Training phases are the building blocks of your training plan. As you lay out a periodized training plan, you will organize the plan across several phases. Each phase has a different training focus.
The training phases are not distributed equally across the training plan; each phase, with its own focus, will be spread across a different number of weeks. Training phases that focus on lower intensity work will be longer, while training phases that focus on higher intensity work will be shorter.
Following the principle of specificity, you will set up your training plan to move from the least specific physiology to most specific physiology for your racing activity and distance. So the way you organize the training phases described below will depend on your goals, as well as your background and prior training up to the start of your training plan.
Before discussing the various permutations of how to put these training phases together, let’s first examine each phase. Since each training phase has a different focus, each phase will target different types of workouts to achieve particular training effects. The different types of workouts use the Alp Fitness training zones listed below and introduced in more detail in the “Guide to Using Training Zones.”
Easy nose-breathing effort. You should be able to comfortably breathe through your nose and tell a long story to someone next to you without needing to slow to catch your breath. Breathing is barely above walking breathing rate.
- If using Friel HR Zones: Zone 1
- If using Stryd power zones: Zone 1
- If using Borg 10-point RPE scale: 4-5
Conversational nose-breathing effort. You should be able to breathe through your nose and hold a back-and-forth conversation with someone running next to you (taking turns to speak). Breathing is moderate and not labored. Once you’ve moved beyond this effort level, you’ve moved beyond your aerobic threshold (AeT).
- If using Friel HR Zones: Zone 2
- If using Stryd power zones: Zone 2
- If using Borg 10-point RPE scale: 5-6
- Intensity at or below your aerobic threshold (AeT)
“Comfortably Hard” Zone
Comfortably hard effort has a wide range and can be split into two zones. At the lower end — where you are below and nearing your lactate threshold (LT) — you should still be able to breathe through your nose (although deep and labored) while your ability to talk will be limited to 2-3 sentences at a time. At the upper end — as you approach and cross over your lactate threshold (LT) — you may be able to say 5-7 words at a time, but will need to breathe through your mouth.
- If using Friel HR Zones: Upper Zone 3 to Zones 4-5a
- If using Stryd power zones: Zone 3 to lower Zone 4
- If using Borg 10-point RPE scale: 7-9
- Intensity below your lactate threshold (LT) for sustained durations
- Intensity nearing or just crossing over your LT for shorter intervals
“Uncomfortably Hard” Zone
Uncomfortably hard mouth-breathing effort. You may be able to say a single, short word, but only if you have to. Breathing rate is rapid with short, forceful breaths. During this intensity level, you are at your VO2max.
- If using Friel HR Zones: Zone 5b
- If using Borg 10-point RPE scale: 10
- If using Stryd power zones: Upper Zone 4
- Intensity at your VO2max