Friday, 30 April 2010

Periodization: Dividing your annual plan into periods

Periodization allows you to divide your annual training plan into 'periods' or phases of training. Each period will have a different emphasis.

The 'transition' period is a recovery period and occurs after a race and at the end of the season. The transition period will last between one and six weeks. One week after a standard distance triathlon say or six weeks having finished your last race of the season.

The 'preparation' period sees you preparing to train. This period will allow you to work on rehabilitation of an injury, strengthen areas of weakness, improve flexibility in areas of relative inflexibility getting your body ready for the demands of endurance training. The preparation period will last three to four weeks but may be longer (Principle of Individuality!) if you need it.

The 'base' period lasts between eight and twelve weeks. During this period you work on the basic abilities of endurance, strength and speed skills. Training intensity remains relatively low while training volumes gradually increase.

The 'build' period lasts six to eight weeks. During this period training intensity increases while training volumes remain relatively high. This period might also include low priority races used as preparation for your priority race(s). In this period the advanced abilities of muscular endurance, anaerobic endurance and power may be trained depending on the athletes needs. Training is starting to mimic the demands of racing.

The 'peak' period last 1-2 weeks but may be longer. This is when you taper your training to ensure you are ready to race without fatigue. The frequency of training remains much the same, the intensity remains high but the duration of each session is reduced significantly. This drop in training volume allows you to 'peak' for your priority race(s).

The 'race' period lasts for 1-3 weeks. This is the period in which you will race in your priority race or you may have a number of priority races within a three week period. It is difficult to hold peak form for more than three weeks.

Let me give you an example. Say your priority race for the year is the London Triathlon Olympic Distance race on August the 8th. The two weeks prior to this starting July 25th would be your 'peak' period. The eight weeks prior to this starting May 30th would be your 'build' period. This can be split into two four week blocks where the fourth week in each block is a recovery week when training volumes are reduced. The eight weeks prior to this starting April 4th would be your 'base' period (this could be up to twelve weeks). This again can be split into two four week blocks where the fourth week in each block is a recovery week when training volumes are reduced. The four weeks prior to this starting March 7th would be your 'preparation' period. Prior to this you would have your 'transition' period that may vary in length from one to six weeks depending on what you have been doing in the off-season.

This is just an example. Someone new to endurance sport or someone that is stepping up to long distance events may have a shorter 'build' period or no 'build' period at all. Instead the 'base' period will continue up until the 'peak' period begins in order to really establish the basic abilities of endurance, force and speed skills or the 'build' period may only be four weeks long. You may also want to compete in more than one priority race in which case you will have to achieve multiple 'peaks' within the season. This is why the ITU World Championship Series is so demanding.

Reference: The Triathlete's Training Bible 3rd Edition by Joel Friel.

If you need a little motivation click on this link to watch the ITU World Championship promo video for 2010.

See ya! Tim (LFTC Coach)

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Basic and advanced abilities for triathlon fitness

Joe Friel, world renowned triathlon coach, describes three basic abilities for successful multisport racing: endurance, force and speed skills. These three basic abilities form the foundation for successful multisport training and racing.

Endurance is the ability to delay the onset of fatigue and reduce its effects on performance. For a novice multisport athlete endurance is the key to improvement.

Force is the ability to overcome resistance. Developing force will allow you to race at a faster pace with less effort, improve your hill climbing ability or swim against a current with greater ease.

Speed skills are a combination of technique and efficiency and they determine how effective you are when you are producing the movements required for swimming, biking and running.

These basic abilities of endurance, force and speed skills are emphasised at the beginning of every training season before progressing to more advanced aspects of multisport fitness.

Muscular endurance, aerobic endurance and power are advanced abilities for successful multisport training and racing. These advanced abilities result from the development of the basic abilities but are further refined with specific training.

Muscular endurance is the ability of the muscles to maintain a relatively high load for a prolonged time period. It is a combination of force and endurance.

