to explain this. The two books that I read to start out with were the your book, the first edition, and then jack daniels running for sure. And something that I used to love to point out to some of my athletes about kind of differences of approaches in and I apologize, I’m up and back, I wish I had brought them with me. So I could give the exact quotes. But there was a page in your first edition that said, pretty close to the most important thing is to have a training plan and a coach. And then there was a page in jack daniels book that said the least important thing to have is a training plan. And he goes on to explain that same The reason being is half the plans and half the coaches out there are worse than no plan at all. And I always kind of love that contrast of their you know, even with the some of the best coaches out there, there’s kind of difference of approaches difference of opinions, but I did notice in this edition, and where you said that was very early in the first edition, this one, you started out much more talking about principles talking about mindset. And I absolutely loved I got to page 90 in the book and you wrote a rigidly followed plan. And that doesn’t allow for breaks from training when you are overly tired, and doesn’t consider the many other lifestyle demands of your time is worse than no plan at all. And so, you know, I can’t do that anymore. But these books side by side and say look at the contrast here. But I did you know that was something that I always remembered about the first book and it was something that as I was reading this I really want to ask you about is it was I completely misinterpreting the first book, or is this that you evolved?


Joe Friel  12:34

I think I think that’s one of the nuances I was talking about earlier that, you know, as I as I grew as a coach, I and when I say cruiser kosha that I came in contact with more athletes, as I became more aware of what they were doing. It was obvious people were doing things, you know, they’d read my book, and they’d come up with a plan. But they came up with such a ridiculously difficult, unrealistic plan, that it was like having, it was worse than no plan at all. And I’ve seen that happen so many times. That’s kind of where that came from. It’s just being around a lot more athletes for another 20 years. And seeing the same things over and over and over and over from people that they kept making the same mistakes. And so that that’s basically how the thought you just described that that passage came to be.


Trevor Connor  13:28

So it is that that recognition, you do have to be careful with these plans and and really know what you’re doing to have an effect. I find that fascinating because we’ve been one of the things I love about this This podcast is we get coaches and physiologists on the show who are far more experienced, far smarter than me. And you get this opportunity to kind of see how they view things and how they approach things. And that does seem to be a common theme that planning is not sufficient. You have to be able to read yourself, you have to be able to day to day know how to adjust. And that’s potentially some of the biggest secrets of training. And it seems like that was one of the the big themes in this new book of when you were talking about the not the mindset of having a purpose to every ride and knowing when to adjust your rides.


Joe Friel  14:19

Right. Yeah, that I the book still follows much as what I talked about in the first book, you know, participation plans, for example, as you mentioned, and coming up with a plan that gives direction to your training. But then later in the book I talk about, I actually kind of throw in a curveball there, based on what we just talked about. And that was discussion about recovery versus adaptation. In that they’re not the same thing. And that’s sometimes it’s better for an athlete to be very open ended about their about the recovery process which now being taken to mean to include a deputation Sometimes plans don’t do that sometimes athletes don’t know how they’re going to feel when they get to a certain point in the season. They just haven’t experienced what they’re planning to do. And when they get there, they discover the load is much greater than they thought it was going to be. Now, what do they do? Do they continue on to the press ahead with the same plan? Or do they make changes to it because of what they’re experiencing. And my point in this in that later chapter, where I talk about recovered adaptation is that the most important things are that patient is not recovering the most important things a deputation that’s the reason why we train is to adapt. If you didn’t adapt what the hell would be the reason for going out there doing workouts, and to express to explain that, for example, the difference between a recovered adaptation, there’s lots of research showing that hot and cold alternating versions for bas, speed up recovery, there’s not a single research study that shows it speeds up adaptations. So you may feel like you’re recovered, because you’ve done certain things you’ve used when you got a massage, or you’ve done all these things that we all know about. But that doesn’t mean you’re adapted your body. We don’t know right now, we don’t know of any way to speed up the adaptive process. It’s a biological phenomenon, which, which is really beyond what we know about sports science right now. But it’s at the heart of what we’re talking about here. And so the issue is that you’ve got to be able to differentiate these two terms, recovering it adaptation, and not be focused just on recovery, but also realize you’ve got to give your body a chance to, to adapt. And so what does that mean? Well, that means, especially sleep, which is when hormones kick in, and the body actually goes through the process of becoming stronger, if you will. And so even though I’ve talked about having a plan, I’m now toward the end of both talking about how you’ve got to be ready to deviate from that plan, because of the need to, to adapt, as opposed to simply recover. So I tried to, you know, I tried to sneak that in toward the end, because I wanted to push the athlete reader to understand that all these other things are important. But this now becomes one of the most important things you have to also give consideration to how are you adapting?


Trevor Connor  17:12

So I actually wrote an article a couple years ago on recovery modalities, I think it’s probably the most boring article I ever wrote. Because you look at the most recent research and really where they seem to be heading is the the things that make you feel better like ice baths and ibuprofen. And a lot of these things people use to recover. They block the inflammation, which is what causes pain, so you feel better, but we actually need that inflammation for the adaptation. So they show that you know, icing and these things can actually slow down the adaptation process, right. And basically, the the gist of my whole article was, get out of your body’s way, let it sit, let it do its thing.


Joe Friel  17:50

Yeah, you really can’t You can’t rush a deputation. It’s got a process it has to go through, we can screw it up more easily than we can can we can rush it. So it’s a huge challenge right now. It’s really on the on the cutting edge, I would say of sport sciences, was the deputation all about? And, you know, how can we make sure we’re doing it correctly? That’s, that’s on the leading edge of where we are right now. And I by no means have the answer to that question. I’m just posing another issue for the athlete to consider that adaptation is every bit as important as recovery as in fact much more so. And it’s the reason we do all this training. Your and your point is well taken that ibuprofen and even even vitamins have been shown to, to screw up the adaptive process. And so we sometimes get in our own way, by doing things like that, because we think it’s gonna be good for us, it has just the opposite effect on us.


