Our bodies are a combination of many systems: musculoskeletal, cardiovascular, respiratory, neurological, etc.,. Hence training to perform better at running requires getting fitter on multiple capabilities of our body, such as Muscular strength, Cardiovascular Fitness, Neuromuscular coordination, Aerobic fitness, Anaerobic fitness, Explosive Power generation and more. Improving these capabilities require different types of training stimulus. For example, building muscular strength requires resistance training, whereas building aerobic fitness requires long aerobic runs. In an ideal world, one can train to get better at all the aspects simultaneously, but that is no way practical.
Based on the type of distance training for, and current fitness levels, one has to bring in the right training stimulus and work on specific areas of improvement. More importantly, in order to see effective training gains, rest & recovery also has to be baked into training. In order to reach the peak performance, training has to be planned over many years to gain the necessary physiological and biomechanical abilities to reach the performance goals. Here is where periodization comes into play.
🎧 Science of Training
Listen to our podcast episode Science of Endurance Training, with Coach Ron George, which goes into depth of how the various aspects of training helps to perform better.
Periodization in simple terms refers to organizing training into smaller time periods, while keeping the larger goal in mind across the time periods. Almost all the sports use the periodization training methods.
While the concept of periodization is simple, different coaches use different time periods to plan the periodization training. In most sports, annual training is the norm. In distance running, most athletes tend to follow 6 month time periods. That said, there are plenty of variations, and different coaches (and athletes) plan their training based on the races they are participating in, performance goals, and, other factors of life.
Here are the key principles of periodization.
Generic to Specific Skills - Training to be planned such that generic capabilities are worked on first (form, technique, strength etc.,), and then work on more specific capabilities (handling hills, working on race specific speed etc.,) as the training inches closer to the race.
Manage Training Load- It is also important to modulate the load, to get the benefits of supercompensation. In other words, training easy for few days, after series of harder bouts is important.
Smaller Training cycles- As the name implies the periodization in training is organized as time cycles; Macro cycles, Meso cycles and Micro cycles.
Here is an illustration that brings all these principles together.
Here is a sample periodized plan with a macro cycle fo 16 week duration, with 4 week meso cycles within.
|Week 1- 4
|Speed & Strength
|Week 5 - 8
|Week 9 - 12
|Prepare for the race
|Week 13 -16
In summary, periodization helps runners to break the larger running goals into smaller & manageable cycles, which are easy to measure the progres, as they move along the training. While the concepts of periodization mentioned here are focused on running training, these can extend beyond into other aspects of training such as nutrition, and strength.
Prepared by Team GeeksOnFeet for the love of running!
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