Anaerobic endurance is the ability to resist fatigue at very high efforts for short periods. It is a combination of endurance and speed skills. This is ability is less important for those athletes competing in longer events such as middle distance triathlon or longer. Anaerobic endurance training is also quite stressful on the body and may be too much for some novice athletes.

Power is the ability to apply maximum force rapidly. It is a combination of force and speed skills. Power training is best performed when you are well rested and early in a training session when your nervous and muscular systems will respond better to it.

These advanced abilities of muscular endurance, anaerobic endurance and power are emphasised in the later stages of a training program with twelve or so weeks remaining until your most importance races.

Reference: The Triathlete's Training Bible 3rd Edition by Joel Friel.

The periodization puzzle is starting to come together! Tim (LFTC Coach)

Periodization: Some basic principles.

To understand 'periodization theory' it is important to understand the training principles that form the basis of the theory.

Principle of specificity

A training program will progress from 'general training' to 'specific training' throughout the year. For example, an athlete may want to develop greater cycling strength. Early in the season they might use a weight training program to develop leg strength (general training). Later in the season they might spend more time cycling on hilly terrain while simulating race intensities and less time working with weights (specific training).

Principle of individuality

A training program will emphasise the unique needs of the athlete. For example, one athlete might possess great aerobic endurance but lack speed. Another athlete might possess great speed but lack aerobic endurance. Neither will reach their full potential if they follow the same training program.

Principle of reversibility

Workouts within a training program are arranged in such a way that elements of fitness achieved in an earlier phase of training are maintained throughout the season. For example, aerobic endurance training may make up a large proportion of the early season training program. In order to maintain your aerobic endurance throughout the season, as you introduce other types of training e.g. speed work, your training program will always have an aerobic endurance component to it although it may make up a smaller proportion of it.

Principle of progressive overload

In order for fitness to improve the body must be given new challenges to stimulate physiological changes that will result in improved fitness. For example, if you perform 15x100m freestyle at the same pace with the same rest period all of the time you are unlikely to get any faster over 1500m. However if over a number of weeks you gradually increase your pace during each interval or decrease your rest periods between intervals you will provide your body with a new physiological challenge that is more likely to result in a faster 1500m time.

Reference: The Triathlete's Training Bible 3rd Edition by Joel Friel.

Capiche? See you this Sunday...finally! Tim (LFTC Coach)

Thursday, 8 April 2010

What is periodization?

For some of us, including me, our first race is only 8 weeks away. It may not be a high priority race but a race you have chosen to blow the cobwebs out and sharpen your race skills. So what should we be doing differently in the next 8 weeks? That brings me to the topic of this blog...'periodization'.

Dr. Tudor Bompa is considered a world leader in the training of athletes across a number of sports. He took the ideas of Russian sports scientists conducting experiments on athletes in the 1940's and developed his own theories about periodization in the 1960's. Periodization involves breaking down a training plan into specific periods. Each period will have a different emphasis e.g. aerobic endurance or muscular strength. Periods of relative rest following periods of high training volumes are used to promote recovery so that the athlete becomes fitter, stronger and faster while minimising the risk of injury and overtraining.

An annual training plan can broken down into four or five periods or phases. These phases include the 'preparation' phase, the 'base' phase, the 'build' phase, the 'peak/race' phase and the 'transition' phase. The base and build phases may be broken down further into 'blocks'. For example, if you have an 8 weeks build phase you might split this into two four weeks blocks. Within these blocks you might have three weeks of intense training followed by one week of relative rest with reduced training volumes.

The variables that change within each phase include: frequency (how 'often' you train), duration (how 'long' you train in a single session) and intensity (how 'hard' you train at any given time). These variables are manipulated to achieve a specific training response. The bottom line is the closer we get to a 'priority race' the more like the race your training must become.

There is more to come on periodization so stay tuned! Tim (LFTC Coach)