Chris Case  18:44

Is that is that why the fact that this is there’s a lot of unknowns here about adaptation is at an emerging component to training is that why it ended up so far back in the book, it sounds like you’re well aware of its importance to the overall process of training. But it sounds like you know, you use the words Nick snuck it in at the end it sounds that contradicts itself a little bit.


Joe Friel  19:09

Yes. I snuck it in because I, I really can’t give answers. I can only ask questions when it comes to that that issue, and rather confused people during the process of how do you decide which preposition plan is best for you, which is when a chapter early in the book is all about and muddy the waters within that chapter, I decided to hold on to too late in the book where I could discuss it as a topic of its own within the context of the of the Table of Contents I created back in 1996. And so that’s how it got there. It would have been confusing, I think to put it in right in with all the other stuff on periodisation. But at some point, the issue needs to be raised.


Trevor Connor  19:54

I still remember the year I decided to get serious about my cycling, my symbolic first step was spending my vacations sitting by my grandmother’s swimming pool reading the cyclist training Bible. Nowadays I’m an old man of cycling. Chris may even call me antic witness. But it was young, inexperienced rider back then. For even those of us who’ve seen they’ve been around for a while, we were guided by pioneers like Joe Frank Overton, the founder of fast cat coaching, who has been a part of the cycling scene for a long time has a similar story of Joe Friel influencing him from the very beginning.



I moved to Colorado in 1997. And in the fall, and I did I like a month or two later, I heard about this thing called the fellows swap. And I went down there with like, $75 in my pocket, and I came away with a used cyclist training Bible and a pair of kreidler rollers. And that book was, at the time, one of the only sources for endurance training out there, I wasn’t a coach at a time. At the time, I didn’t even know I was going to become a coach, I believe I was a cat four road racer, and like a, what was then called a sport class or expert class mountain biker. So I was just a kid in a candy shop and I read that book, it was kind of complicated to me, I didn’t quite get all of it, but I gathered what I could from it and set apart set about, you know, my training and my quest to get faster. Once I became a coach, a few years later, back then Joe and his wife used to offer coaching, coaching seminars, coaching business seminars, and I took one for them as a weekend course on a Saturday, Sunday here in Boulder, the Millennium hotel, they went through all sorts of things of how to run a successful coaching business, and the coaching industry was just fledgling, there weren’t that many people doing it. And there was a lot of information out there that we didn’t know that Joe had figured out, and that’s what this seminar was. So that was my first, you know, face to face interaction with with Joe. And then the training peaks thing, he and dirt launched, founded training peaks. And we, you know, we use training peaks To this day, and it’s wonderful. And last summer, at the training peaks endurance coaching summit show gave the keynote address that was wonderful as 20 to 30 minutes, and he, you know, told his story from running shop retailer to, you know, forming a community and he kind of just, you know, told us the way that he fell into coaching, it was never planned and the way that he marketed himself and got his name out there. And just the evolution of that, he said, he quickly discovered he liked talking about run training, more than he likes selling shoes, and that he just said, you know, just told the wonderful story of how he transitioned from a running store retailer into the coaching business and in his journey since then. So that’s, that’s my interaction with Joe freely. I think he’s kind of the the godfather of the coaching industry. We’ve all written the waves, you know, kind of come up underneath.


Trevor Connor  23:28

So what do you feel his his big impact was



putting it out there? First and foremost, I mean, he didn’t have to do that. He just put out all his knowledge, like competitive intelligence to all all the other coaches. And so I think that’s a major contribution. Lau is just perusing his blog before we we came on here. And you know, he’s writing about some really complicated subjects, and people will write to him and he’ll he’ll publish, you know what they were asking about, and you just don’t get that from? COACH has been doing it a couple years.


Trevor Connor  24:01

Let’s get back to the show.


Chris Case  24:03

All right. Well, let’s, let’s shift gears a little bit and talk about some of the specifics of your approach, maybe some of even your biases in the the training philosophies that you’re showing in the book. Trevor, did you want to start things off by talking about his use of TSS and intensity centric training?


Trevor Connor  24:23

Yeah, so it seems like in the book, one of your major themes is that we need to shift away from this very old school viewpoint of training is all about duration. The more you The more time you spend on the bike, the fitter you’re going to get, and really towards this intensity centric centric training. I was really interested in what you mean by that, and what exactly you mean by intensity, and how you use that for training? Yeah, when


