There is no magic formula to help you achieve your desired goals however success in triathlons, or the lack of it, is determined by how you blend the stresses of frequency, duration and intensity into a comprehensive plan while taking into consideration the training principles of progressive overload, specificity, reversibility and individuality.
Most triathletes follow one training system or another by the mere fact that their workouts progress from day to day, whether it’s a random system, mixed system or a periodization one.
In random training, the triathlete does what s/he feels like doing every day with little or no forethought when making the decision. In mixed training, the athlete puts more thought into what to do on daily basis. On the other hand, periodization is a training concept in which the training season or annual training plan is divided into periods, in each period the triathlete focuses on improving a specific aspect of fitness while maintaining the gains made in previous periods. Even though periodization is quite effective in producing fitness peaks at the right times while preventing overtraining and burnout, it is not the only path to peak performance. Training by following the concepts of periodization is, however, the most likely way known today to achieve athletic success.
Periodization is not just dividing the annual training plan into periods, it also employs the training principles of specificity, individuality, reversibility and progressive overload.
Principle of specificity:
training should progress from the general to the specific.
Principle of individuality:
training should emphasize the unique needs of the triathlete. For example, early in the season a triathlete needing greater swimming strength may work with weights to develop general fitness. Later in the season, and closer to the target race, this triathlete should spend more time simulating race intensity and less time working with weights.
Principle of reversibility:
workouts should be arranged in such a way that fitness gains achieved in earlier phase of training are maintained.
Progressive overload principle:
arranging workouts that address new elements of fitness and improve them gradually.
While following a periodization plan may help you achieve your goals, it should be used only as a road map and not as a formula – Flexibility and willingness to change are essential to achieving your desired goal(s).
By Talal Almoallem
Certified Ironman Coach
ASCA Level 3 Swim Coach