Ensuring every training session you do is part of a grand plan is essential. With planning, you'll likely find the right blend of intensity, volume, recovery, and progression to reach your peak on race day.
Periodisation is when you divide your training year into several large chunks. During these chunks, you can focus on improving different aspects of your fitness rather than trying to do everything at once. Periodisation is the foundation upon which everything else is built.
Key Training Phases
1. Prep Phase
This is where everything begins. This period is all about preparing your body and mind for regular training. It should typically last around 4-8 weeks. During this time, you aim to get off the couch and start building some training momentum. You don't need to train too hard yet, but you do need to start racking up consistent and regular workouts. It's also an excellent time to try new things, like new routes or running groups.
2. Base Phase
The Base period (4-12 weeks) can be likened to an Egyptian pyramid: The broader the base, the higher the peak that can be built. The focus here is on endurance training at low intensities as well as speed workouts involving just a few short, high-intensity efforts. You will also include some muscular endurance workouts, consisting of long efforts (5-20 mins) at around 1-hour race pace, with relatively short recovery periods. During the base phase, you can focus on increasing your general fitness.
3. Build Phase
During this Phase (4-12 weeks), your weekly volume builds and key workouts become more specific. Of course, you needn't make every single session race-specific; otherwise, you'll be permanently exhausted. Including some lower-priority races into the Build phase is also a good idea to freshen up your race skills.
4. Peak Phase
The aim is to get the right mix of intensity and rest to produce race-readiness at the right time. It involves doing race simulations with rest or easier sessions in between. These workouts should gradually get shorter as you progress through the first week or two.
Taper involves the last 1 to 3 weeks before race day (depending on the length of your event). The main aims are to maintain your fitness, eliminate any traces of fatigue and prepare mentally. Every athlete has their way of tapering for a race; research suggests that you should reduce the training volume and frequency, but not necessarily your intensity.
1 week of total rest:
After your last race of the season, take a week off to break the habit of daily training and let your body catch up on itself. You can take long walks if you want to exercise during this period.
3-7 weeks of active recovery:
After the first week of rest, you can do 3 - 7 weeks of unscheduled, unstructured, light cardiovascular exercise. It doesn't have to be swimming, biking or running. Work out for one hour or less, mainly at an easy intensity. Take two rest days per week during this Phase. After this, you will be ready to restart structured training.
The length of the various phases will depend upon whether you choose a Beginner, Intermediate or Advanced Level plan and how many weeks you have to train for your event.
This article was based on information from our blog post here:
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