Periodisation, Training Cycles and When to do what?


During the week I got asked a question regarding training periodisation and how do I set out a plan to work through a year. Now the theory behind training periodisation is something that every coach has their own opinions on and the phrase “there are many ways to skin a cat” certainly applies here.

For me personally and the athletes I look after, I start this process by making sure we have outlined what we would like to achieve for our year and have set ourselves a goal. Once we’ve done that we need to know what elements of our training we need to work on to give ourselves the best chance at achieving that goal.

Now the traditional periodisation model normally begins with doing a long slow base miles to build a solid foundation for which we can then build from. This model finishes by including our high-end anaerobic work closest to race day in order to top our speed bank off and be primed for peak performance. I find this method of programming for triathlon to be largely backwards and not conducive to performing at your highest level for a number of reasons, but one in particular stands out, and it’s simply:

Triathlon is an Aerobic Sport - This sport rarely lasts less than 1hr for the majority of those racing and it can potentially last for up to 17hrs. While there will be moments across all races where your anaerobic energy systems will be required to activate, for the better part, our body is using oxygen to keep our muscles firing throughout the largest portions of our racing.

From a basic physiology standpoint: your body will adapt to the stimulus that is thrown at it. If you do consistent aerobic work, your aerobic condition will improve. Likewise, if you do consistent speed work, you’ll become faster. Simple right? Now when you’re planning your training, it’s important to remember that when you are training one energy system, the other energy systems are slowly diminishing in the background. So logic would suggest that given this sport is primarily an aerobic sport, we would want to ensure that our aerobic conditioning is at its peak coming into race day.

So this all means what? It is at this point that you need to determine the needs of your event and then set out the basic structure of your training cycles to make sure that the work that is most closely related to the demands of your event is most prevalent in the final block of training prior to your event. Ensure that the there are plans in place to tackle your weaknesses while never neglecting your strengths and last but certainly not least, have patience in your development and focus on ticking off those smaller goals, and the bigger ones will come!

If you would like any help with this, get in touch and we can have chat about your goals this year and how I might be able to help you achieve them.


Quote of the Week

Set your goals high, and don't stop til you get there!

          Bo Jackson

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