July 20, 2017

Periodize Your Training

Jarrett Pflieger

Are you the type of person that does the same workouts week in and week out and constantly tries to improve on your last training session?  Please stop.  You will save yourself a lot of time and maybe even get faster in the process.

Many athletes fail to realize that our bodies need rest. There’s a little voice that tells us to train faster, longer, and more often or we won’t get better.  That is true to some extent, but we forget one very important aspect . . . our bodies need to recover through rest.

That’s right, you can’t get better if you don’t recover and adapt from your workouts, and you can’t recover if you don’t rest.  Periodizing your workouts ensure that you get the appropriate amount of rest, while still continuing to vary and build on your workouts to get better.  So how do you periodize your current training?

There are many views and opinions on this matter, but one system that seems to work is based off five phases; adaptation, base, build, race, and transition.  With each phase, you change up and focus your training to build up a different part of your fitness.  Adaptation phase brings you slowly back into training from your off-season.  Base phase consists of easy and longer workouts to build up your aerobic base.  Build phase continues to build off that base and incorporates more speed work and intensity to increase your speed and endurance.  Race phase contains your most intense training sessions leading up to your race, but also incorporates at least a week or two of tapering depending on the distance you are racing.  Tapering is reducing your training volume and intensity so your body can absorb your very intense race phase training so that you reach your peak fitness on race day.

With this method, you basically break up your year into five phases of training of nine-weeks each.  The remaining weeks in the year are used for whatever you want.  Each nine-week “macrocycle” contains three “microcycles” within.  The microcycles consist of a moderate week, a maximum week, and then a recovery week.  This allows you to start out pretty hard, max out the next week, then recover the third week.  Some athletes can do a three-week build then one recover, while others might need to recover after each hard week of training.  It really depends on the athlete but a two-on, one-off scheme seems to work for most.  By increasing your fitness gradually in cycles, you can better absorb your training and prevent burnout or overtraining.

Just play around with it and see what you can accomplish this season.  Definitely consult a certified triathlon coach if you are unsure about putting together your own training plan.  Make sure you get plenty of rest and are frequently varying training duration, speed, and intensity to get the most out of your workouts.

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