Joe Friel  24:48

the book came out, back in the 90s, I think the most common way athletes decided how to train was to look to see what your European professionals were doing. They were basically putting in a lot of time on the saddle. And so that became kind of the nexus of how to train in this country was just a lot of settle time. I’ve never fully accepted that I should back up one step or the certainly is value to turning volume duration, you can’t just train two hours a week and expect to be able to do well. And in races, there’s some volume required at some level. But there’s a point at which it becomes simply a burden, as opposed to something which actually improves performance. And I’m afraid too many athletes, just that don’t realize that they always see the solution to their cheating, their goal is to simply do more time, more hours, more miles more kilometers. The research doesn’t support that. If you look at research and this, there’s been all kinds of studies on this, where they’ll have one group who basically does tremendous duration at low intensity, another grip group who does modern duration at a high intensity. And as long as we’re talking about advanced athletes, not novices, a high end testing group always produces the best performances. So it’s kind of like a given it’s not like it’s, it’s anything here to be debated. We’ve got this has been resolved for a long, long time goes back to the 1980s with studies on this topic. And so consequently, the issue is getting the balance between duration and intensity. Correct. And that’s why I introduced the concept of attorney stress score TSS book, which is something we’ve been using turning peaks when I say we, since early 2000s, mid 2000s. That began to open my eyes to how we can actually put a number on on intensity. It’s, you know, if you, if you ask any athlete, how’s your training going? The way they’ll answer that question is with volume. Well, they will still say, Well, last year, at this time, I was doing 15 hours a week on the bike. And now I’m doing 17 hours a week on the bike implication being I’m more fit now because I’m doing more hours. But that doesn’t necessarily mean more fit, it’s just more hours is more hours. So it is. So it’s very easy to express duration. It’s not easy at all to express intensity. So ask the athlete, well, how is your destiny about the season, they can’t tell you that there’s that’s a no way that you express it. It’s a it’s obviously something they understand. But they can’t give you a number, they can’t say 17 hours a week, they just can’t, they can tell you about a workout they did what they did in that workout and how compared with a year ago, it’s the same workout, but they can’t explain intensity to you. And so this is where this TSS concept comes in, is based on this thing called intensity factor. Part of it is anyway, based in part on intensity factor and test the factors the derivative of one’s normalized power divided by their FTP. But intensity is simply how much power Did you produce relative to your FTP? And so you’ve got to get your FTP, right, which is always a starting place. And that thing gives you this way of expressing what’s the real measure of improvement is, which is training stress score, as opposed to simply how many hours did you put on the saddle. So that’s that’s the thinking that’s going on here. And that that wasn’t expressed at all back in the early portion of the book, The early the first edition, and no expression of that whatsoever. There was talk about intensity, but it was kept as a separate items duration. They weren’t seen as being ever meshed together into one into one number, for example. So what’s happened is cycling has gone dating back to now the 1990s gone from be perhaps the worst sport, the worst endurance sport in the world, in terms of science, to be the best sport in the world in terms of science. Back in 1990s, the leader was swimming. Why because they measured lactate in the pool. And they took blood samples by pricking the athletes finger or ear lobe. And then looking at how much lactate was in the blood and draw conclusions about what the intensity of the workout was, and so forth. That was the pinnacle Cycling is still talking about how many hours you put in the saddle. That was science as far as Cycling is concerned. Swimming adopted the whole periodized training


Trevor Connor  29:06

concept long before cycling did.


Joe Friel  29:08

Yeah, it is swimming has been a world leader and all this stuff. But now quite honestly, because of the lack of measurement devices, such as power meters of cyclists, and they’re really falling away on the well behind the other sports but cycling has become really the the sport that we need to all sports need to be measuring themselves against right now maybe it’s only because of the power meter. And it’s only because of one person coming along Andy Coggan and saying you know, these are some things we ought to think about in terms of how to use a power meter. And he’s been he’s revolutionize cycling which is revolutionizing the world of China we now talk about things in for example in running swimming that we never talked about before until we talked about them common talked about the first in in cycling. So the whole thing is evolving but now cycling is leading the way is cool thing I think about this entire topic,


Trevor Connor  30:04

one of the geniuses that Dr. Coggan brought to the cycling world was power meter was a great tool. But it was an external measure, it really didn’t show what was going on physiologically. Sure. And with TSS, he found a way to take this external measure. And to show what’s going on inside the body to translate it using FTP is kind of a Rosetta Stone. That translated here’s what’s going on inside you. And then that’s it. That’s the TSS as you said, it’s based on your your FTP and burden of our listeners who don’t know that the simple explanation as it takes each zone, and has a multiplier, and then you add it all together. So an hour at zone one might produce the same amount or even less to TSS than just a couple minutes at your highest zone. Right?



That’s true.


Chris Case  30:54

How has the, the algorithm behind TSS has that changed over time as you learn more about the science behind it, or just worked with the sort of the details of the software itself?


Joe Friel  31:09

No, it really hasn’t, the concept has remained the same. It’s without getting into this, the, the sports science behind it is basically highest power output an athlete can maintain for roughly an hour. And when I say that, that’s where it starts getting real muddy. Yep, because it really isn’t that definition. But that’s, that’s the way everybody can kind of understand what we’re talking about here. When you start getting into the maximum lactate steady state stuff, it starts getting real hairy with the science. And it’s just easier to keep it simple. For right now, that


Trevor Connor  31:40

is roughly how long an athlete or the power athlete can can put out for roughly an hour that it gives it is a crude definition. Chris was actually asking one of the things that we are both really interested in and I might be completely off base here. But as I remember, when Dr. Coggan was originally coming up with a lot of these concepts, he was he was working with you other people who were really interested in the sweet spot concept. And I noticed that in the book, you have a great summary of the polarized Pro. So you know, Tyler’s concept of the three zones based on your aerobic threshold and your anaerobic threshold. And it seems like you’re a big proponent of the polarized approach. And I have heard from physiology, so you know, eight, nine years ago, talking to a few physiologists in the field, the one criticism they had a TSS was they felt it was very sweetspot bias that you got the highest scores by just writing sub threshold. And it does, and maybe I’m just imagining this, but it does seem like it’s changed where now it’s a little more biased towards the polarized, where you get a much higher TSS score from that higher intensity work with that,


Joe Friel  32:52

I think is I think when you when you get into this topic, now we’re starting to get into deviations on how to how to train. And TSS becomes kind of the crux of that discussion. Because obviously, different ways you can achieve a certain TSS score. But yeah, it’s true. Somebody focuses on sweet spot, that in a way kind of negates polarized training. And yet, I’m not sure that really has to happen that way. In a way these are these are contradictory. sweetspot implies staying at a point, which is, you know, somewhat below the FTP or which is roughly the equivalent anaerobic threshold or lactate threshold for long periods of time. Whereas polarized learning implies that you spend a great deal of time at very low intensities below the aerobic threshold, and then get in a smaller and work portion time 20%, roughly at above the lactate or anaerobic threshold. So there’s some discussion going on, you’re still within the sport about how to do this. And I’m quite honestly not tried to be too precise about this, although in the book, I tried to be a lot, I suppose a little bit more precise. And I am in reality, you know, I kind of apply I kind of use it both ways. I think an athlete needs to get a lot of training for roughly the 80% concept below their Roby fat or below their aerobic threshold. And I say at because I have athletes, I would have athletes do a lot of turning at their aerobic threshold. But I also employ using sweet spot at certain times in the season for athletes. And other times they’re doing things well above the the threshold or the FTP. So I don’t think it’s carved in stone that you’re going to do the same at 20 relative to thresholds, aerobic and anaerobic throughout the year, it’s going to be divided over the course of seasons periodisation or sometimes you’re doing at 20 but other times you’re doing 9010 or you’re doing you know 7030 or something like that because You’re getting ready for a certain event. And certainly the event is the reason we train. We don’t just train to achieve numbers, we train to achieve outcomes and races. And so sometimes it’s important to train in a way that that meets the demands of the event. And that’s not always going to be at 20. So I’m a little bit of a heretic when it comes to the 8020. But I believe the concept is really solid. You really can’t argue that dividing, churning with a great deal at low intensity and as much smaller amount of high intensity is beneficial because there’s been so much research that supports this. So that’s kind of where how I hedge my bets on this thing when it comes to reality.


