It’s important to ensure that every training session you do is part of a grand plan. Without planning, you’re unlikely to find the right blend of intensity, volume, recovery and progression that you need 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, your aim is to get up 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 a good time to try new things out, like new routes or a new running group.
2. Base Phase
The Base period (4-12 weeks) can be likened to an Egyptian pyramid: The broader the base of the pyramid, 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. It’s also a good idea to include some lower-priority races into the Build phase, 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 to prepare mentally. Every athlete has their own 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 to let your body catch up on itself. If you want to exercise during this period, you can go for some long walks.
3-7 weeks of active recovery:
After the first week of rest is over, you can then do 3 - 7 weeks of unscheduled, unstructured light cardiovascular exercise. It doesn't have to be swimming, biking or running. Workout 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 recommence structured training.
The length of the various phases will be dependent upon on 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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