Make a PLAN and What is Periodization???

January 28th, 2013 by Mark Olson

In my last blog I spoke about 5 things that you need to get done ASAP, that is, very early in the beginning of your new season (i.e. the off season). These 5 things are very important for determining how to best go about training for the coming race season. The answer to those 5 questions will help you decide how many hours to train per week and what to spend those hours focused on. In other words, those answers will help you build an annual training plan. Simple! Or maybe kinda easy? Or ummmmm, what do I do next?

Building a plan can be easy but it takes time and some understanding of periodization, which I will discuss in a minute. First here are a few things to keep in mind when thinking about planning:

1) Best to work backwards from your first “A”(Important) race. Then work back to the next big race, and so on.

2) The longer you have been training and the more advanced of an athlete you are, the more important the plan. If you are a beginner, any plan will work to some degree as long as you do not over train.

3) Recovery is EXTREMELY important! In general you should build in recovery days every week and recovery weeks every 3-5 weeks. If you are a beginner I recommend at least 1-2 recovery days per week and a recovery week every 3-4 weeks. If you are advanced there are better ways to plan your recovery. I will discuss this in depth in another blog.

4) Have a plan and follow it! BUT, all plans need to be flexible to account for LIFE. The plan will change throughout the season.

5) Build your plan with some structure. Any plan is better than no plan, but with some structure your plan can take you a lot further. This “structure” is Periodization!

What the hell is Periodization? The word is used a lot and I’m sure many of you have read something, somewhere about it. It ends up meaning slightly different things to different people. Here are some concepts that I feel Periodization encompasses:

1) A systematic approach to training

2) Training with varied volumes and intensities

3) Training in blocks of time, with each block having specific purpose

4) Training with a purpose to arrive at your “A” race in the best possible condition to reach your race goals

I think number 4 is the best summarization.

Check out Joe Friel’s training bible books for help building the details of your plan or better yet, sign up for the Athletic Mentors Build Your Own Training Plan CLINIC. This is a very cost effective way to get some coaching help while putting your plan together.

In my next blog I’ll talk about some different approaches to developing periodized training plans and give you some ideas on what to put into those training weeks to come.


Winter Training- 5 things you need to do NOW!

December 31st, 2012 by Mark Olson

If you are hoping to make big gains this winter and to take your performance to it’s next level, there are some key items you need to address ASAP in order to set yourself up for a successful winter training season. A little bit of thought and planning will go a long way by making your training time more focused, efficient and fruitful.

#1 Define your Annual Training Hours

You need to know what your time commitment is. Don’t just be realistic, be on the conservative side. Talk this over with your support team (ie. your better half)! Base it on your biggest week, ex. I can swing a 14 hour week once or twice this season. Write down vacations and other life commitments that will be a factor.

#2 Define your Racing Focus for the 2013 Race Season

What type of racing are you going to focus on? What is the date of that first race? This is important because it will set up your training focus. If you plan to be a crit racer, you will train differently in the winter then if you are planning to race stage races or long road races. Same if you are a Tri-Geek: if your first Ironman is on the horizon that’s a different winter then if you want to rip sprint distance races this coming summer.

#3 Figure out your Weaknesses and Limiters

This is very tough to do without a coach. Being purely objective about your personal strengths and weakness is not something that comes naturally to us humans. The tendency is to always find a way to convince ourselves that we should spend nearly ALL of our time working on the stuff we are best at. The winter is the time to focus on your weaknesses. This is VITAL to getting to a new level of performance and results.

All weaknesses are not limiters! This is important because most of us have limited time, and thereby need to optimize every second. Limiters are weaknesses that impact your ability to get results WITHIN your race focus. Example, if you are a weak climber but your key race(s) are primarily flat, then your weakness as a climber is NOT a limiter. As stated above, you need to understand your race focus to establish your limiters. Then focus your time in the winter on improving those limiters. If you don’t, you will at best get the same results this coming season as you did last season, and the season before that, and on and on and on‚Ķ

You will need to complete some testing to help figure out your weaknesses and to setup your training zones (see #4). Field tests are great and needed, but if you can fit it into your budget, metabolic testing will provide you data that will prove to be priceless in optimizing your time and priorities in training. Our testing partner, Steph Walbridge with In The Zone , does a fantastic job and has a tremendous amount of experience with endurance athletes. I will write a separate Blog to explain why this is so important later.

#4 Figure out your proper training zones

You have to know your proper training zones. PERIOD! Not having and training with them is like being out in the mountainous wilderness in the middle of nowhere with a really great map but NO COMPASS.

Some key things if you are a triathlete, you need zones for run, bike and swim. They are NOT the same. You can’t just do a field test on the bike and use those numbers for the run and swim‚Ķ They can be extremely different for some people.


#5 Write down your Race Schedule for 2013

We’ll talk more later about how to build an annual training plan. You will need everything above defined in order to do that. You will also need to know your race schedule or at least when your biggest “A” race is going to be and your first race of the year. A good sketch of the whole season is nice to have.


Coaches Corner: Inspiration from Coach Olson

December 21st, 2012 by Mark Olson

I stepped outside this morning and the crisp cold air and light snowfall was a wonderful reminder of what time of year it is. Although I’ve just taken a long break from competition, I’ve been training and racing for nearly 20 years now and for me this is the BEST time of the season. It’s not the “off-season”, it’s not the end of the season either. It’s the BEGINNING of next season!Mark Olson

I love that feeling. The excitement of the racing to come, the planning and preparation for the best season I’ve had. I’m going to do everything better this winter! You know the feeling‚Ķ

Fast forward‚Ķ March 16th 2013‚Ķ Holy crap Barry Roubaix is next weekend! OMG! I have no base‚Ķ I’ve done the same exact thing that I’ve done EVER YEAR since I started this racing thing, except I’m even fattier then last year! I’m screwed!

Yes we have all been here! So I’ve decided to try and help all of us ACTUALLY do everything better this winter.

What we are going to do is launch a series of blogs addressing the rather large issue of how best to prepare and train for next race season when you live in Michigan or the Midwest. I’m going to cover a bunch of topics, some short and simple, some at great length. I’m going to cover everything from new ways to plan and setting your training zones to strength training and getting rid of that new 10 pound weight belt you put on over the holidays.

Our goal is to get you motivated and on track to have the best season ever by showing you some different and new ways to prepare and train this winter or at least get your rethinking about doing everything better this winter!

Remember this…. If you train the same as last year, you will, at best, get the same results…

Stay tuned for the next topic….