Trevor Connor  35:40

I think that’s a really important distinction is when you say in the book that you’re shifting from a duration centric to intensity centric training, you’re not saying you should be doing intensity all the time, which is becoming popular with a lot of cyclists right now. You’re sitting here talking about monitoring your intensity. So intensity you’re referring to, you have low intensity rides, you have high intensity rides, and you haven’t talked in the book about got to be really careful about high intensity, how much of it you do the time of the year you do it, and you can get yourself in trouble if you do too much. That’s true.


Joe Friel  36:13

Yeah, agreed that that’s exactly the point I was trying to make in the book is what you just described. Athletes take the word untested mean, high intensity only just doesn’t mean that means that means all intestacy is very very easy. No 50%, FTP up to whatever, you know, hundred 80% of FTP for a couple seconds, sort of thing. This is all intensity, it’s just a matter of how we divide it up. And that’s what 8020 is about how we’re gonna divide intensity over the course of the season. And I’m only suggesting that it should change based on periodisation.


Trevor Connor  36:50

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Chris Case  37:28

Can I ask sort of about how you how you come to these to these places to form this philosophy? How much of the literature are you reading? How much are you learning from working with athletes? And Has it always been the same? Or have you evolved to rely on one more than the other over the course of your coaching?


Joe Friel  37:47

Yeah, good question. This goes way, way back for me, before I was even coaching, or movies, before I was coaching, cyclists, I was a high school track and field coach at one time back in the 70s. But in the 70s, I got my master’s in exercise science. And I was introduced to the concept of research, which I never really paid much attention to before the 1970s, mid 70s. And it really kind of opened my eyes. But it was it was a real hassle to keep up with any kind of research at all back in the 70s and into the 80s. Because you’d have to go to a library someplace usually at a college, go to the place where all the journals are kept, that are related to the field you’re interested in, and then thumb through them to see what’s going on right now. Just a gigantic process to do this. And that began to change for me, at least in the 1980s because I was subscribing to a lot of publications that kept me informed what was going on with the research. And I’ve never seen that before the 1980s. It was basically research news, what’s the latest stuff, and research. And so I was reading all this and that was prompting me to go out and find specific research studies to verify what I was reading in these news publications. And so the whole thing began to evolve. And so I decided back in the 80s, I was going to pay much more attention to the research. And so I started I began to whenever I could find a research study, or even just abstracts of research studies, I would make copies of them without telling the librarian and store them. And so I began to develop a kind of a stack of of all these studies I wanted to read. And so I just kept them on my desk and it was always the stack. And every day when I got up, the first thing I would do is I take off, you know the study on the top of the stack and read what that study was about. If I found something that was of interest that I thought may be beneficial to my coaching or my philosophy of training. I would write it on a three by five card. This is before computers. So Dr. Dennis three by five card one side, I’d write the summary of the study on one side of the card. And the other side is the reference material. So I could pull it back up again, you know the author’s and all that kind of stuff. And so so, so this is happening every day. And so consequently, over the course of decades, I still do that over the course of decades, three by five cards began to pile up on me. And so I started categorized them by topics in within, you know, files, paper files. So it all started on three by five cards for me back in the 80s. And then, when computers came around, I had already had hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of these cards that were stored in boxes by categories. And so it was just going to be too much just to make any changes. So I kept on doing the same thing. Even when computers came around, I’m still writing three to five cards. And to this day, I still do it that way, I still I know three by five card. How does


Chris Case  40:51

your wife feel about this?


Joe Friel  40:53

Well, my wife, she took up the project of one day, she decided this had to be fixed in case, for example, there was a fire someday all my cars were last, you know, 30 years, 40 years of work down the drain. So she started putting it all on computer on Excel files. And so they’re all saved for me now. So I’ve got them both ways. But quite honestly, the way I still do it is whenever I got a topic I’m interested in, I go to the the box, pull out the tab with all the cards behind that tab, I’m in right on the topic. And again, this just sort the cards in ways that fit my needs, which is what I do in a write a book, you know, so I need to write about this topic in the books, I’ll pull out the cards, I’ll arrange them in the ways that are meaningful for me or discard those that don’t mean, I don’t want to use on this particular topic. And so the whole thing has evolved over time. But that’s that’s how it got started. Because I knew I was all everything up until that point 80s. And then based on reactions are working with athletes, and and even myself, and what was I experiencing as an athlete? How did I see the world from my own experience? How did I see it from the experience of the athletes, I was coaching. And that was the crux of what I was doing. And I decided that that wasn’t enough, I needed to also include what was going on the world of science, to marry these things together. So I can be a more well rounded coach. And so the whole thing grew in that way, kind of like Topsy just just kind of crew, it was no plan. So Chris,


