Periodisation of a Season

There are a number of methods to periodise a training build up for an event. Some of the more prominent coaches and academics in this area include Tudor Bompa, Joe Friel & Jon Ackland. They have all written numerous books on the subject. The key aspect they all share is that you start off with general conditioning and then progress the training volume as you move closer to your major events of the season. As you move closer to these events more and more specific training is included. Intensity of training becomes more race like, the closer you get to your main race(s) and training volume is decreased (but not the intensity) as you get closesr to your major race(s).

Tri Training NZ
Jack Daniels, PhD

The philosophy and processes I use with my Qwik Kiwi athletes is based heavily on that of Jack Daniels, PhD (no not that Jack!!!!!!).  Jack has worked with a range of runners as a coach and as an academic since the 60’s and has developed what is known as the VDOT system in the Daniels’ Running Formula. As an athlete he competed at the Olympics and has coached recreational athletes through to Olympic level athletes, as well as being declared the “World’s Best Coach” by Runner’s World Magazine. What Jack does is break the season into four phases:

  • Phase I: Foundation training and Injury prevention (FI)
  • Phase II: Early Quality (EQ)
  • Phase III: Transition Quality (TQ)
  • Phase IV: Final Quality (FQ)

During each phase you have specific goals and aims of physiological development that we try to achieve. These will vary depending on what you are preparing for. Early Quality will look a lot different if you are trying to run 5km in under 16 minutes compared to if you are training to complete an Ironman.

Typically a season will be about half a year long to allow you a couple of build ups in a season. This will give six weeks training in each of the above phases.

Foundation training and Injury prevention (FI) Phase

During this phase you are preparing your body for the training that will come in the following weeks. You will be strengthening the connective tissues of your body so that when we load them up a little bit more during the quality phases they are strong enough to handle the loads given to them. Your muscle cells will be adapting  and we also start developing your aerobic base of fitness that will grow over the following phases.

This phase is primarily based around steady intensity efforts of a sustained duration that produce many desirable cellular adaptations in the muscles, heart and lungs which will make you more efficient. If training load is increased too quickly during this phase the body can often get burnt out if it isn’t ready for that much training load. I emphasis caution in this phase. Being slightly under-done in this phase results in  better results come the end of the FQ phase than if you over do it here.

Early Quality (EQ) Phase

This is a great opportunity to develop your economy and efficiency as well as some speed to get you prepared physically and mentally for the phases that follow.

Training during this phase is a step up in both duration and intensity from what was completed in the FI phase.  It will be getting you ready to handle the training load in the TQ phase. If there isn’t enough time to do any or much in this phase it will be minimised or missed out of shorter programmes.

Transition Quality (TQ) Phase

This is the toughest and most demanding of the training phases concentrating on long intervals. What is long for you and your events will vary depending on what your goals are.

Workouts in this phase build on what you have done previously. For this reason if key sessions are missed in the EQ phase I’ll often move them over into this phase so ensure we aren’t jumping ahead too far. Here we are optimising the components of fitness that are key to your primary event.

Final Quality (FQ) Phase

The best way to develop in this phase is from races and race-like training. Of course we need to recover more from training like that and once again it will all be dependant on your goals.

This phase is geared towards preparing for actual race conditions – intensity (& duration if not too long e.g. Ironman or marathon).

Planning the weeks

When there is enough time to plan a 24 week build up doing six weeks in each phase is great, but in very rare cases we manage to plan something with exactly 24 weeks to go. If you are lucky enough to be planning more than 24 weeks out from a major event we can spend more time in the FI phase and develop a very effective aerobic base, however more often or not there is less time than the 24 weeks. Here is a handy wee chart that is adapted from Jack Daniels’ book Daniels’  Running Formula.

No of Weeks

FI

EQ

TQ

FQ

1

1

2

2

3

3

4

3

1

5

3

2

6

3

3

7

3

1

3

8

3

2

3

9

3

3

3

10

3

1

3

3

11

3

2

3

3

12

3

3

3

3

13

4

3

3

3

14

4

3

4

3

15

4

3

5

3

16

4

3

6

3

17

4

3

6

4

18

4

4

6

4

19

4

5

6

4

20

4

6

6

4

21

5

6

6

4

22

5

6

6

5

23

6

6

6

5

24

6

6

6

6

If you have only got two weeks to prepare for an event you are best focussing your training on the FI phase. If however you have say……17 weeks to prepare then spend the first 3 weeks in the FI phase, then 3 weeks in the EQ phase, then 6 weeks in the TQ phase then 4 weeks in the FQ phase.

An overall training plan needs to build through the various phases of training in sequence to allow appropriate adaption in the time frame available. Following Jack Daniels’ methodology and adapting it for cyclists, triathletes and mountain bikers based on their personal goals I have been successfully planning the build ups of many athletes over many distances for a few years now. Previous to that I was heavily influenced by Jon Ackland and Joe Freil (and Tudor Bompa). What Jack Daniels does is give more detail but still follows the same principles of the other gurus of periodisation.

If you would like further advice feel free to contact Coach Ray.

Coach Ray is the Head Coach & Director of Qwik Kiwi – Endurance Sports Consultant.

Coach Ray specialises in assisting first timers and recreational athletes to achieve their sporting goals. He can be contacted at www.qwik.kiwi, ray@qwikkiwi.com and 021 348 729. Make sure you sign up to his monthly informative newsletter.

Share this post so your friends can benefit as well.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *