I’m back in beautiful Colorado. Home, sweet home… ☺
Although it was a tough week, I’d have to say that it was a pretty epic training week. I’m giving myself an A for the workouts because I stayed with the program, got EVERY SINGLE workout in, and even did my makeup workout on Monday. In all, it was over 12 hours of training, four double workouts, and even included a 51 mile session on the trainer… yikes!
Here’s where we are, from a training plan perspective:
That brings me to my topic of the week, periodization. I have talked about it a little in previous posts, but this deserves another look. Periodization is a training concept in which a year, or a specific part of the year, is divided into periods. In each period the athlete focuses on improving a specific aspect of fitness while maintaining the gains made in previous periods. Training by following the concepts of periodization is the most likely way known today to achieve athletic success. The initial periods focus on very general training, which is intended to improve base fitness. As the training plan progresses, the training becomes much more specific, and focuses on particular skills to gain improvement. If the general training is skipped, then the specific training will not be nearly as effective. The patience to sustain during the preparation and initial base phases are the path to future performance gains.
The initial phases of the plan involve longer workouts, typically at lower intensities. This builds aerobic fitness, which improves endurance. Once the later stages have been reached, the workouts will have shifted to shorter, more intense workouts, which improve force, speed, muscular endurance, and anaerobic endurance. To properly progress between the stages, an athlete should perform a performance test, like a lactate threshold test, at the beginning of each stage. This gives the proper information to be able to determine the proper zones, and thus be able to train at the right intensity. The construction of a training plan that is comprised of the proper periods is a completely different topic, and is too much content to add to this particular blog post.
Joe Friel has published many books and white papers on this topic, and is considered to be one of the industry’s leading experts on the development of training plans based on periodization. You can find further information on one of his many sites:
For my chart below, the thin line is the planned duration, and the blue bars are the actual duration. You can see the periodization, as the volume goes up to a certain point and then, at the end of the period, drops a bit, then climbs again throughout the period. You can clearly see the taper just before the race, where the volume drops off drastically. The recovery days in the middle of each week are where the thin line drops to zero.
The intention, remember, is to retain the skills and fitness that you achieved in the prior period, and build on that further. It requires planning, specific training, and proper recovery to do that, not to mention nutrition.
I hope this helps people understand some of the fundamentals of periodization. I’m happy to provide further information, too, for anyone who’s interested. My obsession with data plays perfectly into periodization. If you want to get more fit, then measure your progress. The same goes for speed, endurance, strength, and all aspects of triathlon.
I decided not to put the nutrition chart in this week. I ate really well all week (thus the A grade), but the table wasn’t formatting well on mobile devices, so I am going to work on that, and may implement a different way in the future.
As always, thanks for reading, and Train On!!