Breaking Down the Training Plan: Specific Preparation or Base Phase

In order to help an athlete peak at the right time and achieve his or her racing goals, the training objectives within the macrocycle shift throughout the course of the training plan.

This is the longest macro-cycle phase. This phase is referred to the base phase. The focus of this phase is to maintain the skills and drills developed in the preparation phase and continue to build aerobic endurance and strength. Specific workout details will improve technique, form, and skills that target the aerobic energy system to improve cardiovascular and muscular energy systems. Resistance training during this phase will help increase muscle recruitment and strength and prepare the athlete for higher volume through this phase and intensity work in the competition phase. The later phase, entering pre-competition, is where athletes start to integrate race-specific training. Athletes can start to use C races to provide feedback about their preparedness for competition.

Duration of this phase

When developing a training plan, I block 6-12 weeks from the start of an athlete’s competition phase as the specific preparation or base phase. Athletes training for a Sprint or Olympic Distance Triathlon, this phase generally is 6-8 weeks long. Athletes training for a 70.3 and Ironman this phase lasts 8-12 weeks. The Preparation phase is typically longer for the beginner athlete than the athlete who already has an endurance foundation. Building a good base for endurance and strength will enable you to endure more intense training with less risk of injury. Typically volume peaks at the end of this phase. It is important to note,  intensity and volume are dependent on each athlete’s experience and how much volume and intensity you complete in the base phase determines how intensity you build during your competition phase.


Training sessions emphasize aerobic endurance, muscular strength and technique and intensity is low to moderate zone 2.  Some sessions involving cadence sessions on the bike, paddle work in the pool and hill sessions for both run and bike with stress the systems into zone 3. Training volume starts low and progressively increases over the course of the phase. A less experience, lower fitness level athlete, might not reach much above zone 2. An intermediate athlete will move toward the high end of zone 3. And advanced athletes can train up to zone 4 in the later stage of this phase.

During the later phase, into the precompetition phase, emphasis shifts to the development of specific endurance with the use of sport-specific interval-based training methods. 

Related Articles: How are Training Zones Determined-Baseline Testing

Related Article: Determining Training Zones

Beginner and Advanced Training Plans on Training Peaks

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