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Peaking for races vs "always fit"
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In past seasons I've followed a tradional build up and peak for a late spring race, then rest for a couple of weeks then another shorter build up and then peak. I've had success with this but I typically don't race during the off times due to being not in peak shape.

I've also noticed some people seeem to race year round. While their peaks are not as high as mine might be their valleys are no where near as bad as mine.

In an effort switch it up this year I'd like to try the "always fit" model. I now my peaks wont be as high but I'd like to race more and often.

How do these people structure their seasons?? Intervals all year?? I'd like some ideas as I'd like to try it. I know the possibility for burnout is higher but to me it's a risk I'm willing to take.
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Re: Peaking for races vs "always fit" [Mr Ramone] [ In reply to ]
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Hey, i am in Australia so my season is a bit different but this is how mine is set out atm
My first season race is this weekend, Half ironman
I race another half ironman 4 weeks later
I then do 70.3 Geelong in Feb, then half ironman in May then 70.3 in the USA in June. Break june July
Race again in August and so on. so my break is june july
I have a few minor races which i call training events blended in which really means you don't taper for them
Don't know if this helps but feel free to ask
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Re: Peaking for races vs "always fit" [Mr Ramone] [ In reply to ]
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I would argue that the best goal is to not be "flat" in your performance (even if you define flat as "always fit") but to minimize the difference between your peaks and your valleys; there is a difference.

There are ways of doing this, of course, with both classic- and non-linear periodization models. But the specifics are unique to every athlete, and it's always a delicate balance to prevent overtraining!
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Re: Peaking for races vs "always fit" [jvinciqu] [ In reply to ]
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Thanks for the input... as a follow up--how long can someone realistically hold a peak?? Could I say race 6-8 weeks from Mid May to early June, then take July easy then another peak August to mid September??

I sometimes get to hung up on what "cycle" I'm in and only race when my ATP say's I'm in Peak or Race weeks---
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Re: Peaking for races vs "always fit" [Mr Ramone] [ In reply to ]
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I like the mental break of an off season, so I have a lengthy one. I tend to work on some aspects of the sport, but without pressure or goals. This winter I plan to up my swim volume to see if I can broker some more time in the swim, and try to maintain more high quality run fitness than past years, since I am planning shorter events next year and need to be faster - I think I will backcountry and x-country instead of bike much, this winter.

When I start my regiment in the spring, I tend to have a long build block, a plateau block where I structure in speed and endurance weeks with phased specificity, rest weeks and more frequent racing, and finally a taper phase for my year end target race. I tend to see improvement over the course of the year and can typically nail my target race(s) with good to great efforts, for me. So, obviously I work off the taper and peak method you described....I might ultimately do better physically with more year round consistency, but I think if you do other stuff and don't let your fitness slide it doesn't matter much, and the break is very helpful to me mentally. Plus I've noticed the last few years that I have been consistently racing that I start the new year faster and fitter then the start of the previous year, so there is some long term integrated building going on.

I think a long "peak" as you describe it is difficult to maintain. You are either building up or breaking down. A peak captures the intersection of both, so you have a short moment in time where you have both high fitness with high recovery and thus perform well over a very short period. Trying to maintain it longer means you will have to sacrifice either fitness or rest - however it could depend on the type of racing your are planning on doing....if the first peak revolves around a couple of long events, and the second peak is shorter stuff, you could realistically trade endurance for speed as you transition from the first peak to the second, thus acheiving potential success over both time frames, but I see this as two different cycles, a build-endurance cycle, transition, power-speed cycle rather than two peaks.
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Re: Peaking for races vs "always fit" [Mr Ramone] [ In reply to ]
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I think if you are a non-super-serious age grouper you can probably hold your training load near its peak all years no problem.



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Re: Peaking for races vs "always fit" [Mr Ramone] [ In reply to ]
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I enjoy training and train year round. I change intensities and volume through the year depending on what distance I'm building towards, but I'm doing swim/bike/run year round. I've found -- for ME -- a true break isn't beneficial. That's not to say I don't have periods when volume AND intensity are lower or periods when I focus more on one sport, but I never take an extended break like some do. I've tried it. Doesn't work well for me.


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Re: Peaking for races vs "always fit" [Mr Ramone] [ In reply to ]
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In Reply To:
How do these people structure their seasons?? Intervals all year??[/quote]
Mine, in general:

winter: swim season. Keep the run volume up, ride 2x a week, but swimswimswimswimswimswimswim.

spring: less swimming, more cycling, still running.

summer: see above. taper for a HIM in early summer, would have done another at the end of summer but got hurt.

fall: train as much as I can on the bike outside before winter hits because fall cycling in Maine is nice and I start thinking about how miserable the trainer will be all winter (I kind of like it but it is nothing like island cycling). Run lots. Increase swim volume for swim season. Lots and lots of local road races.

This year I'm going to try and swim taper for the first time... I'm 2 weeks away from swim taper. Apparently I'll also have to cut back on the running for this to be effective :P

As for intervals all year: in the pool, yes. Running, I haven't done a track workout in my life. Bike, random intervals on the trainer.