Trevor Connor  42:22

knowing how much of a geek I am, before we called you, we had to talk about the book. And being a geek, I was definitely very excited about all the science you pulled in here. I mean, your your summary of the two threshold and polarize was spot on with the research. And thank you for saying that it’s not lactic acid. It’s hydrogen I rounds. Yeah, I mean, the you explain it in great terms, but the influence of the science was quite a book. And one of the things that I really love is you talk about the the three assets, you say, basically, there’s three assets that we can develop, they’re the only three assets and you make the argument you’re not going to believe. But this is really it, which was your aerobic capacity, anaerobic threshold and economy. And as soon as I saw that, and there’s this great 2008 review by Dr. joiner and Dr. coil, which was





Trevor Connor  43:16

pretty groundbreaking review called endurance exercise performance, the physiology of champions and it really looked at what are the the attributes that separate the top from amateurs? And those are the three things


Joe Friel  43:29

you got? Yeah, that’s that’s kind of in a given up until the sponsor has been lots of it’s become more nuanced than it was when I first came in, came to that topic a long, long time ago. But that’s that’s true. It’s still the crux of churning are really those three things,


Trevor Connor  43:44

though, interestingly, you pick the economy, and they talked about efficiency. And I actually quite agree with you there, because the economy includes efficiency, but it’s more expensive aerodynamics factor in


Joe Friel  43:54

I agree that the efficiency is a subset as I see it if economy.


Trevor Connor  43:58

Yep. So that was that was a nice, subtle change. But you explained that really well. Thanks.


Chris Case  44:05

It’s funny when we before we we we called you up, Joe, Trevor and I were talking about things and I could just tell how excited he was because he’s he is geeky, nerdy, whatever you want to call him. He is man that studies literature and knows the science extremely well. I could just see how excited he was because you and and Trevor have very come to very similar conclusions on a lot of things. So I just wanted to learn. Yeah, yeah.


Joe Friel  44:33

You must be very, very smart guy. Then Trevor.


Trevor Connor  44:38

He talked about that. We said we have very similar viewpoints, you just have 40 years and a heck of a lot more reading on me. We’re talking about tech person, I have some of the same viewpoints as him. It’s not that he has the same viewpoint as me I’m catching.


Joe Friel  44:56

I’ll pass along my three by five cards to you and I’ve charted doing it.


Chris Case  44:59

There you go. Wow, that would be quite a quite a gift. I


Trevor Connor  45:02

think I mentioned this to you in an email. My thesis advisor was Dr. Loren cordain.


Joe Friel  45:08

Oh, yeah, shroud. We’ve talked about that before recall.


Trevor Connor  45:10

Yeah. And so he talks about the days when you had a running shop, over on Elizabeth Street, just right around the corner from CSU. And he used to go over there and talk with you a lot, because he was into running and he was a competitive runner. And he, he said, your attention to detail, your ability to remember, all the details was extraordinary. So I can actually picture you with a ton of carbs with all the details very well,


Joe Friel  45:38

Oh, my, my memory isn’t probably as good as it used to be. So I spend more time not going back to the cards instead of working off my memory than I did a one time,


Chris Case  45:46

Trevor grew up in the age of computers. So I don’t think you have no cards do you, Trevor, but you’d probably be willing to use them. Yeah.


Trevor Connor  45:56

I have zero memory. So I have to write everything down.


Joe Friel  45:59

But I found the act of writing it down, improves my recall. So that actually I think is a benefit to have to spend time with a with a card and a pencil or pen in your hand and actually interpret with the guy the what the author’s were saying, you know, summarize it, and then write it down manually or something about that, for me anyway, that makes it more memorable.


Chris Case  46:20

Let’s dive into those three assets, again, aerobic capacity, anaerobic threshold, and economy. Take it away, Joe, start wherever you’d like maybe aerobic capacity first and get into some of the details there.


Joe Friel  46:31

This is starting to get into kind of a little bit of a science touching on the science of training. But as we’ve been talking about these three things to find who the athlete is when it comes to performance, some athletes have really high levels in one of these are two of these. But sudden we find an athlete who has very high levels in all three, that’s a very, very unique person. So roaming capacity, or usually referred to as do to max medic, most athletes probably have seen that a lot of times, and I’ll reverse his thought that maximal volume of oxygen, an athlete’s body can process as intensity changes. And so the more oxygen an athlete can can process at a very high intensity, like an all out five minute effort is, is indicative of one of their abilities to to have good performance. And so what we find is that the best athletes typically have very high aerobic capacities. Although it’s not the only indicator. There have been lots of good athletes who’ve had low aerobic capacity or low relative to the elite field, who have been high performers. We were talking about running a while ago, I can go back to the 1970s. with Bill Rogers and Frank, shorter marathoners, both extremely good runners. And I knew a lot about those guys that are like my heroes, I was much younger, shorter at a vo two Max and something like about 72 is the highest ever saw him ever reported as being which is, which is good by amateur standards, by pro standards is rather pedestrian. And Bill Rogers had a view to max of 78. In plastic research, I saw him. And that’s pretty normal for high performance, endurance athletes, especially males, that those level 72 sets of 72 and 78. If we just had view to max is the only measure of how an athlete’s performance is going to be determined. We would say that Rogers would win every time. And it wasn’t the case. shorter one a lot of times that he you know, he took the the gold medal, the silver medal in the Olympics in the marathon. He won Boston, he won the few coca marathon in Japan, he won races all over the world. Bill Rodgers was the same way he had won the Boston Marathon like five times if I recall, right. He called him Boston, doughy, and many, many other races around the world marathons. And when they went head to head, it was a toss up. Even though 78 and 72 should be a simple figure to figure out how it’s going to turn out. That’s not the only measure. What we what we found out was through some of the same research was that shorter was very economical, which is one of the three measures three assets as you call it a while ago. He was very economical. He didn’t waste any energy when he ran. I went one time back in 1989. I got to go for a run with both of those guys. They’d never run together except in races. And they were both going to be in Boulder shorter lives in Boulder and Rogers was coming to visit. So I was invited by a friend who was going to be there who do both of them to come over and go for a run with him. So the four of us go for a run in Boulder, Colorado, Colorado is on one side of me I got Frank shorter running. And then the other side I’ve got bill Rogers running and shorter was like watching snowflake off of a lemon of a tree or the wind blow a leaf down the street or, or a gazelle running and he was just so effortless. So it was like, he was just like, you know the wind, he was just there was no effort being shown whatsoever, extremely economical did not waste any energy. On the other side, I’ve got Rodgers running, and he’s got arms flailing, he’s kind of bouncing up and down, he kind of goes side to side as he runs. And so it was obvious to see what what why 72 could sometimes be 278, and stars Robic capacity. It was simply because of the economy shorter, didn’t waste any energy at all. And Rogers wasted tremendous amount of energy. So it was obvious just from seeing just from seeing these two guys beside me. And knowing what I knew about them that that was an important measurement to look at was the economy, the athlete, in fact, with research tends to show almost all the research I’ve read on this topic shows this, that as the an athlete, for this one athlete with high economy typically has I’m sorry, with high vo two max typically has low economy relative to other elite athletes. And those with lower aerobic capacity tend to have higher economy. So there’s kind of like this thing that we’re given at birth, which makes some athletes more economical and some more profound in terms of how they can use oxygen. And so there may be some genetics going on here. It could also be just nature, how they’re they live their lives. There’s lots there’s two variables that account for this. But nevertheless, there’s something going on here, which which dates back and before they started doing the hard training, perhaps


