Peaking for Your Target Event
In the art and science of triathlon training, peaking for your top priority event is certainly as much an art as a science. Different athletes respond in different ways to the final taper; and this is where experience and knowing yourself will allow you to craft an effective training schedule over the final weeks before your target race. Nevertheless, there are certain principles that you need to keep in mind during your peak training phase.
The peak phase covers the last few or more weeks before your target race. The general focus consists of decreasing volume while maintaining or increasing intensity. The aim here is to sharpen and hone your fitness. The foundation of the house has been laid, and the fixtures have been put in place; now you just need to polish the fixtures to make the house shine.
There are two common errors athletes often make when peaking for an event. Some athletes mistake the notion of “tapering” for simply taking time off to rest. Although rest is vital during this (and any) phase, remember that the vacation doesn’t start until after your race. For these athletes, too much time off and too little intensity leaves them feeling stale as they toe the starting line.
Other athletes get nervous about the reduction of volume during their taper and feel they need to do more to stay fit and be ready for race day. These are the ones that sneak in extra intervals or extra workouts. As a result, they do too much and reach the starting line feeling overly fatigued. Although maintaining some volume and intensity throughout peak training is essential, remember that your fitness is already in the bank. This isn’t the time to continue making large deposits; it’s time to begin the withdrawals to buy the freshness and sharpness required for peak performance.
Avoiding these two extremes requires balancing your reduction of volume with your use of intensity. To avoid the problem of too many days off, keep the same frequency of workouts throughout the week; but simply reduce the duration of those workouts. This reduces the overall volume while allowing you to maintain your familiar routine.
When implementing intensity, reduce the number of intervals you do. Again, this reduces volume. You should leave the workout feeling less fatigued; and should feel yourself getting fresher and more eager to race as the days go on. This surplus of energy can be difficult to harness for some. The temptation is to do more intervals or go harder during a planned tempo or recovery workout. But this is where you need to reign yourself in and save it for the race. Trust in your training and trust in your plan. You will have time to fully test your mettle come race day.
Peak Phase Sample Schedules
Tables 5-15, 5-16, and 5-17 illustrate sample weekly schedules during the peak training phase for multisport athletes doing two, three, and four workouts per discipline per week, respectively.
For the triathlete in table 5-15, the schedule looks similar to the one used during the build phase. Here, however, the athlete would reduce the duration of each workout. On the days marked by intensity—namely, VO2max—the number of intervals would be reduced over what the athlete had previously been doing during the build phase.
The triathlete in table 5-16, also maintains the same number of workouts per discipline per week. However, some of the workouts (now shortened) have been combined to more closely simulate race conditions. See, for example, the bike/run brick workout on Tuesday that features VO2max intervals. A short dose of intensity on Tuesday is then followed by two easy days to allow the legs to fully recover before a second bike/run brick on Friday. Intensity punctuated by a few days of recovery is the general pattern. Likewise, for the triathlete in table 5-17, the schedule has been changed to balance more recovery with the intensity.
If you are doing multiple races at the end of the season, you can reasonably expect to maintain peak form for up to three to four weeks but not much longer. In between the races, aim for a race intensity workout every three to four days with ample short, recovery workouts to stay loose and fresh.
TRAINING GUIDE CONTENTS
– Train with a Purpose
– The ABCs of Systematic Training
– The R&R of Training
– Begin with the End in Mind
2. Exercise Science Concepts
– Overreaching and Overtraining
– Energy Systems
– Aerobic Capacity
– Lactate Threshold
– Aerobic Threshold
– Muscle Fiber Types
3. Monitor Your Training Intensity
– What is Training Intensity?
– Key Indicators of Intensity
– Using Training Zones
– Training by Feel, or Perceived Exertion
– Training with Pace
– Training with Heart Rate
– Running with Power
4. Create Your Training Plan
– Prioritizing Your Events
– Overview of the Training Phases
– Choosing Your Periodization Schedule
– Filling in the Details of the Overall Plan
5. Create Your Weekly Workouts
– Creating Weekly Schedules
– Establishing and Developing Your Base
– Building Upon Your Base
– Peaking for Your Target Event
– Race Week and Race Day Warmup
6. Functional Strength
7. Recovery and Nutrition
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