Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Origins of the Training Bible

Recently I was interviewed by an Australia cycling magazine that was interested in the the origins of the Cyclist's Training Bible. Here is the transcript...

Q. Have you been surprised by the success of 'The Cyclist's Training Bible'?

A. Yes. When I started writing it back in 1994 my only purpose was to put on paper what I did with athletes in order to see if I could explain it and in the process better understand my own methods. I thought it would sell maybe 5,000 copies over the next 7 years and that would be the end of it. It sold that many in the first few months. I was astonished.

Q. Given that 14 years have elapsed since the first edition, what have been the most significant changes in cycling over that period?

A. Training for cycling has become much more scientific. I had always approached training that way but never really knew of anyone else who also studied the science of training for the sport. Now it seems most everyone, athletes and coaches, have a much better grasp of the science behind high performance.

Q. While appreciating that the Bible may have started off its life as a training tool for the serious cyclists, have you noticed any shift in readership - an increase perhaps in the numbers of recreational riders who want to up their performances?

A. I get emails from riders from all over the world who tell me that they have used it to ride faster centuries, ride stronger with their local group, or just be more fit. I never expected non-racers to have an interest in it.

Q. Is it possible for recreational riders to lift their performances, to become more bike-fit by reading your book?

A. Yes, there's no doubt. Any time someone is interested in being more fit in order to ride faster they will benefit from doing much the same stuff that high-performance racers do.

Q. Can you provide us with a couple of the highlights of your career as a coach?

A. One of the things that has always excited me is to see novices begin to succeed and realize they are becoming competitive athletes. I'm working with an older woman now who is in her first full season of racing. She is making great progress yet still has a long ways to go. This is one of the things I find very exciting. The other is consulting with athletes who race at the highest level. They have unique needs and I find it very fulfilling to help them excel also. There have been many athletes in both categories.

Q. What spawned your interest in cycling?

A. I started out as a runner in the 1970s. Then I took up triathlon in 1983.
And shortly after that got involved in cycling also. My son, Dirk, played a big part in that final shift as he was starting to race at about the same time--early 1980s.

Q. How did your career begin?

A. I was a high school track coach in the 1970s. In the mid-1970s I got my masters in exercise science in order to improve my own racing. I decided to leave teaching and open a running store in 1979. Then in 1983 I bought the bike store next door. While operating these stores people would come in to talk with me about how to train for some event since they knew I had a degree in that area. Next thing you know I was coaching dozens of people. By 1987 I realized I liked coaching more than retail so sold the businesses. I have been coaching ever since.

Q. Your son Dirk became a professional rider - is it something that's in the genes?

A. Science tells us that endurance comes from the mother. Not sure what I contributed. And actually I'm not sure who the mentor is - Dirk or me. We're kind of like a team.

Q. Were you from a cycling background?

A. No. My father and mother had no interest in sport. They grew up in the Depression years and had very hard lives. My father was the primary bread winner in his family starting at age 13. I became interested because of a coach I had in high school back in the early 1960s.


At July 7, 2009 5:04 PM , Blogger Mark said...

Hi Joe:

I have been using the Cyclist training bible 3rd edition for 2 years now and finally seeing some improvements. I bought a powermeter last fall and started tracking progress and it has been helpful.

Now that the 4th edition is out can you list some key changes in the book? I am especially interested in power based planning and training.


At July 7, 2009 8:10 PM , Blogger Joe Friel said...

Hi Mark--Thanks for your comment. Every chapter had something added. The book grew by about 20%. The biggest change was in the chapter on intensity where I added a lot of new stuff on training with power. You can by the "Companion" to the 3rd edition for $10. This small book has only the additions made.

At July 27, 2009 2:49 PM , Blogger Will said...

Is this the same for the Triathlete's Training Bible - can I just get the companion rather than replace my 2nd edition with the 3rd edition?

At July 27, 2009 4:24 PM , Blogger Joe Friel said...

Will--All you need is the Companion. Amazon and other online book stores carry it.


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