Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Organic Periodization

Every one has heard the term "Train Smart, Not Hard."  But what is this?  In a nutshell the basic premise is based on periodization, which is planning your training.  Tudor Bompa, the "father of periodization" developed this technique many years ago, becoming the foundation for most modern training programs across many sports.

Macro cycles are generally yearly, or longer training plans, mapping out training and competition periods.   Macro cycles are then divided into two or more meso cycles, lasting weeks or months. And lastly, micro cycles are generally weekly schedules.  The three periods of a yearly macro cycle are the preparation phase, the competition phase, and the transition phase.

This post will deal with the transition phase, and how it helps the endurance athlete recover and integrate back into society.  Most endurance athletes spend long hours training and competing over much of the season.  This takes it's toll on the body and mind.  From a physical and scientific view point, the body needs recovery BIG TIME.  Bumps, bruises, nagging injuries, and busy schedules need attention.  The transition period is a time when volume and intensity of training backs off.  For many motivated athletes, this is very difficult to do.
Post UltraBeast legs

For many athletes, especially endurance athletes, the Fall is the end of the competition season.  Late Fall and early Winter are a great time for the athlete to naturally assimilate to the transition phase.  Shorter days, Fall clean ups, and eventually the Holiday season take a lot of time.  Workouts can be cut down to as few as a two or three a week.  This leaves time for family, chores, and reflection.  I believe it is very important to embrace this time away from heavy training loads, not only for recovery, but to enjoy life, spend more time with loved ones and relaxing activities, rejuvenating the mind and body for the next preparatory period.

Light workouts should work on base-cardio, joint stability, balance, and light strength endurance.  Any one who participates in sports with a lot of running, or contact sport athletes should minimize any impact or contact for this period.  This is a great time to practice yoga, as it can be relaxing and helps with flexibility and balance.  A good massage therapist can help restore joint mobility, release fascia, increase muscle blood flow, and break down scar tissue.

Dealing with, even the smallest injuries are important at this time.  While many nagging injuries seem to go away quickly, I highly recommend seeing a good physical therapist if they don't disappear quickly.  Even if the pain recedes, the body can be forced to compensate, often leading to imbalances.  While these are hardly noticeable to the untrained, a good PT will get you back on track quickly.

In conclusion, many people organically fall into the transition period during the Fall, others can't stop training hard.  While the prepatory period may seem like the beginning of next season, it actually starts here.  If the body is not recovered, once training starts back up, injuries and low energy will severely hamper performance.  The Fall and Holiday season are fun times to enjoy life, friends, family, food, and spirituality.  I say relax, embrace it, and come back the guns blazing next season.

Take a little time to enjoy loved ones in the off season

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