Wednesday, April 1, 2009


Many athletes and coaches in Malaysia always didn't see a periodization in clear way. They keep training at maximum level, and aspect too much from their athletes in each competition around the year.

What is this Periodization we keep talking about? How do I use it if I can’t even spell it? Why is it important? I’m glad you asked.

You want to get fast, right? If you wanted to, you could go out and do the same workouts day in and day out for the whole season. If you did, you’d get very good at that workout and would be fast for that specific distance and course. You would, however, most likely get burned out, get injured, and would not improve overall race fitness. Or you could just do longer workouts as the season progresses, but then you’d be good at going long but not at being fast. These don’t make a whole lot of sense if you want to race. Or you could train like we used to—the “what do I want to do this morning?” plan. Even with goals of losing weight the best option is to train smartly rather than just train.

Periodization is the organizing of your season into specific phases, each with its own goals and its own workouts. You may have heard the terms before; base phase, build phase, race or Peak phase, and rest or transition phase. These terms are universal now in the training and coaching vocabulary. And they lead to smart training. Whether your goal is to win the world, beat your local rival, or lose a few pounds, periodization is the key to longevity in the sport, injury prevention, and burnout avoidance.

Let’s go through the phases:

Preparation phase is that phase in which you are preparing your body for the rigors of training. You ease into the training to allow for proper Adaptation and decreased injury once you begin. You start with easy weight and Aerobic training in this phase.

The base phase is where you build the foundation of your aerobic fitness. Start at your current fitness level and slowly work up to your largest volume of your season. The vast majority of this phase is conversational paced aerobic work, with heart rates 20-30 beats below Lactate Threshold. The purpose here is to increase Endurance through the building of Power producing mitochondria in your muscles, increase the efficiency and effectiveness of the blood’s oxygen carrying capacity to the muscles, to build lung capacity, and to build muscle in the primary movers and the supporting structures. There are several mini-phases in the base phase, when more intense work is introduced, but the primary work is aerobic exercise. Weight training is primarily high repetition and low weight.

During the build phase, more intense work is brought in to build muscular power, Muscular Endurance, and Force, all allowing for a more powerful run or pedal stroke. This is done primarily through Interval and repetition training, or repeated shorter duration efforts with recovery in between. Aerobic endurance work is continued and you will continue to gain endurance, although overall training volume is decreased. This is also the phase in which you will train more specifically toward your goal race course—hills, flats, etc. Weight training is generally more powerful with fewer repetitions, and fewer times per week than previous.

The peak phase is only a week or two long, and leads up to your primary goal race. In this phase, volume is decreased further, endurance work is limited, and short duration power and strength work is maintained to “fine-tune” you for your race. Work is done at or near goal race pace to mimic racing conditions, and on terrain similar to your race course.

After your priority race, a rest period is important to recover from the months of abuse you just put your body through, both mentally and physically. Take a break from following a training schedule and hang up the bike and running shoes for a period of 1-2 weeks midseason or 3-6 weeks post-season. This isn’t the time to simply get cozy on the couch; stay active in non-triathlon related activities such as hiking, rock climbing, or mountain biking.

With proper season setup, the proper training at the right time, and rest when needed, you’ll have the best season yet!

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