Trevor Connor  51:38

I wasn’t about to bring that up, because there’s this great study in 2009, where they they did a five year study of top pros, and they were looking at V max and this case Delta efficiency, and found that over the five years, these top cyclists would improve in one or the other, but it was an inverse relationship. Yeah, it was almost like they won compensated for the other. And the other thing so here’s another thing that a lot of people don’t know about that’s really interesting is and I might get this mixed up about when they did analysis of Sherpas and high altitude natives in the the Andes. I think it was the Sherpas had extraordinary vo two maxes, yes. Where the high the high altitude and these natives actually have very typical or very normal view to max but we’re extraordinarily economical, and efficient.


Joe Friel  52:29

Yeah, good research.


Chris Case  52:30

What does economical mean? In a practical sense for for people out there listening?


Joe Friel  52:35

Yeah, it’s, it comes down to a lot of things, for example, and get into the dig into the physiology of it. And it has to do with muscle types, in part, because slow twitch and fast twitch, well, what’s your ratio of slow twitch to fast twitch in your, in your thigh muscle, for example, for given athlete, and that’s one measure economy. Typically, endurance athletes have a high proportion of slow twitch muscles in the muscles they use in the sport. Whereas power athletes have a high proportion of fast twitch muscles. And so that that’s the sort of thing we could start then digging into almost everything about the physiology of the athlete and talk about you know, which, which is the beneficial things in endurance athlete, these are things out of the athletes control, they’re just not going to change these things. We can look at, you know, body type. For example, there’s research that’s been shown that the best cyclists have wrong thigh bones, relative to leg length, whereas the best runners have long Shin bones relative to like length. So having a long shin bone is certainly not something you have control over, but it impacts your economy. Because in cycling, that puts you in a good position as far as being a livery you basically a lever when you’re using levers when you pedal the bike. So that puts you in a situation where you’ve got more economical levers to use. And then it gets into things that so that’s just the physiology, and the, the physical side of it. And I’m just touching on the tip of the iceberg right there. gigantic amount of stuff that goes down below the surface on that topic. But then we get into skills, you know, this now becomes also a measure of economy is how does the How does the athlete pedal? How good do they hold on to the pedal the bicycle? How do they corner? How do they do when they’re out of the saddle? What’s the economy like when they’re climbing a hill versus on flat terrain, and basically, economy is being measured now in terms of all this stuff, in terms of how much oxygen does it take to achieve a certain level of performance. So we could take a cyclist, put them on a rugged ometer and have them pedal at 300 watts for five minutes and measure how much oxygen they use during that five minutes at 300 watts has and go out and train in a certain way. Come back six weeks later, do exactly the same test over again. And if they use less oxygen at 300 watts for five minutes. than they did before, they’re now more economical. Because oxygen basically is the currency we use to measure the cost of, of exercise for endurance athletes. And so basically that’s that’s what these, quote economy is all about.


Trevor Connor  55:16

to really go down a rabbit hole here of a Chris, you’d find this interesting. This is why that whole argument that if everybody dopes, it’s an even playing field is wrong, because you can really dope to improve your vo to Max, but you can’t do to improve economy. So when you have somebody who’s very economical with a low vo, two Max, they’re really gonna benefit. Somebody who’s unnaturally high vo to max but isn’t very economical doping is not going to help them at all. Yeah, you’re right, exactly. Right.


Chris Case  55:44

All right, should we jump over to anaerobic threshold at this point? and talk a little bit more about that?


Joe Friel  55:51

Okay, yeah, the we’ve talked now about the aerobic capacity of vo to max and economy. The third of these assets we’re talking about that makes for a good endurance athlete is the anaerobic threshold or lactate threshold, which really comes down to how did we, how do we measure this, this metric, this athlete, this asset, who get the details of that, but basically what this threshold is, is the point at which an athlete begins to redline. To keep this in language, I think we can all probably crash pretty easily without getting into all the science behind it. It’s kind of like we’re talking about the rating of perceived exertion scale of zero 10. And let’s say that seven represents the anaerobic threshold. So it’s relatively high, 10 being the highest. So the athlete when they’re at seven, they are at their anaerobic threshold, or lactate threshold, or even FTP. So they can go above that, that the problem is they can’t hold for too long if they get above it. And so the higher the athletes anaerobic threshold, is as a percentage of their vo two Max, the greater their performances, because they’ve got it. So having a smallest amount of space between one’s upper in vo two Max, and one threshold is really good as long as a vo two Max is really high. So for example, let’s say that we’ve got two athletes both have the very same vo two max it’s 70, we’ll say one of them as anaerobic capacity or anaerobic threshold, rather, of let’s say it’s about 85% of 70. And the other has a percentage of 80% of vo to Max, I can guarantee that the person that 85% he’s got a great advantage when it comes to being doing something such as a long, steady effort, like a long time, that person has quite an advantage just in terms of that one metric that determines the outcome of climbs or time trials, whatever may be because that athlete 85 percenter can operate at a very high percentage of co2 max. If the other athlete has the same vo two max but 80% is the anaerobic threshold, they’re going to be off the back. So it’s just again another way of measuring the athletes physiology in terms of performance.


