The key components to any endurance athletes success in a training program include these four elements:
Bump into any success story, at any level, and these key components typically bubble up into the discussion of ‘how they did it’. This is the backbone of why all athletes should employ some form of ‘periodization’ into their training. You cannot expect an evolution of performance if you simply repeat the same thing over and over again, without a shift in stimuli and load, so it is time for fitness enthusiasts up to elite athletes to embrace the main concepts of periodization.
At purplepatch, we tend to break a seasonal progression into four main phases, which layer onto the back of the previous, and build a ‘season of performance’. We globally talk to athletes about: Build the physiology, then train for the specifics of your race.
You can utilize a similar mindset, even if the goal is simply recreational fitness and improvements, as it is the best way to achieve results. Our four phases progress as:
This is a period of recuperation and lighter stress, which is critical for consistency on an ongoing basis, but also important for development. All the focus here should be focused on form/biomechanics improvements and low-stress training that is designed to gradually strengthen tissue, ligaments and muscles to prepare the body for harder work coming soon. For more on this phase, see Matt’s article “Post Race Recovery Training”
We think of this as resilience development. A progression of load to ‘real training’, but you are ready to because of the preparatory work done in post season. Plenty of strength-based work and endurance in this phase.
As early season racing begins for the athlete, we tend to aim to sharpen up with some more sustained speed and power type training. This tends to be a shorter phase, but with a high speed focus in the key sessions. This means the remaining sessions are very low stress and intensity, to enable best performance when it counts.
Taking up at least 50% of the calendar year, this phase is all about training you for the specific demands of your key races. The key sessions are specific to race intensity and preparation. Of course, if you are not racing, we have a wide range of options to hit here, but some interval work will always be present to continue development and improvements.