Friday, May 23, 2008

Thoughts on periodisation.

This is a picture of my training log. I placed this on the door to our spare bedroom as a reminder of where I am heading. I plan on racing a marathon on December 7th which is 28 weeks away so I have broken my year in to 4 distinct phases of training as per Renato Canova's marathon training principles and a mix of Maffetone principles .

(aka: base training) The first phase is called introduction and is scheduled after your yearly rest period (which should have been no less than 10 days). The main goal is to reacquire good training habits and prepare to train. Training in this phase is all easy (MAF) and cross training exercises like weight lifting are best placed here. You should not be accumulating too much fatigue in this period and the build up of mileage is gradual with a lower over-all volume. This phase should last until you start to see a plateau in your MAF tests. On my schedule I have planned out 10 weeks for myself but that could change if either I plateau earlier or later. I also will shift to allowing some AeT workouts after my body has toughened a bit.

Fundamental- (aka: build period) This period should last no longer than 10 weeks. 8 weeks minimum. Any longer than 10 weeks and you will start to get diminishing returns and lose fitness. This phase is the most critical in moving the athlete towards marathon strength and speed and has me running the most miles along with introducing tempo runs at 2-8 beats below my LT.. shorter reps of 200-400 meters.. and hill work. This period is strength focused.

Specific- (aka: build II) This period last 6-8 weeks and is the one I love the most. Mileage should be reduced to ~80-90% of peak and a great deal of attention should be payed to recovery. I think this is where I have erred in the past. A great % of time running should be at or near your marathon goal pace. Intensity is reduced from the last phase and focus is on metabolic and neurological functions specific to your goal race pace. Goal race HR is AeT (or aerobic threshold and coincides with ~2.0mmol of lactate in your blood) which will (hopefully) coincide with ~4-7% slower than lactate threshold pace per mile. In the previous phase I will have tried to increase my speed at LT thereby raising my marathon pace. In this phase I need to avoid running more than 3% faster than my goal pace or too near my LT- this has detrimental results to a long distance athlete's fitness at this point in the schedule.

Taper and Peak- Too often I hear athletes throw out the term "peak" or "taper".. these terms are very specific to a physiological point in one's fitness. In order to truly peak you have got to be at near peak fitness! It is not possible to peak off of mediocre training.. my goal all year will be to get to this point as fit as I can be. This period lasts ~2-3 weeks and requires a great amount discipline as you start to feel better and better and are tempted to hammer. Strides and two AeT sessions per week is all that I will allow. I may also try to do what I used to for the Ironman and do a reverse taper for 3 weeks- Week #1 would be a huge drop in volume to unload fatigue/ week #2 would be an increase back up to ~70% of peak training/ week #3 (race week) would be ~50% of peak volume.


GZ said...


Interesting stuff. Thanks for posting.

Is there any concern in the base building phase that complimenting that aerobic work with the anaerobic work of weight lifting could compromise the base building?

Additionally, do we know why it is the body does not turn off the anaerobic system fuel use for 7-9 hours after it has been engaged?

Let's jog soon.


Lucho said...

Good question G- There is a concern for weight training in the base period which contributes to the debate about it's benefits. I think an injury prone, weaker athlete should consider the weights and simply allow for the anaerobic stress, the benefits may outweigh the risk. For an athlete that is not injury prone and has an adequate amount of strength it may not be as important, but in my opinion, in can benefit anyone.. particularly older athletes like myself. I truly do believe that part of my injury resistance comes from all the weight training I did during high school football.
The anaerobic metabolism question I'll have to get back to you on.. not sure about that one! But now I'm going to be sure...