Elite level athletes and weekend warriors alike have to plan to perform at their highest level multiple times throughout the year. For the weekend warrior this might be two big events per season. For an elite level athlete this could be events like the Olympics and World Championships happening just a few months apart. Athletes cannot be expected to train to a high-level and stay there for an unknown amount of time. This is when we must consider mid-season recovery and how to manage peaks throughout the year. Without a reduction in training, we will see an increase in burnout symptoms and over training throughout the year.
For any athlete that’s preparing for multiple peaks in the season, when possible, the goal should be 2 to 3 major peaks in a calendar year — more than this is incredibly difficult to prepare for effectively. When looking at the duration of training windows ideally we see peaks no closer than 12 weeks apart. The more time you have between events that require you to be in peak condition, the more likely you are to be adequately prepared for these events and perform at your highest level. A lot of fans and athletes think of peaking as one single event. This is often not the case especially when dealing with high performing endurance athletes. Hitting a peak can be one to two weeks depending on the sport, the preparation, and the need.
Periodization & Specificity
Athletes of all levels will experience an off-season, base, build, taper, peak, and a recovery throughout their training cycle. Moving through these phases is a delicate balancing act. Volume and intensity must be balanced with technique work, competition schedule, and rest. Understanding these factors and how to manipulate them to get an athletes body to respond appropriately takes a deep understanding of the sport, the metrics, and the athlete themselves. This is where having a training program or coach to follow along with can be helpful. Not having assistance in managing these factors can add undue stress to the athlete. Quite honestly, sometimes the athlete might be feeling one way while the data and metrics are telling us something else is happening.
To successfully compete in a multi-peak season and do so with the appropriate tapering, a plan must be put in place ahead of time. Planning is essential to mapping out training cycles, monitoring the training load, and appropriate recovery windows. While having a sound plan in place is a great starting point, remember to keep some flexibility in there as well. Daily factors always pop up. You need to have enough freedom in your plan to keep a balanced approach.
With high volume training, your recovery and load management are critical to the training process. When working with endurance athletes this includes total load and stress over the duration of long runs, bike rides, or swims in addition to stress factors that are accumulated in the gym, daily life, recovery or other factors.
In order to help offset these additional stressors and manage training load going into competitions, tapering is a technique that is highly utilized. Tapering is typically the term used when discussing recovery in the 7-10 days prior to competition. Total training load is reduced to allow recovery rates to improve prior to peak performance. For example, marathoners will typically lighten their running load the week prior to competition to initate recovery and allow their highest level of performance to be showcased.
Let COROS Help!
COROS technology allows athletes to track training data and outside factors all in one place. Within the COROS Training Hub and COROS App, athletes can track specific training programs, sleep, total activity, supplemental workouts, recovery, and other items. Each of the factors independently can have an influence on your overall training program, appropriate tapering, and peaking for events. With all of the data being stored in one place, it makes life easy for athletes at any level to keep an eye on training and fatigue. Now with the tools in hand, be sure to plan ahead, monitor your metrics, and hit your peaks as you explore perfection!