Many of the Endurance Store training programs use the principles of periodization. In this article, Endurance Store coach Roef de Ruiter explains you what periodization is. He also explains how you can benefit from periodization in your own training program.

The aim of periodization: get race ready without over-training

The aim of training plan periodization is to prepare you for your goal race. With periodization, you break up your training plan into different training phases. Each of these training phases has a different focus. In some fases you work on building a base of aerobic endurance or strength. In other phases you prepare yourself for the specific needs of your goal race. Although there are different phases with a different focus each, together they will help you to realize your goals.

Our training plans use periodization to provide you an adequate recovery in several ways. You will vary in the hours you train per phase and in the phases itself. We also use regular resting days. If you take time for recovery, you will prevent injuries. And important: with recovery you will gain results from your training effort. Think of results like building your endurance, your strength and your speed. By dividing a training plan in different phases, the Endurance Store coaches therefore prevent you from getting over-trained or exhausted. As a result of periodization, you know you will be fit and energized. Ready to give your best possible performance on your race day.

Many athletes skip their rest days. However, rest days are as important as training days. Your body uses rest days to recover and build your endurance and muscle. Rest days make you stronger, so don’t skip them.

Planning your training year with periodization

Your training plan is aimed to let you peak at your goal race. For a good planning of your year, there are some things to keep in mind: your current level, your race calendar and the possibility of unforeseen issues.

Where are you now?
Your current level of your fitness and your performance is important to know. You can perform test yourself. We have various tests for different sports in our Training Resources section.

Where do you want to be?
Your competition calendar and your most important race of the year, your A-race. You will build up to this A-race. You can pick more races in a year, but these other races should be less important. Use these other races as a training to prepare you for your goal race.

What if something happens?
Keep some flexibility to accommodate for unexpected situations. Situations like injuries, or business and family commitments. You also need to adjust your planning if your progress develops faster or slower than you expected.

The training phases in a training plan

Your yearly planning has three phases. First the preparation phase, then the competition phase and finally the transition phase. In many of our Endurance Store training plans than span a longer period of time, you will see these phases.

The preparation phase

First of all, your training plan starts with the preparation phase. This phase is usually the longest phase in a training plan. This phase could take up as much as three-quarters or two-thirds of the total length of your training plan. Since this phase is so long, we often divide it in to two sub-phases:

General preparation
During the general preparation you will work on your base. Your workouts are aimed towards building your aerobic endurance. You will also work on your technique and form.

Specific preparation
During the specific preparation you will work further on your endurance and form. However, your workouts are more focused on the conditions you are expecting for your goal race.

The competition phase

Following the preparation phase, the competition phase leads up to your goal race. The competition phase ends with a short taper period immediately followed by your A-race. In the competition phase you practice and test with your race gear, your nutrition and your race tactics and strategy. In addition to your goal race, the competition phase can contain several other races as well. Low priority races will be integrated as a training. More important races can be tapered for. However, keep in mind: everything you do in this phase leads up to your priority A-race.

The transition phase

Finally, your training plan ends with the transition phase. You have done your goal race. This phase follows immediately after it. After a long period of training and competition, the transition phase is your off-time. Take a vacation, relax and sport without a training plan. The transition phase can be as short as two weeks. Or as long as one to two months. In this phase, you will allow your body and mind to fully regenerate for the next year.

Each phase is divided into cycles: microcycle, mesocycle and macrocycle

A periodized training plan is not only divided in different phases. It is also divided into three types of cycles: macrocycles, mesocycles and microcycles.

The overall training period is called a macrocycle. Your training plan as a whole usually is 1 macrocycle long. It consists of all the phases described in the previous paragraph: the preparation, competition and transition phase.

A mesocycle can vary from between 2 weeks to a few months. Each phase can therefore contain multiple mesocycles. A typical mesocycle in an Endurance Store training plan is 4 weeks. During a mesocycle, your training program emphasizes the same type of physical adaptions with the different workouts. For example aerobic endurance, muscular endurance or strength. In each cycle you will build on the previous cycle, gradually preparing you for your competition.

A mesocycle contains several microcycles, each with a duration of 1 week. In this week you will perform a number of workouts. How many workouts, and the length of these workouts, depends on you. The number and level of your workouts will first of all depend on your current level and your progression during the previous weeks. But your time-availability is also important. During the week you will vary between heavy and light days. Often you will have one or more resting days during the week to recover.

Periodization in your own training plan

Do you find it difficult to apply periodization in your own training plan? Almost all training plans we offer use a form of periodization. Our coaches also use periodization in our triathlon coaching plans.

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