Training Planning - Part 2

Recovery Phase

The Recovery Phase is the time needed to allow the body to recover from the rigours of the previous competition phase. Generally, this will be longer the older we get!

Preparation Phase

The Preparation Phase general fitness, increasing strength, VO2, core stability, etc.

Event Specific Phase

The Event Specific Phase has running, running and more running - often working at race pace. There will also be elements continuing on from the preparation phase to maintain other areas of fitness.

Competition Preparation Phase

As the name suggests, here we are getting the body ready for the competition phase – race pace running, cutting out the general work, concentrating on technique

Competition Phase

This is when you race with emphasis on planning sufficient speed work and recoveries, in order to perform at your best.

Many athletes will want to compete at more than one time of the year – you might consider running both cross-countries in the winter and road races in the summer, or you might want to compete all year round.

This is absolutely fine, but you will need to adjust the model above to reflect this. You should be aware that it will be extremely difficult to continually maintain a high level of performance, and that overuse injuries are a major problem if you are racing every week. It might be best to consider which of your most important aims are for the next year / 18 months etc. and build a plan based on that.

You might consider going through all 5 phases twice a year, or perhaps something like 1,2,3,4,5,3,4,5.

The phases (macrocycles) of training are then broken down into mesocycles and microcycles, which are shorter periods of training within which specific sessions are set. They are normally regular in length and should be used to regulate the intensity of the training as well as its progression. A common form of mesocycle would be a 4-week schedule in which the intensity varies according to the weeks, then each week would form a microcycle. At Momentum Sports we often give athletes the following schedule, assuming it is appropriate to the individual (it can be altered if there are, for example, out of season competitions to be taken into consideration):

Week 1 High Intensity

Week 2 Medium Intensity

Week 3 as week 1

Week 4 Easy / Recovery Week

Finally, you will need to plan the individual sessions within these periods. Again it is entirely up to you what periods you use, but generally, doing similar activities on the same day each week, makes finding venues etc a lot easier. You might decide a good structure for your weeks (microcycles) would be

Mon – Short Run at comfortable pace

Tue – Interval Session

Wed – Rest

Thurs – Hard Tempo Run

Fri – Fartlek

Sat – Rest

Sun - Long Slow Run

This particular layout is just for demonstration purposes - the specifics of the individual sessions are up to you and the above probably doesn’t suit your needs.

As well as helping with your mind-set for particular phases of the year this breaking down of a macrocycle will allow you opportunities to test how your training is progressing. At various points throughout the year (maybe at the end of each mesocycle or more often) it is worth including tests to see how you are progressing. This doesn’t mean that you race at every stage to see if you are quicker than before, but you might just test factors relating to objectives for a specific phase - which could be an improvement in strength, or an improvement in VO2 maximum or better technique.

By setting objectives at the start of the year (which can be altered throughout the phases to take into account what has been achieved) you can measure your progression. This means you will know what sort of shape you are in by the time you race and therefore be confident of what you can achieve in your races.

SMARTER is often quoted as a means to making sure that goals are a useful tool. The acronym stands for:

· S - goals must be Specific

· M - training targets should be Measurable

· A - goals should be Adjustable

· R - goals must be Realistic

· T - training targets should be Time based

· E - goals should be challenging and Exciting

· R - goals should be Recorded

For specific testing sessions – see the testing section.

Learn more / further reading

  1. Planning Part 1
  2. Planning Part 3
  3. Running Technique
  4. Training for your Event


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