How to Write a Training Program

How to Write a Training Program

📅February 25th, 2015, 14:29

As athletes, we all have different abilities and goals, which means our training plans are going to be written differently. That being said, training programs should still have the same basic structure with different cycles written out to help build your aerobic base and endurance, strength, power, prepare specifically and peak for an event, and then recover. Training will be different and specific throughout the program, depending on where you are in your season and how close you are to your goal event. We’ve got a few pointers to help you outline your own training plan and some of our favorite resources for working with a coach or training with a group.

The first step in developing a successful training program is to determine your goal event for the year. There will likely be smaller events along the way that you can use as part of your training process, but once you know your goal event you can work back to figure out an appropriate start date. If you’ve trained for similar events before, you can look back at previous training plans to determine your starting volume. The overall training period from beginning to your goal event is called a macrocycle and includes several phases of training volume and intensity with focused, intentional periods of rest.

Goal-Quotes-51As your training program begins, you’ll move first in to general preparation with your focus on building a base of aerobic fitness and endurance. This base training phase will last 4-8 weeks for most of us and is the foundation that the rest of the training program is built on. Training during this period will be general as you start to build all the pieces that you need for successful training down the road – with possibility of some time spent cross-training outside of your primary sport and plenty of time working on core strength, balance, and stability as you develop all necessary sport specific skills. This is the perfect time to focus on correcting any existing weaknesses that may cause injury as you move begin to move forward to the next phases of training.

As general preparation ends, specific training begins. This is typically a shorter period of time than the general prep phase and involves focus on sport specific movements and activities. Cross-training is reduced or eliminated at this point as most of the work planned is specific to your final goal. Intensity in this phase is increased, and more of the training is geared toward simulating the effort required for your target event.

Specific training leads to the competitive phase of the training cycle, as intensity increases before allowing for a recovery period leading up to the final event. This final phase of training may include a competition or two that simulate your goal event. If your final goal is an Olympic distance triathlon, you may target a Sprint distance triathlon in the weeks leading up to your event that allow you to test your race preparation and fine tune everything from gear to pace.

One of the most difficult parts of training for athletes to grasp is the taper in the final days and weeks leading up to the final event, and the rest and recovery period immediately after. Properly training for an event takes months or years, depending on your final goal, so it is important to include intentional, structured rest periods throughout the macrocycle, with recovery scheduled in regular intervals and emphasized before and after the event.

The rest and recovery periods during different phases of training, and then in the weeks before and after the goal event are actually what allow us to absorb the benefits of all the hard work we do during weeks that are heavily focused on training. Recovery is important after each key workout to prepare your body for the next, and recovery weeks are the perfect time to take advantage of extra time for sports massage, acupuncture, catching up on sleep, and spending time with friends and loved ones that tolerate your busy training schedule. It’s also important to find proper balance with training so that you are sure that what you are doing is manageable with the rest of your life scheduled, as consistency is key to successfully meeting your goals.

The reality is that writing a training program is incredibly complex, and requires understanding a fair amount about the body and how it reacts to training stimulus, as well as having the ability to self-motivate for difficult training sessions and also have the self-discipline to notice when it’s time for rest and recovery so that you can adjust your plan as needed. Phew, that’s a lot…and you still need time to train while you’re at it! For most of us, hiring a coach is the best solution as you have access to an incredible source of knowledge and a fresh set of eyes to help guide you every step of the way!

Ready to take on your next big goal? Whether you write your own program or seek the expertise of a coach, be intentional with planning and pull together all the pieces that will help make you better!