How To Plan For a Long Season

Apr 27, 2016

The ability to sustain consistent good performance throughout a long competitive season can be challenging. If you have set major objectives during the course of the year, the tools will need to be in place to allow for peaks of fitness that correlate with those objectives.

'Peaking' for an event is in part an art and a science.  It can be a complicated affair when planning to hit a particular day or week in the best possible form, even more so when there are 3 or more events planned during a season.  Bringing all this together at the right time takes both strategy and planning, being mindful of the following:

  • ·         Specific training sessions based on the demands of the event.
  • ·         A balanced taper to provide both the correct levels of fitness and freshness.
  • ·         A mental approach which will ensure you are focused and relaxed. 


But how do you do that?


Planning is KEY

Being focused on your daily training routine is one thing, but being organised and targeted in your long term approach to the season is just as important, keep the following principles in mind:


  1. 1.      Prioritise 3 major events which will require peak fitness, allow at least 12 weeks between each event. E.g. This could be an event in March or early April, another in July and a last peak for an event in September or October.
  2. 2.      Try and ensure the 6 to 8 weeks leading up to each major event has few interruptions, i.e. Avoid prolonged periods away from inactivity for reasons such as holidays, work commitments, etc.
  3. 3.      In the 8 week build up to each peak build smaller events into the plan as markers to gauge current fitness levels.


Essential components for ‘PEAK’ fitness

As explained earlier, the ability to peak for an event requires combining a number of different components, each person will need to adapt and learn from the process taken as they aim for peak condition. This can be at times trial and error until you have the perfect formula but there are some crucial steps we all must take.

Be consistent: If you want to be successful in sustaining good levels of fitness throughout the year ensure consistency in training, with the focus of staying as illness and injury free as possible.

Build phase: If you already have a good basic fitness and are ready to get to focused, start your training with 4 to 5 weeks of solid aerobic and threshold training boosting your cruising pace and FTP (Functional Threshold Power).  Also take this time to build on some general weaknesses, i.e. if you have a poor cadence then incorporate specific drills during this time. Your FTP should be close to optimal by the end of this phase.

Peak phase: This phase can be from 3 to 4 weeks depending on your chosen event and it is crucial to start looking at the specific characteristics of your event. Analyse the demands and understand exactly what will be required on the day. For example, if the aim is a road race with four climbs lasting three minutes in quick succession, then consider the power and cadence required and the ability to recover rapidly between efforts - bring these three components together in specific training sessions. Focus on the quality of each session and avoid junk training.  Each training day must be specific.

Taper: The taper should be seen as ‘icing on the cake’.  When all the work is completed and fitness is gained, the perfect taper will allow you to see fitness maximised with adequate rest. This is the balancing act required to make it work but normally last’s 7 to 10 days as the event approaches.  One big misconception with tapering is that your fitness can change in the week leading up to your event. Your fitness won't change but your freshness will, and it's why you need to use this time to make sure you are ready to make the most of the form you've built up. Don’t get caught in the trap of thinking one more hard session will help build form - if you do too much you can undermine all the hard work.

The above phases combined will be approximately 10 weeks.

Prioritise rest and recovery periods.

To make sure you can continue through 3 different phases during the year the recovery/rest post goal event is crucial in order to permit your body and the mental challenge to start building again.  1 to 3 weeks of lowered activity/intensity is crucial if you are to maintain the freshness required to hit your aims throughout a long season. Prioritise the rest as much as your training to achieve this and avoid either a physical or mental burn out.

Good luck with your season!

Dig Deep Coaching is a global cycling and triathlon coaching company who provide targeted and personal coaching through an extensive team of experienced Coaches. The coaching ethos developed is translated into various disciplines including Road, MTB, Cyclocross, Track, Sportive and Triathlon.  Guesswork is removed, knowledge is built, confidence increased and motivation unquestionable.  Follow us on Facebook and Twitter #coachingworks

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