Texas Triathlon Camp, Part IV

author : tboepple
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Joe Friel - Periodization

*Note, all material taken directly from notes taken, no material is reproduced.

If you get periodization right and understand it and its purpose, everything else about a training plan will fall right into place.

There are three basic skills the triathletes seek to train and develop:

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1. Endurance – the most important                        
    Type of Workout – Long, slow distances
    Benefiting Systems – Heart, Lungs, Blood
    Intensity Level – HR zone 1, RPE 2-3
    Examples – a long, slow easy bike ride, or run, or swim

2. Force (Strength)                                                                     
    Type of Workout – Resistance (gravity, drag)
    Benefiting Systems – Muscle
    Intensity Level – HR zone 4, RPE 5-6
    Examples – weight training, hills, paddles, drag device

3. Speed Skills – how fast you are moving your body parts
    Type of Workout – Short repeats emphasizing form
    Benefiting Systems – Nervous system
    Intensity Level – pace and power are important, not HR or RPE
    Examples – Stride outs (run), Isolated Leg Training (bike), Swim Drills

If you cannot finish a 10K run, you don’t need to work on anything but endurance.
Some people need strength training, others don’t.  Speed Skills are essentially drilling technique with speed applied. Develop muscle memory. You want to practice this at the pace you need to compete at. For example, run stride outs at the pace you want to have to run a complete 10K. This will train your body to move that fast with that skill.

For more advanced athletes, the sides are added to the triangle above (not just the corners).

Muscular Endurance – combination of endurance and power. The most important part of training. You must focus here to improve your fitness and abilities. This improves both your endurance and the level of intensity you are able to work at, so you can work harder, longer.
    Type of Workout – Long Intervals, short recovery
    Benefiting Systems – Lactate Threshold
    Intensity Level – HR 3-5a, RPE 6-8, moderate pace
    Examples – Cruise Intervals (5 x 6 min on, 1.5 min off), Tempo (40 min at HR 3),

                     Threshold (20 min at HR 4)

Anaerobic Endurance – Combination of Endurance and Speed Skills - high turnover for a long time (suffering).
    Type of Workout – Fast intervals with equal time for recovery
    Benefiting Systems – Aerobic capacity
    Intensity Level – HR 5b, RPE 9, fast pace
    Examples – VO2 Max Intervals (5 x 3 min on, 3 min off). For running, this is a hard

                     pace; 20 sec / mile faster than your 5k pace. Primarily for athletes doing

                     sprint or Olympic distances, not longer ones.

Power – Combination of Force and Speed Skills – Work / Time, Force x Dist / Time, Gear Size x Cadence
    Type of Workout – Very Fast Reps, long recovery
    Benefiting Systems – Muscle Recruitment
    Intensity Level –RPE 10, sprint pace
    Examples – 12 x 8 sec sprints, 3 min rests.
    Here you want to develop explosive power – not usually a factor in triathlons.

Plan your year. You have prep, base 1, base 2, base 3, build, peak and transition phases. Do the right things in the right periods / phases.

You should increase your volume of training rather quickly early in a season – up through base period 1. Decrease it once you reach the build period. At the build period, intensity becomes more important and continues up through the peak period. Intensity should be race specific – the intensity you would want to be able to compete with.

Focus on the three basic skills in the prep and base 1 periods (6-8 weeks)
Do basic skills plus muscular endurance in base 2 and base 3 periods (8 weeks)
Focus on all six skills in the build and peak stages of training.

Once you have developed your basic skills, you can cut your volume on these in half and still maintain fitness. At the build / peak periods, you need to get specific about your training – not just long, slow runs, but maybe bricks (bike at good power, then run for 20 min at race intensity). Don’t do actual distances, but do actual intensities.

For C-races, train through these, no rest time before them.
For B-races, take 2-3 days off to rest for these
For A-races take a week off, maybe 2 for these.
Most athletes can maintain a peak level of conditioning for about 2 weeks without a great deal of exercise.

When you plan your workouts, plan them with a goal in mind. Know what your workout is going to be and how it helps you towards your goal (I’m going to bike, doing hill work for 20 min – targeting a race in a hilly venue; not I’m going to try to bike for a while and maybe do an interval now and another one later . . .)

For sprint or Olympic races, you may want to do full length workouts and intensities.

Your training week may take on a cycle of 16-5; 16 days on, five days off.  Maybe 23-5. This is instead of 3 weeks on, 1 week off like we tend to do. This is sometimes easier to fit in all of the required workouts.

If you are going to sacrifice anything in your training, sacrifice weights. You get resistance training in the events themselves.

Do each type of event at least every other day. You can lose the feel for it if you don’t and your mechanics can really get messed up.


Check back for Part V - Lauren Maule, Diane Proud, Tom Rodgers – Women / Masters / Special Needs


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date: September 3, 2004