Trevor Connor  58:10

While we had lotto NLD umbo Ryder Sep coos in studio, we asked him about the cyclist training Bible, like many of us said read the book early in his career. What he remembers is the periodization strategies. However, like many in the newer generation, CEP questions, traditional periodization Okay, next question, which could be a really short answer, because it starts with a yes or no. And if the answer is no, then there is not a second question. Have you ever read? Joe freels? The cyclist training Bible?



Yeah. Okay, good. Then


Trevor Connor  58:44

we got a question here. What are your thoughts on the book? And did that have an impact on your training?



Yeah, I, I first bought that I think I bought that book. And when I was pretty young, actually, because I was I was interested and I’m trying to think back, I’m still


Chris Case  59:00

pretty young, by the way.



I like the idea that you need to keep, like his his philosophy about tapering. You, keeping your intensity maintained, I think is super at least for me, that’s when I perform best in races. If, if I do, you know, really, really good training and then drop the volume down quite a bit, but maintain that or even increase that intensity. Otherwise, because I’ve had I’ve had both situations. And I know people who do do the taper process differently. And yeah, for me, I really like to maintain that that high end.


Trevor Connor  59:42

So you said you bought that book very young, so I’m guessing that was probably one of your first training books, if not your first



Yeah. How come


Trevor Connor  59:48

you you chose that book?



I don’t know. Maybe that was the only one that was. That is what’s that probably the first like real accessible training book. The book you see on any average Joe cyclists probably has that that book.


Chris Case  1:00:04

Is there anything else that you remember about that book that that sort of influenced how you ride and train?



I remember it was pretty periodized I guess? I don’t necessarily agree with all of that. I believe in like, really specific. I think you can have specificity throughout the year, I don’t think I don’t think there should be distinct phases of seeing, like the idea of a dedicated base period a dedicated, not not realizing, I think I think you can, I think you can incorporate so much into that base period. That’s, that’s specific, but not specific in a way that’s gonna fry you. I think there’s, there’s so much like, like technique work you can do. And, you know, you can still train your lactate buffering capacity, but you can do it, you don’t have to do it at the power you would do in July, you know, you still train the neuromuscular systems, all that I think. And then and then you have more to build on when you actually truly approach those different different systems. So, for me, I like to have specificity all through all through the year,


Trevor Connor  1:01:17

which is actually where it seems like things are heading. Mm hmm. Just this this concept that actually, when you look at top pros, on their distribution of high intensity, low intensity stays actually pretty consistent throughout the year. Yeah, you know, let’s say the same thing. The types of intervals I do during the season are different from the intervals I’m going to do and December in January, right and always doing some high intensity.



Yeah. Yeah. Because like, just because you’re doing like your, your, your, whatever power you can do, the co2 is always going to be different. But yeah, if you if you come, if you start doing that interval, in May, it’s a complete shock to the system. Right? You know, even even if you are not training a certain system for like, two weeks, you can it’s going to feel, at least for me, it’s going to feel really foreign. Two weeks later, particularly a shock for you, because you start racing in February. So if you start doing interval work in May, yeah, you’re gonna have some very unhappy races. Yeah. Yeah, it’s gonna be some some interesting, big, big explosions. Yeah. Yeah.


Trevor Connor  1:02:24

The fact that many newer pros started using less traditional periodization strategies may be why Joe added a whole new chapter on different approaches in his book. Let’s get back to the interview and hear what Joe has to say about it.


Chris Case  1:02:36

before we let you go, Joe, let’s let’s talk about one of the big topics we haven’t really we’ve touched upon, but we haven’t gone into much detail on and I know, it’s something that’s crucial to the book, crucial to your philosophy, and really a concept that’s revolutionized cycling training. And that’s periodisation.


Joe Friel  1:02:51

Yeah, go back to the the first edition of the book I wrote back in about 96. In that book, I only talked about one form of periodization. It’s called linear polarization, it’s the most basic, it’s the simplest type. It’s the one that has been around the longest. But in the more recent edition is fifth edition, I talked about several forms of periodization, about four or five of them, and talk about why they are, why they’ve got merits of their own, and why an athlete might want to choose one over the other. So they kind of take that back and explain why I made that change in the more recent edition. In 96, when I wrote the first book, the concept of periodization only been around in western countries, United States and Europe and so forth. Western Europe, since about 1972. That was when we began, athletes at the highest level, began to become aware of this concept of periodization, which the Eastern Bloc countries had been using for Gosh, some 20 years. Or in some cases, you could argue goes back even farther than that, they were pretty well into understanding how to do this. And so by 772, we came along Western civilization, Western athletes came along, and began to apply this to their training, using the most simple concept. But when I wrote the first book in 96, it really not trickled down very well at all, to the average racer. So I decided I needed to explain periodisation. But I don’t want to go into all the details. So I just kind of like save the most simple version, just because I wanted to introduce the concept of nothing else, which is called linear periodization, which is very simply, you start training roughly five or six months before your race, you go through a base period, which in which you really emphasize duration volume. And then you begin to switch over to in the last 12 weeks or so before the the event returning for switchover to emphasizing high intensity training. And that that roughly is the linear concept. But it’s by no means the only way of doing this. There are several ways of doing it. And I describe actually three others in the book, it kind of touched on the fourth one, which is really good without going into a lot of detail on it. But there are three others that discussed in some detail in the book. Those were alternatives to linear periodization. And they work for some athletes in certain conditions, as opposed to working doing linear polarization, they’d be better off using another method. And so I talked about in the book, how to go about deciding which is the best best method given your unique situation. And that that I think, is one of the key topics of the book is understanding how to do this, because that kind of brings us back then to the whole idea of planning, which is really the heart of the book is planning for your, your race, so you do a good job of performing. And this is the starting set for periodisation is deciding how am I going to periodize? How am I going to prepare for this race? What methodology will I use. And so that’s what I discuss in a couple of chapters in the middle of the book here also, is are these various concepts as opposed to something just one.


