I am entered in the Leadville Silver Rush 50 mile mountain bike race and probably will enter the 50 mile run the following day. I always map out my year starting in my head and then roughing out the periods on paper. I have been mulling over the structure and every time I get down to details my mind gravitates to Mr. Canova's methodology which in my opinion is all there need be. So I have started to convert marathon workouts over to bike workouts and will be following his periodization. It's been a while since I have written about this so here's a basic refresher.
Introduction: I'm in this period now and need maybe 3 more weeks of solid volume and weights before moving on.
Fundamental: High volume with a focus on building the intensity of that volume, never allowing one to compromise the other. This period has no definite end and simply evolves in to the next period over the course of ~8-10 weeks.
Special: This period, to me, is the most fun. The goal is to start working either side of the 'goal pace coin'. Longer sessions that build in length done at ~95% of goal pace and shorter sessions done at ~102-105% of goal pace. These two workouts then come to together and meet at a focus on goal pace in the next period.
Specific: About ~8-10 weeks in length. Mileage drops (too often I see athletes trying to cram 100 mile run weeks in to their last 8 weeks... that's a mistake) and you focus on building the % of mileage done at goal pace. The goal would be to spend ~8 weeks building to be able to handle very long time trials of 35-40 miles or something like 3 X 15 miles done at goal intensity (for the marathon it would be maybe building to a workout like 3 X 6 miles at goal pace). This period should be timed so that it ends about 3-4 weeks prior to the 'A' race which then leaves time for the taper and peak.
The terms 'taper' and 'peak' are very specific (if you believe in them) to a physiological event. I see so many athletes throwing the term 'taper' out there and more often than not it only shows a lack of understanding of training. If you rest for 5 days... it's not a taper. It's rest. Even 10 days of cut back mileage doesn't mean a taper. In order to taper and then peak (the two go hand in hand... if you want to peak you must taper first and if you taper then you should also peak) the intensity, and less so the volume, leading up to the taper must be enough to stimulate super compensation after the taper. And it takes about 10-14 days of rest before you realize the benefits of a hard session. So if you go out and do a huge workout 6 days out from your race you will fall short in your potential for that race due to fatigue. But I digest...
So for the Leadville 50's this will be the structure of training. What will be fun is figuring out how to train to race my bike 50 miles on Saturday and then race a 50 mile run on Sunday. Having raced a 4:50 bike split for 112 miles and then run a 2:56 marathon at the Hawaii Ironman (16th place) and just 50 seconds apart... I have some solid ideas.