There’s a good article on trifuel on peaking for a race. I disagree there is “much confusion” (in the first paragraph) but it is a good article on tapering and peaking for your race which you DO need to plan in advance.
Periodization is the science of peaking for any athletic event for any athlete. Periodization Training For Sports is the book I recommend – a terrific read and 2nd edition has information for triathlon.
The competitive season for triathlons is typically May through September. Within that period you might have a race you really want to do well in, often called your “A” race, and those used more for tracking progress.
Periodization of training means planning your training cycles to maximize your performance for competition. You might know this intuitively but did not know there was a science behind it. There is a Tudor Bompa is regarded as the guru of periodization of training. I read his first edition “Periodization Training for Sports” when my son was on the high school track team. I was actually able to email correspond with an athlete who said he used that book as his training bible, and he went on to win a gold medal at the Olympics.
Training is broken down into yearly cycles, or phases:
- Anatomical Adaptation (getting your body and soft tissues ready for training)
- Hypertrophy (building muscle mass)
- Maximum Strength (taking the gains is mass and making them stronger)
- Conversion (taking strength gains and converting them to sport-specific power)
- Competitive and Transition (your races and before you start the training year over again)
In the second edition of Periodization Training for Sports, Tudor Bompa and Michael Carrera add some things that might be more interest to triathletes than just the science. It offers a yearly plan including the phases above. If you don’t think triathletes need strength training, ask Joe Friel and Tudor Bompa. You can benefit from strength training. The book walks you through the science of what to do, how to plan it, and break it down to smaller cycles (monthly and weekly) to maximize your performance.
It tells you the dominant energy sources, energy suppliers, limiting factors and training objectives, plans to train each energy systems, and nutrition. By the time you reach the plans, you understand and can immediately apply them because you already understand the science and how to get the most out of your training.
Here’s a good excerpt on Principles of Strength Training.
If you’re like me, you will enjoy learning the science behind the training theory. Then you will adapt to your own training and maximize your performance.