Trevor Connor  1:06:00

So really, the, the thing I found very interesting or really liked when you talked about the periodization was was both this increasing specificity. But you also, so we won’t unfortunately have any time to go into the the six key assets or abilities that you talked about in the book, but you divide them into basic abilities and advanced abilities. And one of the things I really loved in the book when you’re talking about periodization is he said the the three basic abilities, you can do those all year long, you could keep doing those you’ll never burn out, you’ll never truly fatigue, the advanced abilities, which are what you need to win races, those effective, you can only do them so long before you start to burn out. And it seems like a lot of your focus in the periodization was it’s not just what is the right training, but how do you time that training so that you can hit the right form at the right time and avoid burnout?


Joe Friel  1:06:59

Yeah, yeah, you summarized quite well. Yeah, that that really is the heart of the discussion is what you just described.


Chris Case  1:07:07

Alright, Joe, so you’re on the clock, you’ve got one minute, to summarize a a lifetime of work in this book, we’re giving you a very difficult final task. So you’re, you’ve got one minute, let’s hear your tips for our listeners out there.


Joe Friel  1:07:25

Well, I think the number one tip for an athlete would be to really come to realize what you’re all about, who are you as an athlete. And without trying to muddy up the world any that comes down to being able to do certain things. athletes, typically cyclists, excel at climbing, time trialing sprinting, or all around performance. Those are the three phenotypes commonly discussed. The athlete needs to decide where they are there, and then decide what it is they want to train for and how their phenotype compares with their their goal. If there’s a gap between their phenotype and their goal, that there was a weakness, then they need to come up with a procedure methods for improving that I call those limiters, how can they improve their limiters? And that then leads us in the whole idea of preparation for the race planning, laying out a schedule, per decision, all that sort of thing. And so the whole topic just kind of blends in together once the athlete knows who they are, and what it is they want to achieve that that’s always the starting point.


Chris Case  1:08:31

Excellent. I’m gonna put myself on the clock for a minute. You know, what I love about this book is it’s something that builds in a novice, a foundation of understanding of a lot of interesting concepts, and somebody who has some basic knowledge of things, it takes them a step further, you know, I was I was sort of thinking about how people might dive into this book and get the most out of it. And I think I might have to recommend Joe’s method, which is, every morning, you wake up, you read a chapter, and you summarize it on the back of a three by five note card, you sort of committed to your own way of thinking about it. And there’s just so many amazing and complex things. And there’s so many balances that take place in training science, when you start to start to really dive into it. And it goes without saying that’s why Joe has written now five versions of the book. He’s introducing even in this fifth one, something new to Sport Science, this this concept of how does adaptation take place and some of these things that we’re, we’ve, we really don’t know a lot about right now. And we will hopefully over the next couple decades, learn a lot more about and then it will advance all of our training and performances from there. So it’s just one of those amazing it is the cyclist training Bible. Yeah, that that’s more than a minute but it’s a It’s, it’s hard to summarize such a tome in such a short amount of time. So you’re welcome, Trevor, do you have one minute summary as well to give to listeners?





Trevor Connor  1:10:15

so I’m going to start by saying, You got me with lactic acid. When I read you saying, it’s not lactic acid, it’s hydrogen ions. I was like, thank you. But all joking aside, as we mentioned earlier, Chris and I talked beforehand, I guess I was coming across as pretty excited. But a big part of that reason is, you know, two years of doing this podcast now, we’ve had a lot of top physiologists, we’ve had a lot of top coaches come into the show and give their philosophies give their approaches. And there’s themes that have been coming out from from all these experts that have come on our show that we’ve been trying to get across and continue to repeat throughout the show. And the thing I said to Chris, before we started this podcast is this book is really a summary of all that. And you see both the the science the there’s a huge amount of science behind your book, but you also see the experience side of it, and you pull it together really well which which we really enjoy. And I think by my one recommendation I have to the listeners if you get this book is just know where you are at in your career as a cyclist or your time as a cyclist. Cuz this book, I mean, you get complex, you were just talking about periodization and you get into inverse periodization and all the different types. Don’t if you’re a first year cyclist, don’t pick up this book and try to do everything in it. I would say hang on to the book. start with the basics he talks about in the winter, doing the just doing the the basic skills or the basic abilities. And maybe that’s all you do for your first year. Don’t try to apply some sort of advanced periodization strategy in your first year. But as you progress, come back to the book and start applying more and more. Don’t try to do it all at once. Right good. That was another episode of Fast Talk. As always, we’d love your feedback. Email us at Fast Talk@velonews.com Subscribe to Fast Talk on iTunes, Stitcher, SoundCloud and Google Play. Be sure to leave us a rating and a comment. While you’re there. Check out our sister podcasts, the velonews podcast which covers news about the week and cycling become a fan of Fast Talk and facebook@facebook.com slash fella news and on twitter@twitter.com slash velonews. Fast talk is a joint production between velonews and Connor coaching the thoughts and opinions expressed in Fast Talker those are the individual for Chris case, Sep coos, Frank Overton and of course Joe Friel. I’m Trevor Connor. Thanks for listening.