The books (there are three one for road cyclists, one for mountain bikers, and one for triathletes) guide athletes through the process of creating training programs for themselves and also contain formatted pages that allow them to log workout information as they train.
On Oct. 1, Friel and two partners, including his son Dirk, who is also a coach, launched the Web site TrainingBible.com, which essentially moves this logging function online and enhances it with a variety of features that no book could offer.
Explains the Fort Collins, Colo.-based Friel: "After the books came out, I kept getting requests for an electronic version of the training bible. Finally, in October '99, Dirk and I talked about it and decided to give it a try."
The father-son team recruited Dirk's longtime friend Gear Fischer to develop the site. The resulting Web-based application allows users to create a personal profile and long-term training program, log individual workouts, and analyze training data.
The user experience will be fairly familiar for those who have read and used one or more of Friel's books, but might leave others scratching their heads.
"I would say it's almost necessary to have the book in order to get the most out of the site," Friel says. Athletes can order the books through TrainingBible.com or Amazon.com.
According to Friel, among whose personal athlete clients is Olympic triathlete Ryan Bolton, the features that his new Web site offers represent only a first step.
"What we envision is a virtual coach that makes decisions and does basically everything a real coach would do for you," he says.
For example, Friel wants the application to suggest specific workouts for athletes based on individual data (the existing site allows users to select designed workouts from an archive).
Asked whether "virtual coaching" is the future of endurance sports, Friel responds, "I think so. The thing that's held a lot of athletes back from getting a personal coach is the cost. With an online coach, you can enjoy a lot of the benefits of having a personal coach for a fraction of the cost."
Athletes get one year of usage of the site's features for $99. A free trial membership option allows athletes to use the site's features for 30 days free of charge.