The Secrets of Training Part II – Stages of Training

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Discussions on base training, intensity training, peaking and tapering, racing and competition and recovery and restoration.

By Troy M. Smurawa, M.D.
Member AMSSM

Endurance training should be planned based upon five different stages of training:

  1. Base Training

  2. Intensity Training

  3. Peaking and Tapering

  4. Racing and Competition

  5. Recovery and Restoration

Base Training
Base training focuses on overall aerobic conditioning and strengthening. Training sessions should be of low intensity and low to moderate volume. Gradually increase volume and intensity throughout this stage. Weight lifting will help to improve strength and overall fitness. Athletes should also focus on improving technique and form.

Intensity Training
Intensity training focuses on anaerobic threshold training and pace. Training sessions should be of high volume and high intensity. Athletes are more likely to be injured during this stage, and should be careful to progressively increase volume and intensity. Interval (varying the distances and speed) and speed sessions help to improve anaerobic threshold, also referred to as lactate threshold, as well as conditioningand condition the body to train at race pace. At the end of this stage an athlete should be in top physical condition and ready to peak for competition.

Peaking and Tapering
During the peaking stage the focus is on tapering training and optimizing peak performance. Training sessions should be of high intensity and decreasing volume. Speed and interval sessions are utilized to maintain sharpness and efficiency. Lowering the volume allows the body to fully recover between sessions and races. The emphasis is on restoration and recovery from training so that the body is fully rested and energy stores completely replenished prior to competition. About 40 to 60 % of total training volume should be low intensity in order to maintain aerobic conditioning and allow recovery.

Racing and Competition
Ideally, the previous three stages of training have prepared you for top performance racing. During this stage, the focus is on competition and racing. Training sessions are of high intensity and low volume. You should allow adequate rest and recovery time between sessions and racing. You should continue to maintain about 40 – 50 % of training volume of low intensity. Intervals, speed sessions and racing will constitute the rest of your training. The racing stage may last anywhere from 2 to 6 months, depending upon your season and goals for racing.

Recovery and Restoration
After many hard weeks of training and racing, most athletes may become tired, fatigued, injured and unmotivated to train or race. During the recovery stage, an athlete focuses on restoration and healing. This stage is a period of active recovery characterized by reduced training volume, low intensity exercise and cross training. Also, any injuries or medical problems should be addressed and allowed proper healing time. This also is a great time for mental relaxation and time to enjoy family and friends that may have been neglected during intense training and racing. A period of 2 to 6 weeks is recommended for adequate recovery

Monitoring and Training
It is important to have a well-designed training schedule. It is important to take into consideration your level of experience, level of fitness and available time when designing a training program. Do not try to set unrealistic goals given your level of talent and available time. Be realistic and develop training goals that you can obtain. A good idea is to have a coach look over your training schedule to help make the right adjustments.


It is important to be consistent, but not rigid, with your training schedule. Allow flexibility to deal with unpredictable circumstances that may arise such as injury, illness, fatigue, or work and family matters. Monitoring your training will help you detect and prevent over-training.


Using a heart rate monitor will guide you in monitoring your training heart rate. I recommend using a sub-maximal exercise test monthly to monitor training. Athletes run one mile on a track while maintaining heart rates at 65% maximal heart rate. Your time should decrease as your conditioning improves. An increase in time would indicate over-training.


Lastly, triathletes should keep a training log to monitor training. A training log allows an athlete to carefully monitor training progression, and detect errors that may lead to over-training or poor performances. A training log should include both objective and subjective measurements. Include an assessment of how you feel, and a summary of your health and sleep patterns in your training log. Compare your data to previous individual measurements to assess the effects of your training. Your log can help your you detect training errors, or relate changes in your program—such as modification of bike, or, shoe change—to injury if it occurs. It is also a good reinforcement of your training success.

 



Dr. Troy Smurawa is a sports medicine physician that has many years of experience as a competitive triathlete and runner. Having competed in 5 Ironmans and over 30 marathons, he wanted to offer some recommendations gathered from his athletic and his medical experience as a member of the medical staff for USA Triathlon, and, as a USA Triathlon certified coach.

 

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date: May 16, 2005

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The American Medical Society for Sports Medicine (AMSSM) was formed in 1991 to fill a void that has existed in sports medicine from its earliest beginnings. The founders most recognized and expert sports medicine specialists realized that while there are several physician organizations which support sports medicine, there has not been a forum specific for primary care non-surgical sports medicine physicians.

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The American Medical Society for Sports Medicine (AMSSM) was formed in 1991 to fill a void that has existed in sports medicine from its earliest beginnings. The founders most recognized and expert sports medicine specialists realized that while there are several physician organizations which support sports medicine, there has not been a forum specific for primary care non-surgical sports medicine physicians.

FIND A SPORTS MEDICINE DOCTOR

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