How Important is Base Training in Triathlon?

Triathlete during the run of an Ironman
September 26, 2016

Mike Ricci



Coach an athlete that was preparing for a marathon in December. I had him keeping the sports balanced and the schedule pretty moderate in volume. He is preparing for an IM in September and we are a long way from there in terms of ramping up the volume. He ended up missing the race due to a conflict with his final exam and ran the 13.1 miles by himself the next weekend. He ran a PR of 1:29. Considering he has never had a coach before, this really wasn a surprise. I would say that the coach is not the reason for the PR 95% of the time.

Really, it's just the consistency, and having someone to answer to. A few weeks later, this athlete has an emergency appendectomy operation on Christmas day. Good bye fitness right? Guess again. Prior to the marathon he tested out at 25:00 for 3 miles on the track at an aerobic heart rate. Two weeks after the operation he was able to run another test, this time the result was 30:00. Not exactly what we were hoping for, four weeks before another marathon.

Leading up to the race, his training consisted of nothing more then a few runs a week, nothing more then ninety minutes and nothing higher then a Zone 2 heart rate. He was still using his Computrainer and swimming two times a week. He was feeling better but not as fit as he did before the December marathon. We were shooting for something in the 1:32-1:35 range and he was to start out conservatively. When all was said and done he ran a 1:27! Another PR by 2 more minutes!

Was it great coaching? Hardly. Was it the base training we did back in October through December? You betcha it was. I can't wait to see how fast this athlete goes when he actually does some speed work and we taper him. My point? Instead of hammering away get your base miles in. The bigger engine you build, the faster you can go.

Michael Ricci is a USAT certified coach. He can be reached for personal coaching at

Coach Mike Ricci is the Founder and Head Coach for D3 Multisport.  His coaching style is ‘process-focused’ vs. ‘results-focused.’ When working with an athlete, their understanding of how and why they are improving is always going to take precedence over any race result. Yes, there is an end goal, but in over 2 decades of coaching, experience has shown him that if you do the right work, and for the right reasons, the results will follow.

Coach Mike is a USAT Level III Elite Certified Coach, Ironman University Certified Coach, and Training Peaks Level II Certified Coach. He was honored as the USAT Coach of the Year.

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