Update: December 2019
This article was originally written in 2008, over 10 years ago. Since then I have moved away from the triathlon coaching industry’s “typical” periodization plan. For many years I employed reverse periodization as well, especially for long course athletes. I currently use the progression that makes the most sense for the given athlete and her/his goals, years of training, age, abilities, injury history, etc. If you closely look at some of the plans and strategies I’ve used for elite athletes, you’ll see little similarity to what I describe below. However, for the sake of history & curiosity, I’m leaving this article up for you to review. I welcome questions or comments!
Your Steel City Endurance training plan follows a basic structure that is known as a “Periodized Training Plan”.
Periodization is the concept of modifying the focus of your workouts in 3-6 week blocks in order to allow your body to gradually progress through different phases of training depending on your experience level, the time of year, how far you are from your goal race, and what your overall race season looks like. The concept of Periodization was introduced by an Eastern European coach and scientist named Tudor Bompa, PhD. Coach Joe Friel has brought these concepts into the world of bicycle and triathlon training through his “Training Bible” series. Many of the world’s top triathletes and cyclists are coached based on these same principles that your Steel City Endurance training plan uses.
Basic periods include Endurance, strength and skill workouts which occur in the “Base Training” phase and Tempo, Threshold & Power Phases which occur in the “Build” Phase. Base training may encompass 8-16 weeks, and Build training may encompass 4-8 weeks. Prior to your goal race there will be a “Peaking” period which allows your body enough rest while maintaining appropriate focus & intensity so that you can be your best on race day.
A “Transition” phase usually follows your “A” race or your last race of the season and can last from 1 to 8 weeks or more, depending on your plans for the rest of the season or the rest of the year.
Testing and Recovery
In each period, the hours generally increase gradually from week to week and are capped with a “rest” week in which the hours are decreased. The Rest week allows your body to recover from the new demands of training, and enables you to begin the next phase feeling fresh and motivated.
Sprinkled throughout the training plan are testing sessions in each of your sports. These testing sessions serve two main purposes. First, they help you establish your training paces or training heart rate zones in order to make the most efficient use of your training time. Secondly, they provide benchmarks that you can use to monitor your improvement over time. The testing sessions are usually scheduled during your rest week in order to allow you to do the testing in a fairly rested state and thus have accurate results.
I’m sure you will have questions about your customized training plan. Your first stop should be these additional articles. If you still have questions, feel free to contact me at any time about your plan.