By USA Triathlon Coach Ken Johnson

Periodization is a "time management" technique of training, where the training year is divided into specific periods related to the athlete's racing plans. Each period has a distinct area of fitness to improve, while maintaining the fitness levels achieved in previous periods. The basic principles of periodization are:

There are several blocks of time, or periods, within a periodization plan. These include:

The mesocycle periods are often referred to as:

  1. General Preparation: Prep, Base 1, Base 2, Base 3. Develop basic aerobic endurance, muscular strength, speed, and sports specific skills. May be four to 16 weeks in duration, and the macrocycle may have more than one general preparation period.
  2. Specific Preparation: Build 1, Build 2. Enhance the systems needed for key races, which may include the advanced training abilities of muscular endurance, anaerobic endurance, and power. Duration is generally four to twelve weeks.
  3. Pre-competition: Peak. Peaking for key races, when frequency and duration of workouts lessens but intensity is maintained. May last one to four weeks.
  4. Competition: Race. The reason for training. This period emphasizes rest, maintenance of systems, and psychological preparation for the race. Usually a one week period before the major race, but may be multi-week if more than one key race occur close together.
  5. Transition: Transition. Time to rest and rejuvenate from competition, psychologically and physiologically. The athlete remains active, but with reduced workout hours and unstructured training - often with activities other than swimming, biking, and running. Generally lasts one to six weeks.

A typical yearly training plan might look something like this:

Prep: 18 weeks
Base 1: 4 weeks
Base 2: 4 weeks
Base 3: 4 weeks
Build 1: 4 weeks
Build 2: 4 weeks
Peak: 2 weeks
Race: 1 week
Transition: 1 week
Base 3: 4 weeks
Peak: 2 weeks
Race: 1 week
Transition: 3 weeks

In this example, the athlete has two "A" races that are separated by 8 weeks. Each race week includes a transition; after the first A race the Base 3 training is repeated, followed by another peak and race week.

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