Overview of the Training Phases
As noted earlier, you will periodize, or “chunk” your training into three basic phases: the base phase, the build phase, and the peak phase. These three phases represent the base-build-peak progression that takes you to your target event.
During the base phase, the bulk of your training consists of lower intensity aerobic work as you increase your training volume. This establishes your aerobic foundation or “base” and enhances the body’s ability to metabolize fat as an energy source. As you build your endurance during base training, you also want to develop your neuromuscular speed through short bursts of speed of less than 10 seconds in duration with ample recovery between. These “alactics” can easily be incorporated into your endurance workouts, along with drills to emphasize efficiency of movement. The purpose of the base phase is to increase your aerobic capacity and prepare your body for the rigors of higher intensity training and racing down the road.
Whereas the base training phase is marked by increases in training volume, the build phase is marked by increases in training intensity while volume levels off or decreases. During the build phase, more time is spent on lactate threshold work. In addition, anaerobic work of varying intensities is added—especially for advanced athletes or those targeting shorter events.
As the target event approaches, you move into the peak phase of training. The peak phase can be thought of as a more specialized build period where higher intensity (rather than volume) is emphasized. As the race approaches, volume decreases while intensity is maintained or raised. This stepping down in volume helps you rest and taper while the intensity sharpens you for the target race.
If you have more than one top priority race scheduled at the end of the season, a few weeks of peak training might then be followed by two to three weeks in race mode where peak form is maintained between weekly races with high intensity/low volume workouts.
After the season ends, you transition into an active recovery phase. Although time off from the sport is certainly advisable, it’s better to avoid more than a week or two of complete inactivity. Aim for light, easy workouts to remain physically active. To take a mental break from your competitive sports, engage in other activities you enjoy or switch to a different seasonal activity, such as cross country skiing, skimo, or snow biking in the winter. The point is to refresh your mind and body while maintaining general fitness. After all, aren’t you doing this because you enjoy living a healthy, active lifestyle? Use your out-of-season training time to explore that lifestyle further. The off-season is also a good time for multisport athletes to focus on a single sport for a change of pace—either to develop a weak link in triathlon or to learn more about one’s potential in a single discipline through focused training and racing in that sport.
As the off-season moves toward a new season’s base phase, some general preparation work should be done to ensure you hit the ground running when base training starts. A prep phase allows you to transition from an active recovery period after the end of your previous season and prepares the body to return to regular training. Think of the prep phase as a lower volume pre-base training period. Most people who enjoy living a multisport lifestyle easily maintain a baseline level of activity in between seasons, and this acts as a type of prep phase prior to a new season’s base training. The key point is that you need to be ready to handle the training volume scheduled for your first week of the new season’s base phase so you’re not starting from zero.
TRAINING GUIDE CONTENTS
– Train with a Purpose
– The ABCs of Systematic Training
– The R&R of Training
– Begin with the End in Mind
2. Exercise Science Concepts
– Overreaching and Overtraining
– Energy Systems
– Aerobic Capacity
– Lactate Threshold
– Aerobic Threshold
– Muscle Fiber Types
3. Monitor Your Training Intensity
– What is Training Intensity?
– Key Indicators of Intensity
– Using Training Zones
– Training by Feel, or Perceived Exertion
– Training with Pace
– Training with Heart Rate
– Running with Power
4. Create Your Training Plan
– Prioritizing Your Events
– Overview of the Training Phases
– Choosing Your Periodization Schedule
– Filling in the Details of the Overall Plan
5. Create Your Weekly Workouts
– Creating Weekly Schedules
– Establishing and Developing Your Base
– Building Upon Your Base
– Peaking for Your Target Event
– Race Week and Race Day Warmup
6. Functional Strength
7. Recovery and Nutrition
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