On the training camp we had a couple of lecture/Q&A sessions. One focussed on periodisation and peaking properly for a handful of specific targetted races during the year rather than bumbling along without any focus, never really switching off the effort but also never really giving one or two races your full attention to get a really cracking result.
We talked about how you know if you’re peaking. I thought I’d share this with you because it encompasses elements that some of my massage clients and WADAC club members might find relevant.
So – how do you know if you’re peaking? Well, if you’re training for a specific endurance or ultra-endurance event, the training is long and tiring. Despite having rest days and recovery weeks, and despite resting, eating well to optimise recovery (and having lots of massage of course), we are still training on tired legs most of the time. I don’t know about you, but I long for a fresh pair of legs sometimes and to be able to stay awake past 9pm.
But, there comes a time, probably quite close to your event, possibly when you’ve started a two or three week taper, when you suddenly seem to be able to cope. You do a hard session and you cope with it well and feel ready for another one the next day. You hit all your target times/heart rates with relative ease. Your legs seem to be dealing with the load and start to feel good. You are a running/cycling/triathlon god/goddess.
Right. So what do you do next?
Do you think – great, I’m a training god/goddess, I can add more to my training to get even fitter?
Or do you think – great, I’m almost ready. This is a good sign. I’m starting to recover from the training. I want the recovery to continue so I’ll stick to the plan and not add in any more long, extra killer sessions just to make sure. I’ll trust in the training I’ve already done and know that I’m almost ready. I’ll stick to my plan and start doing shorter, more intense sessions to sharpen up before race day, while still relishing that extra recovery time.
Or – are you ages away from your target event, in which case you might be peaking too early?
I’m not setting out here to tell you how to peak or what peaking is. Your coach/training plan should have that covered for you.
What I’m urging is for you not to get greedy when it all starts to go right. More is not always better at the end of a training cycle. You don’t want to wreck all the good work you’ve done so far by going over the top and getting injured or over-trained right at the end. It’s better to arrive at the start line fresh and 5% undertrained than knackered, injured and 0.5% overtrained.
It’s easy to get greedy early on in a long training programme, too. We’re relatively fresh, feel good and feel we can do more. Alarm bells should ring! You’ve a long way to go and the build up needs to be gradual – especially for ultra endurance events like marathon, ironman and ultra running/cycling/swimming. Do too much too soon and your body’s not ready for it and you massively increase your chance of shin splints or other niggles now… and perhaps over-training and burn out later.
So – long live the taper. Let’s embrace the peak. And let’s not get greedy!