I kind of figure this out as I go

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Re: Peaking for races vs "always fit" [Mr Ramone] [ In reply to ]
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I enjoy the training, so I'm "always fit," but I find periodization helpful for fitness, psyche and family. Since its fall, I coached my son's soccer team, mountain biked, and hung the tri bike up on the wall. I'm hitting the weights now to maintain muscle mass as I'm get older, not younger. After 8 weeks of no road riding due to schedule constraints etc, I felt crappy for the first 2 rides, now I'm back to feeling like my usual self. I'm not a pro coach or anything like that, but I think the injury issues creep in with high volume and high intensity training, especially for running. Swimming and biking are easier on the body, so the intensity mostly just adds fatigue.

I'll do a few road races this winter, but not kill myself to be super fit. The winter & spring are mostly endurance workouts, but I'll increase the intensity and duration of the intervals as I get closer to my season goals in May. Easier June, then "peak" again for September HIM. Overall I periodize to get some rest/recovery after training blocks.

my $0.02
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Re: Peaking for races vs "always fit" [Mr Ramone] [ In reply to ]
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Being always fit really means they didn't have such a huge drop off in fitness over the winter. It didn't take them 2-4 months to gain that fitness back.

I think you maybe be trying to figure out how to better plan your season.

Your peaks may actually be higher but your lows not as low due to the fact that you are more fit instead of trying to cram for an A race.

Most people screw up peaking anyway. I'd argue that the always fit approach will yield better, more consistent racing throughout the season and probably bigger PB's then someone trying to "peak" for an event.

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Re: Peaking for races vs "always fit" [Mr Ramone] [ In reply to ]
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I just try to stay in shape 12 months a year. I swim 5 days a week, 12 months a year. I try to bike and run at least 3 days each during the week, 12 months a year. The change I am doing this off season is I train 10 to 15 hours during the week, but am taking weekends off to work on the house. (Training would be easier!!!!) I have no idea what a peak is, but I also have no idea what a valley is. Staying in shape, like not gaining weight, is a year round effort. Racing is just something to do after the fact.

Dave

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Re: Peaking for races vs "always fit" [h2ofun] [ In reply to ]
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I'm also a love to train guy as opposed to love to race. For me it's all about the training, so I train year round. The only big difference would be speed work as I build toward a race.

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Re: Peaking for races vs "always fit" [Mr Ramone] [ In reply to ]
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Gordo Byrn preaches the idea of the Basic Week for triathlon training year-round fitness. He has a ton of info on his website.
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Re: Peaking for races vs "always fit" [Mr Ramone] [ In reply to ]
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to achieve your maximum level of success, you have to blend both.

You have to get out of shape and let your body recover, but but you can't get so unfit that it takes months to get back to the mark.
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Re: Peaking for races vs "always fit" [Mr Ramone] [ In reply to ]
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The problem with "always fit" is that you'll never peak. I am not a physiologist.....well read, sometimes coached...yadda yadda yadda so take this as "For What It's Worth"

It really depends on your goals. If you want to be at a fitness level that you could race a half mary at any given time with no additional training and turn in a respectable time then the "always fit" method works. If you want to smash some PR's and move to the front of the pack then "peaking" will be necessary. The problem with peaking is it nearly impossible to hold that level of fitness. And to peak at a higher performance level with out a break in between is probably impossible.

You can peak more than once per season and you can reach a peak higher than your last. This will raise your "base fitness" level. I think it would be difficult to increase your "always fit" level without doing the type of training you would do to peak for a race.......I also think your peaks and valleys are going to be determined by your "rest" periods. Once you reach a new fitness level, maintaining it does not require near the effort it did to get there.

I've always raced between peaks. You just have to understand this is not your "A" race and to treat it like a training day.

Good Luck with your training!



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Re: Peaking for races vs "always fit" [Mr Ramone] [ In reply to ]
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Triathletes many times get the advantage of specific preparation for their races. With some small tweaks to your ATP you could race every weekend - difference being that now your races are your training and priority during the week is recovery from the races (you may be able to do some intensity mid-week also - depending on your tolerance.)

Recovery is the most important thing. This is basically a cycling scheme - do your training, get your fitness in the bank, and then race consistently.

Have fun
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Re: Peaking for races vs "always fit" [drfunk000] [ In reply to ]
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Alan Couzens just posted a relevant article about peaking:

http://alancouzens.blogspot.com/...tness-v-fatigue.html

Nice distinction between "Fitness" and "Performance"
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Re: Peaking for races vs "always fit" [desert dude] [ In reply to ]
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Listen to Desert Dude. He is wise......

In Reply To:
Being always fit really means they didn't have such a huge drop off in fitness over the winter. It didn't take them 2-4 months to gain that fitness back.

I think you maybe be trying to figure out how to better plan your season.

Your peaks may actually be higher but your lows not as low due to the fact that you are more fit instead of trying to cram for an A race.

Most people screw up peaking anyway. I'd argue that the always fit approach will yield better, more consistent racing throughout the season and probably bigger PB's then someone trying to "peak" for an event.
Last edited by: TheBorg: Nov 18, 08 15:54
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