A COMPREHENSIVE TRAINING PLAN

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By Bob Byard
Certified USA-Triathlon Coach and Fitness Trainer

OK, so you’ve heard about some interesting races or selected a couple, and/or have some athletic goals to aim at this year – given any though as to how you’ll get through the Season, successfully and uninjured? You better have a written, thought out, realistic “road map” on how you’ll travel to your destination if you want to avoid frustration, setbacks, and disappointments: get a plan.

A Comprehensive Training Plan is an effective means of achieving the level of fitness or competition that you desire. Properly thought out, constructed and updated, it will get you through the Season, to the finish line “on time”, and/or to the end of the year without injury or discouragement. You can avoid problems in your training by using common sense, forethought, and being aware of progress or problems as the year goes on.

Some of the factors you need to “plug” into your plan for competing are 1) the distances you plan to race, 2) the length of your Season, 3) how much time you have for training, 4) the level you plan to race at, and 5) your present strengths. The some considerations apply to non-racing objectives too; smart exercising requires smart planning.

Begin by looking at two extremes: where you’re at now and where do you want to get to - - what is you level of fitness now (be truthful) and what is your goal in the future? (be specific) Next, think about what it will take to get from a starting point to your objective - - how much time can you devote to training (be realistic), what’s your motivation that will get you through the distasteful parts or times of your training (be passionate), and what facilities are at your disposal (be thorough)? Now look for the scenarios that can impede or interrupt you training - - what are your vacation plans, extended job requirements, or events that can interrupt your training (be comprehensive)? To validate the effectiveness of you plan, select some races, or strength, speed, or distance tests to periodically check your progress - - how are you going to check progress towards the goal (be systematic)?

Having now developed a “strawman” training plan, the next step is to divide up the training plan into different, yet interrelated “cycles.” Very simply stated, you need various “cycle periods” (hence, called “periodization) to:

  1. Build a base foundation for additional conditioning
  2. Transition to increased volume and intensity
  3. Increase race- or fitness-specific training
  4. Peak physically and mentally

Rest and reduced volume for recovery and to prevent overtraining. To guide you through these training cycles, you can use a heart rate monitor, perceived effort or other measuring methodologies to establish perimeters for the various levels of intensity – another integral portion of enhancing a training plan’s success.

Reviewing the training plan regularly; revising it when justified is not only smart, it’s the only way it will serve it’s purpose: as a map of the shortest, most efficient route to a destination - - no plan should be blindly adhered to. It’s a series of actions which require recurring evaluation to check for effectiveness, both if progress or interruptions are encountered.

Train smart and stay safe.

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Clarity, communication, and continuity - that's what's mandatory if training is to be successful and coaching is to be effective.