This 12-week Ironman Base period training plan was personally designed by Joe Friel using the principles described in his books--The Triathletes Training Bible and Going Long (co-author Gordo Byrn). It differs from the plan with a similar title for OVER-50 aged triathletes in that the recovery weeks occur every 4th week here while in the OVER-50 plan they are every 3rd week. This plan is easy to read and to follow and will prepare you to start Joe's Ironman Build-Peak-Race periods training plan, either "intermediate" (15-17 hours/week) or "advanced" (18-20 hours). It is best to start this plan 24 weeks before your Ironman race if you intend to follow it with either of his Build-Peak-Race plans as they last 12 weeks. Another option is to start it 28-32 weeks before your Ironman and repeat the last 4 weeks of the plan once or twice to more fully establish your Base fitness.
To start this plan you should already be capable of swimming 1 hour, biking 90 minutes and running 1 hour. The emphasis in the first several weeks of this plan is on running. In the latter half the emphasis shifts toward the bike. Each week there are 3 swims, 2-5 rides, 4-5 runs and 1-2 strength workouts. Weekly volume steadily increases from 12 to 17 hours. The exceptions are in rest and recovery weeks every fourth week when training is greatly reduced for 4-5 days culminating with self-testing. These R&R weeks will shed fatigue allowing for adaptation and improved performance. For gauging intensity on the bike you may use either heart rate or power. For the run either heart rate or pace. Swim intensities are based on pace and perceived exertion. Your swim, bike, and run training zones (heart rate, power, and/or pace) should be set before starting the plan. (For a detailed description of how to set your zones go to http://www.trainingbible.com/joesblog/2009/11/quick-guide-to-setting-zones.html.)