In the last few aging posts I’ve been walking you through how you
can customize your periodization to more closely match your age by focusing on
the recovery side of the training equation. I hope you are giving some thought
to how you can adjust your microcycles
and mesocycles to ensure that you come into the key workouts with adequate recovery. That will
boost your fitness while helping you to slow, or even reverse, the decline in
performance typically seen with aging. And planning based on getting adequate
recovery after hard days will help you avoid injury.
After you come up with a plan it’s critical that you are flexible in
applying it. So what does flexible
mean? It means paying close attention to how you feel. If you are not feeling
rested enough to do a high-dose workout, even though one may be planned for
that day, reduce its difficulty — intensity, duration or
both. Or even consider taking the day off if your fatigue is great enough. Training
through deep fatigue will only result in a poor quality session and more
fatigue – not better fitness.
Periodization is only a tool to help you train more effectively. Too
many seem to see it as a rigid dictum requiring you to do every workout as
scheduled regardless of how you feel at the time. Considering it as such is a
sure way to end up injured or overtrained.
There are a few athletes – and I do mean “few” – who are so in-tune
with their bodies and have such a depth of experience with training that they
don’t need detailed training plans. You may know of a good athlete like this
who expresses disdain at periodization and planning. Yet they do good workouts,
recover well and have great races. Regardless of what they may say, however, they
do have a plan. And they are periodizing. It just isn’t written
down and worked out in detail on a daily and weekly basis as I’ve been
suggesting. It’s in their heads. They know what needs to be done and when. Dose
and density are always on their minds even if they don’t know what the terms
mean. What they’re doing is called “periodization on demand” and “recovery on demand” (here and here) which work well for a few athletes. Most are
incapable of training this way because they give only lip service to “listening
to their bodies.” In reality most follow the philosophy of “never enough.” That
almost always results in breakdowns such as an injury or overtraining when not
following a well-designed plan.
In the next post in this series I’ll suggest an overview to periodization
at the macrocycle (seasonal) level with adjustments made for senior athletes.
By the time we’re done with this planning stuff you’ll be able to train more
effectively and race faster. Hang in there with me. We’re almost done. Only a
couple more periodization posts. I know this probably seems a lot more
complicated than what you expected. But the payoff next season and for years to
come is significant.