Last week we had a look at Early Race season training and this weeks’ post I will expand on this topic by looking at how to assign your training time optimally in order to develop your fitness to the levels necessary to reach your racing goals in the Competition season.

Joe Friel has developed a very eloquent, yet simple, method of assigning training volumes to training in his model of Periodization.

The focus of your training over the past 2 – 3 months has been shifting away from developing the “general” fitness.

These elements of “general fitness” are considered the foundation for the development of strong race performance in Competition season.

As we move into the race phase, your training will move from the "general conditioning" approach, to more race specific sessions, allowing you to hone your race specific competencies, necessary to compete at your highest level possible.

Remember that each one of you will have different levels of fitness, levels of experience and different goals for your races and events. Keep this in mind as you read this post because each one of you has very individual requirements to fulfil with regard to your training.

For example, as a novice cyclist, riding in your first century bike race, the main focus of your training should be on finishing the race. Having developed a powerful sprint will not help you reach the finish line.

Remember the Base Phase of your training? The focus was on developing your Aerobic engine, with the majority of the training being used to lay an excellent fitness foundation onto which you built your Anaerobic capacities through the Pre-Season.

As we move into Early race season, the structure of a typical training week continues to change, and will be divided into 2 parts.

Part 1: Maintaining the general fitness gains you developed earlier in the year -
• Aerobic maintenance: around 20% - 30% of your weekly training time working below your Anaerobic Threshold, in your Aerobic Training zones
• Muscular force work: around 10% of your weekly training time committed to developing the muscles ability to generate force, for example while running up a hill.

Part 2: Developing and enhancing your race specific competencies
(competencies being not just cycling and racing skills, but your racing fitness too.)

To realize this outcome, you will need to increase the time you commit to:
Anaerobic Endurance: This is a combination of Speed work and Endurance training, the purpose of which is to ensure your muscles are as fatigue resistant as possible, while working big gear ratios. Time Trialling would be a good example of this.
20% – 30% of your training time should be committed to enhancing your Anaerobic Endurance.
Muscle Endurance: The result of a combination of Endurance training and Power work, this training will allow you to maintain a steady output throughout your event, necessary to meet your racing outcomes, for example a sub 60 minute 10km running race.
25% - 30% of your training should be committed to enhancing your Muscle Endurance
• Power: A Combination of Force and Speed gives an increased ability to generate maximal force in the shortest time possible. Think of sprinters at the end of a long bike race.
10% – 15% of your training should be committed to enhancing your Power generating capacity.
Obviously, the profile, demands and ultimate goals of your A race (Flat, Hilly, Short, Long, time, race position etc ), will dictate which elements of your conditioning you will pay a little more attention too compared with the other.

The guidelines presented above are all well and good in theory. They follow very logical and to some, even an obvious training progressions.

The challenge truly starts when attempts are made to turn these theoretical guidelines into sound and practical applications / training sessions.

In next post on Early race season training I will present a few options that will hopefully make this a little less confusing.

James Greenwood is a competitive tri and multisport athlete currently training for Ironman Canada 2009. A level 1 Triathlon Coach, he holds a post graduate degree in Exercise Science, and is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist through the NSCA. James is also currently the resident health and fitness programs expert at, and has starred in a number of multisport specific fitness videos.
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