Zipp News

Back 8.6.2009

"Peaking Twice" by Mark Allen

Most triathletes have a situation where they will need to hit a big race peak more than once in a season. This can be from trying to qualify for a championship race, or simply because they have more than one event that has important to them in their calendar. I want to give just a few tips on how you can structure your training to be able to have at least two if not three big peak performances in one season.

There are three very basic but essential steps to doing this successfully. The first is to forget about the future and focus on the race at hand. This may seem obvious, but it is not exactly how many people approach several big races in one season. Often triathletes are trying to figure out how the schedule will be set up for the second or third big race when they still have weeks to go to their first big goal. My advice is always to direct all efforts and energy into getting ready for the first race. Thinking about what will come later tends to hold you back from being able to give 100%, one big race at a time. Your next big events will be there waiting when this one is over, and it will be very easy to set up the remaining training once you get past the first goal race. Plus no one can predict how long your recovery will take before it's time to launch your second or third peak attempt.

Which brings me to the second step in peaking more than once in a season. And that is the recovery between events and between big blocks of focused training. There is no formula for the amount of time this will take. It depends on the race distance, the number of years you have raced, your age, and the overall accumulation of stress on your body from all areas of life. But general rules of thumb are as follows:

  • For a sprint or Olympic key goal race usually at least one week of easy recovery training that is not structured will do the trick.
  • For a half IM distance people tend to need up to two weeks if not a little more before they are really charged up and ready to go forward with a new big schedule.
  • For a full IM distance, the recovery usually takes about three weeks of relatively easy short training before your legs and energy are back and ready to tackle a new buildup.

Once you are ready, the final step is actually implementing a training program. The good news here is that you are already in great shape. What this means is that if say you focused for 18-20 weeks getting ready for your first big A race of the year, the second time around you will need significantly less time to reach a peak. In fact, if you trained and focused another 18-20 weeks you may find yourself getting flat before the event comes around. Again, this is because your body is already in great shape and now the first two cycles of training (base, speed) should be shorter.

How much shorter that second peak program should be will be dictated by your race date more than anything. The key is to keep the relative proportions of your base mile weeks and your speed weeks the same as before, but overall the total length will be shorter for both. In fact, in the extreme, someone may do say IM Canada and then be qualified to do Kona six weeks later. This will mean a recovery period of 2-3 weeks fairly easy, then one week of longer base, one week of speed and then drop things down in a very short taper. Perhaps not ideal, but certainly a reality for most.

Best of luck with your Peaks!

Mark Allen

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