Periodization Example for Hypothetical Triathlete

Periodization is dividing the training year into distinct periods, each with its own focused purpose, with the ultimate goal of peaking the athlete for a few key competitions.  This involves detailed, long-range planning designed around the athlete’s needs with respect to the targeted race(s).  Of utmost importance in this process is planning for adequate rest.  Without sufficient rest, the scheduled workouts concentrating on specific-system adaptation (i.e. aerobic capacity, lactate threshold, sport-specific skills, etc) may leave the athlete under or over trained or peaking at the wrong time if at all during the season.  In order for the athlete’s development to approach its full potential, there must be a gradual progression and maintenance of these systems and skills, which can only be assured if adequate time is allowed for in the annual training plan for specific physiological change(s) to occur. 

Paul is a 35 year old, novice triathlete in his first full season of triathlons.  His athletic background includes extensive weight lifting and recreational bicycle riding.  He has no swimming history and his running is hampered by a knee injury suffered in a motorcycle crash a few years ago.  His main goals involve completing several sprint distance triathlons with an olympic distance event tentatively scheduled for the end of the season.  From his years of lifting, Paul is gifted with power on the bicycle, but his endurance and form (especially in the swim and the run) are highly questionable.  As a personal trainer, Paul’s schedule is flexible.  But based on his relative inexperience and his specific goals as well as his injury history, volume will be kept somewhat low.  Below is a 4-week mesocycle training plan that Paul will follow in the General Preparation phase:


WEEK 1—9.5hrs

                M—off.  Stretching, hydrating well, self-massage, and visualization are all emphasized here and on a daily basis.

                T—a.m. run of .5hr on the treadmill alternating 10mins of walking with 5mins of running with Heart Rate (HR) going no higher than zone 2.                

                Later, .5hr of drill work in the pool building upon skills learned in the previous mesocycle.

                W—1.5hr Bike ride in the a.m. in zone 2/varied terrain/seated on everything/aero position.  Include 6 x 30s max cadence efforts with good form and 3-5mins recovery between each.  Warm Up (w.u.) and cool down (c.d.) appropriately.                

                Later, .75hr of Anatomical Adaptation (AA) phase of weights (as detailed in my book on p. 103-113) learned in the previous mesocyle.                      

                Th—Repeat Tuesday’s workouts.

                F--.5hr of Isolated Leg Training (ILT) doing 1min non-dominant@70+/1min both@90+/1min dominant@70+/1min both@90+ and repeating 5 times through.  5min w.u. and 5min c.d.         

                S—.25hr of running drills (as detailed in my book on p 140-143) before .5hr of running alternating 5mins of walking with 5mins of running with a HR no higher than zone 2.                

                Later, .75hr of AA phase of wts.

                S—2.5hr small group ride in zones 1-3, seated as much as possible, and spinning one gear higher than feels comfortable.  Varied terrain.  W.u. and c.d. appropriately.                       

                Later, .5hr of drill work in the pool.  Include 1 continuous set of 400m done at low intensity with a focus on finishing the distance with proper form.          


                WEEK 2—10.75hrs following the same pattern as Week 1 with the following exceptions:

                M--.5hr of drill work in the pool.

                T and Th—15run/5walk x 2 preceded by .25hr of Run Drills.

                W—include 8 x 30s efforts in the ride.

                F—ILT’s of .5hr doing 2/1/2/1 x 4.

                Sun--.75hr of drill work with 1 continuous set of 500m.


                WEEK 3—12.25hrs following the same pattern as Week 2 with the following exceptions:

                T and Th—.75hr of running (20mins run/5mins walk) preceded by .25hr of Run Drills.

                W—include 10 x 30s efforts in the ride.

                F--.5hr of drill work swim.

                Sun—3hr small group ride.


                WEEK 4—8hrs following the same pattern as Week 1 with the following exceptions:

                W—1hr ride with 4 x 30s efforts.

                Sat—NO weight workout


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