Time to head to the finish line stronger!
In my previous article I covered the basics of periodization, training cycles, training phases and what goes into what may arguably be the 3 most important training phases in any endurance athletes training. I covered what went into Base 1, 2, 3 and the various training factors that are the focus of each of these phases.
While Base training is all about volume of training the next several phases are all about intensity and specificity. The training phases Build 1, 2, Transition and Competition is where the rubber meets the road for most athletes. The prior 12-16 weeks of training all feel like training to get ready for the more intense efforts in Build Training.
The first mistake athlete’s make that are new to Periodized training is that they can continue into the Build Phases of training with the same volume of training. The higher intensities of training in the build phases require less time and heightened focus on recovery. Recovery isn’t just about time away from training. Recovery includes Inter and Intra Recovery considerations.
Inter recovery refers to recovery away from training such as sleep, nutrition and time not training. Intra Recovery refers to the time spent recovering between intervals and work out sets.
Once and only once a minimum of 8-12 weeks of base training has been completed should an athlete enter into build training. While the use of strength training especially when related to heavy weights use to maximize force development in the first several week of base training is when an athlete stands the greatest risk of injury in training. I can not stress enough the importance of completing base training before moving into build training. Not doing so can lead to over use injuries, joint damage, illness and the dreaded early on set of training burn out.
Build 1 is the beginning of your cut in training volume and increase in intensity and should last 3-4 weeks. Once base is completed the first week or 2 of build training will seem easy but do not be lulled into thinking you should do more work! Further endurance development will be a bi product of all training but the primary focus in Build 1 will be Power Development and Anaerobic Endurance with a lessened specific focus on Force Development. I have always likened that the build phases are where athletes begin to lean on their strengths instead of fixating on their weaknesses.
Build 2 may see a minor reduction in volume from Build 1 but it will not feel like it. Build 2 will last 3-4 weeks as well but if your coach is not witnessing successful training adaptations you may be requested to complete another 2 week cycle of Build 2 training. You will train with much greater intensity in Build 2. Just as in Build 1, Build 2 has a focus on Power and Anaerobic Endurance but should also include training for Explosive Power and Power Endurance. While training with weights may be one of the more risky aspects of early season training the use of Explosive Power based training can also lead to injury and great care must once again be taken to not train while exhausted or using poor form. Explosive Power and Power Endurance based training can include but is not limited to Plyometrics, Sprinting, Moto Pacing and even Over Geared Hill Sprints and Attacks. All of these activities done with proper inter and intra recoveries are powerful tools for the development of an athlete’s power.
All of this training by now coupled with what may be weeks or even months of mostly training indoors will lead to over reaching. If the athlete and their coach have planned well this over reaching will not be acute but instead lead to major adaptations in fitness.
To compensate for over reaching athletes and coaches will schedule a Transition Phase just before competition begins. This Transition Phase includes reduced training volume with an emphasis on rest, recovery and low intensity activities. This training phase will last 1-2 weeks and usually leads to some anxiety on the part of the athlete. The transition phase leads athletes to believe that there performance will suffer if they do not continue to train at the former higher intensities of Build 1 and 2. This is where a coach will say, “Wait for it!” Taking one or two easy weeks down will not cause you to loose a great deal of fitness and it will allow you to get your head in the game in time for the beginning of your competitive phase.
The next phase of training is your Competition Phase. This phase of training starts at the beginning of you’re off-season where you schedule the races you are going to compete in and how they should be prioritized. The Competition Phase is less about training for the development of fitness and form but instead is about keeping strengths sharp and maintaining fitness. While it is more than possible to see positive improvements in performance through out your Competition Phase it is also likely to loose some fitness the closer you get to peak form.
Well this has been an amazing journey in this series of articles covering what goes into training for the new breed of endurance athletes. I am sure that this series has left you with lots of questions on how to actually build and even execute your own training plan. If you are not sure you can plan one your self then this is where a coach comes into play.
I hope that this article series has given you the opportunity to think deeply about how you can improve your training and how you may be able to approach your training in a structured manner. Do not hesitate to reach out to me for questions on how to apply anything you have read in this or the other articles.
Have a great ride