Phases of First Build

In this post I thought I would describe my bike training for the next six months, and attempt to justify my methods. As I mentioned in my last post, I follow Jack Daniels' Running Formula for my run training. In his section on “the season plan” he recommends four phases in the build up to a race. I am training for a half-marathon (off the bike), so I am looking at the corresponding training phases of this type of event. Phase 1 is comprised mainly of EASY paced runs and eventually some strides. In phase 1 you are increasing the mileage and allowing your body to adapt to running for progressively longer periods of time. Phase 2 should have a primary emphasis on REPETITION and INTERVAL paces, with only a secondary focus on THRESHOLD pace. Phase 3 should have an emphasis on INTERVAL pace with only a secondary focus on THRESHOLD pace. Phase 4 should have an emphasis on THRESHOLD pace. I discussed the meaning of these terms in my last post. I have followed this formula for about two years now with my running and have seen a steady increase in performance as a byproduct. When I got equipped with power on my bike it was only natural that I would follow the same type of formula. Using Coggan's terminology here is what Daniels' four phases look like to me:

  • Phase 1: Emphasis on ENDURANCE and ACTIVE RECOVERY wattages with short NEUROMUSCULAR POWER bursts added in during later stages of the phase.
  • Phase 2: Emphasis on ANAEROBIC CAPACITY with a secondary focus on VO2MAX wattages.
  • Phase 3: Emphasis on VO2MAX wattages with a secondary focus on LACTATE THRESHOLD wattages.
  • Phase 4: Emphasis on LACTATE THRESHOLD wattages.

I should mention that from experience and preference I have developed phase 4 to have a primary focus on LACTATE THRESHOLD, and start with a secondary focus on VO2MAX, but as phase 4 comes to a close the secondary focus shifts to ANAEROBIC CAPACITY.

I have started my bike training with a 2.5 month build that will end on December 31st with another FTP test. In my mind, I am pretending to train for a 60k time-trial. My second build will start on January 1st and will be for a real 90k time-trial i.e. the U.S. Pro Championship on May 3rd.

Biking is my main mode of transportation. On Monday and Friday I coach across town, which is a total ride of about 22 kilometres, and on Wednesday and Saturday the commute to and from coaching is about 16 kilometres. Thus, I estimate I travel by bicycle an average of 80-100 kilometres per week just in commute. It is for this reason that I begin my first build in my bike training plan with a blend of Phase 1 and Phase 2. I do not feel it necessary to have a phase entirely dedicated to ENDURANCE and ACTIVE RECOVERY biking. I have taken about a month off from bike workouts (after Muskoka 70.3), but I have probably travelled around 400 kilometres by bike in that time. So, the first phase in my first build will have an ENDURANCE and ANAEROBIC CAPICITY emphasis, with a secondary focus on VO2MAX.

I started this first build on Tuesday October 15th, and it will end on Tuesday December 31st, so this means I have about 11 weeks to train (77 days). From experience, I see my biggest gains in phase 4 (LACTATE THRESHOLD emphasis), likely because this is closer to the physiological demands of the particular kind of racing I am doing. That being said, I have chosen to spend three weeks in a blend of phase 1 and 2 (Tuesday October 15th to Monday November 4th); three weeks in phase 3 (Tuesday November 5th to Monday November 25th); and five weeks in phase 4 (Tuesday November 26th to Monday December 30th).

The first week of training looked like this:

Tuesday October 15th: FTP test (50m total)

Wednesday October 16th: 30m bike avg. 231w

Thursday October 17th: 8 x 30 seconds @ 465w with 1.5m recovery (42m total)

Friday October 18th: OFF

Saturday October 19th: OFF

Sunday October 20th: 30m bike avg. 220w

Monday October 21st: 8x(30s @ 500w with 1m recovery to 1.5m @ 420w with 1.5m recovery) (65m total)

As you can see, the total time spent on the bike was 217 minutes. The main part of the FTP test was 20 minutes at 408w, which falls into the VO2MAX zone. Additionally, I spent 8 x 1.5 minutes at 420w, which also falls into the VO2MAX zone. Thus, I spent 32 minutes at VO2MAX, which is about 15% of my weekly mileage. I spent 8 x 30s at 465w, as well as 8 x 30s at 500w, which means I spent about 8 minutes at ANAEROBIC CAPACITY, which is about 4% of my weekly mileage. I spent 30 minutes at 231w, as well as another 30m at 220w, so I spent about 60 minutes in the ENDURANCE zone, or about 28% of my weekly mileage. Finally, the remaining 117 minutes was spent mostly in the ACTIVE RECOVERY zone. Here is what I just calculated in chart form:


Time spent in minutes

% of weekly mileage

Active Recovery









Lactate Threshold






Anaerobic Capacity



Neuromuscular Power



Keep in mind that these are just approximations based on the wattages I programmed the CompuTrainer to hold. It is very unlikely that I actually spent zero minutes in the LACTATE THRESHOLD zone because at the very least I would have had to have passed through it to get into VO2MAX. If you need more accuracy than this you'll be happy to know that TrainingPeaks determines the exact time spent in every zone, including the few seconds you may spend accelerating to a zone. At a later date I may switch over to TrainingPeaks' more precise data analysis tools, but for now a pencil and calculator is my preference.

The last thing I would like to mention is that even though ANAEROBIC CAPACITY only made up about 4% of my weekly mileage, this was still predominantly the focus. This wattage is very taxing, and even at the end of this phase, the most I will get up to is 8-10% of weekly mileage. The point is that the workouts in this first phase will be either purely in the ANAEROBIC CAPACITY zone (like Thursday's workout) or will have a large ANAEROBIC CAPACITY component (like in Monday's workout).

In my next post I will describe the difficulties I encountered with respect to the CompuTrainer, when attempting to do the two workouts I mentioned above. Soon after I will do another post on the actual results of the workouts and discuss any adjustments that should be made to the training plan based on the results.