Periodisation

Marc Evan’s Periodisation Edge

Marc Evans is possibly the first person who referred to themselves as a triathlon coach, as opposed to a swim or run coach that helped triathletes. Marc Evans wrote a number of books about training for endurance events back in the 1980’s and 90’s and was in fact one of the first resources I purchased for my coaching business when I first started it back then. Endurance Athlete’s Edge is still a great resource. He takes a traditional approach to periodisation with five phases.

This is the next instalment in my series about Periodisation (English spelling with an ‘s’, American spelling is traditionally with a ‘z’) and the methodologies from coaches that guided my early philosophies around periodisation of training seasons and event build ups. Have a read of last weeks article about Owen Anderson and what he recommends his book Running Science:

Evans uses five phases to his periodisation methodology:

  • Base periodisation (bp)
  • Base transition (bt)
  • Race preparation (rp)
  • Peak transition (pt)
  • Restoration (r)

Base Periodisation (bp)

Lasting 4-20 weeks the main emphasis for this phase of training is developing a physical foundation for further aerobic and anaerobic conditioning. The focus is on training what Evans calls the O2 intensity zone (or long and easy aerobic endurance training), but with the inclusion of other training intensities. This is also the time to correct technical skills.

The objectives of this phase are to develop endurance and connective tissues; general aerobic development (through the use of long workouts of less intensity); strength, flexibility, mobility, coordination, with emphasis on technical improvements and corrections; and, psychological strategies and practise. There will also be a gradual increase in training volume and intensity, periodic standard tests and restoration periods of one full week after every four weeks.

Base Transition (bt)

Following on from the Base Preparation (bp) phase is the Base Transition (bt). It is a phase of training to transition the athlete to the next phase of training. This is done by reduction in the volume of O2 intensity zone training, with increases in LVT, VO2 and LAC training intensity zones. This phase can last for one to six weeks.

The objectives of this phase are to further develop endurance and connective tissues; and, strength, flexibility, mobility, coordination. There will be an increase in training volume and intensity with a narrowing of the focus on specific technical skill training within each sport; as well as for psychological strategies. This phase will include a gradual reduction in aerobic training with a corresponding increase in volume for LVT, VO2 and LAC training intensity zones. It still maintains periodic standard tests and restoration periods of one full week after every four weeks.

This phase can also follow a Race Preparation (rp) phase for a one to three week transition prior to another Race Preparation (rp) phase.

Race Preparation (rp)

Lasting up to two months the Race Preparation (rp) phase is used before important competitions and is followed by a Peak Transition (pt) phase. More than one Race Preparation (rp) phase can be included in any given season depending on the layout and structure of events.

The objectives of this phase are for more race specific training; it will precede a major focus event; there will be a reduction in overall training volume; there will be further increases in LVT, VO2 and LAC volume and intensity; it will include several competitions; and, restoration periods of one full week after every four weeks.

Peak Transition (pt)

More commonly referred to as a taper it can last up to 3 weeks (depending on the length of the event). It is used for fine tuning the competitive edge.

How long should this phase be?

  • One week = event less than 3 hours
  • Two weeks = 3-6 hours
  • Three weeks = longer than 6 hours

The objectives of this phase are: reduce training volume for the purpose of tapering; increase potential and feel of speed and fluidity; promote recovery and restoration; realise peak conditioning through increases in volume of VO2 and LAC training; as well as fine tune psychological strategies.

Restoration (r)

After every four weeks of training a full week of restoration is planned within the training. This entails a reduction in volume by up to 40% of the previous phases highest week. High intensity training is also removed from the restoration weeks.

These weeks are important giving a much deserved physical as well as psychological break.

The objective for this week is: to restore physiologically; to revive psychologically; increase adaptation to the physical stress; and, to prevent overtraining.

Summary

Evans describes a traditional style of periodisation starting with a Base Preparation phase, before transitioning into more race specific training. Every four weeks of training Evans reduces training load by removing intensity and decreasing volume from the training to ensure athletes can recuperate from and adapt to the stress of training.

Endurance and multisport athletes are a dedicated bunch. Whether they are running marathons, racing through ocean swims, pedaling over mountains, or competing in triathlons or duathlons, most of these athletes are not content just to finish. Their challenge is to cover the distance with maximum speed.

In Endurance Athlete’s Edge, author Marc Evans guides these serious competitors toward high-level fitness, flawless technique, and superior competitive performance. Selected as the USA National Triathlon Team coach and manager in 1989 and 1990, Evans has helped countless athletes move their performance standards ever higher. Through years of working with top athletes, such as Scott Tinley, he has developed a program that produces outstanding results in training and competition.

Here, Evans teaches readers the most efficient swimming, cycling, and running techniques through numerous photographs and 50 performance drills. He includes prescriptions for strength training, flexibility, and nutrition, as well as advice for mental training and race preparation.

Athletes and coaches alike will value the many effective training tables and charts carefully developed by Evans. He provides a series of templates that enable readers to customize training schedules. The result is a week-by-week training prescription for each sport, including what percentage of the training should be done in each of four intensity zones. Readers can simply refer to handy pace charts to match their effort to the prescribed intensity levels. The special, systematic table of periodization makes this difficult concept easy to apply, helping readers to reach peak fitness at just the right time for major competitions.

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