We like to think about endurance training as a journey – and all good journeys have some kind of plan, otherwise, you will never reach your final destination. To complete this journey, you’ll need to structure it over periods, so you get sustained improvement in performance over time. Starting slowly, and gradually building your fitness, in preparation for your main race.
WHEN TO START TRAINING
Training begins in relation to your main race, counting back from race day in your calendar. The first couple of weeks is not race-specific and is all about holistically building your fitness levels. Then, as your main race approaches, we crank it up and start to get sport and race focussed. We’ll set sub-goals throughout these periods, giving focus and structure to your training plan throughout. One such sub-goal might even be to get into structured training, which we often find is especially useful for people who are new to endurance training.
You must begin your training slowly and gradually build into more intense workouts. You have to give your body time to ease into the workload, or you put yourself at risk of over training, injury or burnout.
HOW TO PERIODIZE TRAINING
You need to divide your season into different training blocks, which each serve different purposes, and all help you build towards your main race goal. Each training block is defined by their intensity and volume. It’s important to remember that it’s impossible to maintain peak fitness throughout the season, thus your aim should be to reach peak fitness at the right time.
BASE TRAINING, YOUR PRE-SEASON
All athletes need a pre-season that is defined by volume rather than intensity. It’s all about building a solid base of endurance, which will allow you to train more intensely later in the season. Just the same as footballers or basketball players need to gradually build their fitness ahead of the real season so too do endurance athletes. If you don’t go through this stage and head straight into intense training, then you run the risk of burnout or injury.
BUILD TRAINING, GETTING INTO RACE SEASON
After the initial period of workouts focusing on your endurance, the second training block focuses on building muscular endurance. This means that you will work out at a higher intensity, and if we add intensity to the training, then we need to take the volume back a bit. Your body won’t be able to go all out during every session.
Your last training block will be race-specific – seeking to help you get into race shape and be able to do each sport at a race-specific speed. The final weeks before the race will focus on form and race prep.
Many people fail to recognize the importance of what happens after a race. You cannot keep your body in peak condition throughout the year, meaning that you have to take a step back and allow yourself to ‘become slow’ again. The aim of your training plan is to peak at your main race. Then, you need to let your body relax and start building your base fitness level, which will allow you to get better.
Original Post totendurance.com