With more and more races appearing on the calendar it looks like we might be able to plan a racing season!
One of the secrets to success in endurance sport and coaching junior athletes on a pathway is consistency and progression over time.
Its also about athletes taking control, working with coaches and parents, and understanding why they are doing what they are doing and learning to listen to their body, understanding the purpose of their training and how this is linking into bigger, longer-term goals.
I am a big fan of Training Peaks software (TP) as a tool for athletes as they start to move from Tri-Stars into Youth.
TP is used by some of the best endurance athletes and their coaches on the world stage, and it is one of the best tools for managing your entire season and to enable an athlete to peak at the right times, but more importantly, it is an excellent tool for understanding the effect of training specifically to you as an athlete.
The important thing is we do not want to become a slave to data, so like all things, it is another tool that can be used to triangulate other parts of your training to help you build an overall journey of your progression.
Each athlete responds differently to training, some athletes recover slowly, and therefore training needs to be organised differently. Some athletes need far less recovery and perform poorly if they taper too soon into an event.
This is not a good or a bad thing, and different recovery times does not mean you are a better or a worse athlete, it is just about making sure training frequency, duration and intensity are right for you to perform your best.
Probably the most challenging part for any athletes is how to progress training over time and make progress as the juniors go through distinct phases of growth and maturation, Peak Height Velocity and have different training ages as well as different biological and chronological ages.
At Arete, we basically follow a plan that is called linear periodisation. It carries a low risk for overtraining and is excellent at developing younger athletes over time.
As part of linear periodisation, and as an athlete matures and develops, we gradually increase the frequency of swim, bike, and run workouts in a week, then we increase the duration of the workouts. When we are happy with the duration and frequency of the workouts, we look to increase the intensity of the workouts.
The last factor is, intensity and training load, is probably the most significant challenge each athlete will manage. Recovery from training loads and intensity differ between athletes and how you manage this is essential in avoiding fatigue accumulation and injury whilst balancing your needs to being competitive and sharp for races.
As an example we will look develop and progress different abilities over the period of the season;
If we were to put this into a plan, it would look something like this with week 4 in each period being an easier week, and every 2nd fourth week we would look to test against pre-defined metrics: i.e 1,500 Run, 200/400 metre swim, 10 Mile TT, Segensworth Brick Session.
One of the benefits of TP is that it uses TS (Training Stress Scores) and IF (Intensity Factor) for each workout.
TSS and IF were developed by Dr Andy Coggan and Hunter Allen as a way to better understand, estimate and measure the physiological stress (Training Load) of a workout.
It was based loosely on the levels of lactate likely to be generated by the exercise.
Therefore TSS includes training intensity along with time.
It used to be that only training time was considered. However, out of the two factors, time and intensity, intensity is the more critical for developing athletic performance and is the key to endurance success.
Joe Friel, in his latest book, The Triathletes Training Bible gives a rough guideline for determining Annual Training Volume based on hours and TSS.
For a High-Performance Adult Athlete where a race lasts up to 3 hrs, his suggestion is 400 - 800 Annual Hours reflected in an Annual TSS score of 20,000 - 40,000.
If you took this at the top end, it would mean on average 7 1/2 hrs to 15hrs per week with a weekly TSS score of between approximately 400 and 800 a week, For a High-Performance Fully Mature Adult Athlete.
As a coach and an athlete, one of the goals between us is to work out what TSS score is appropriate for you to develop the attributes, to hit the key metrics, times and skills that you need to be competitive and transition through the various different stages and pathways on your journey.
Training Peaks is another great tool in both our armoury to help you on your way.