~Your training should change just as the season do~
With the holidays fast approaching and schedules filling with celebrations, it’s important to assess your training schedule. The winter holidays can be a good time to tone down the intensity of your training and allow your body time to rest & actively recover. Since the 1950s, exercise scientists have utilized a concept called periodization with their athletes. Periodization is a training schedule designed to “avoid over-training and to systematically alternate high loads of training with decreased loading phases to improve components of muscular fitness.”
If the newly cold weather or your busy holiday schedule mean you don’t have as much time for training right now, it might be helpful to plan on easing up this time of year. We know that consistently training at high intensities isn’t sustainable or healthy. Just as the seasons change, it can be a good time to slow down and allow your body a much needed de-loading period. This can give your body a chance to recover and allow it to be even stronger in the future, while avoiding certain repetitive use injuries. Periodization doesn’t mean you completely stop training and lose all of your hard-earned progress. Instead, it means downshifting to a lower gear and it will actually makes you a better athlete in the long run.
Although traditionally used for weightlifters, periodization can apply to any athlete who trains heavily, including endurance athletes such as runners or cyclists. For example, runners can vary their training load by changing running frequency, speed, distance, surface, recovery, strength training program, cross training and other variables, while taking short and long term goals into account—such as any big future races. If you have no major races on the calendar until spring, it makes sense to de-load on the milage so that you can gradually add distance and speed as your big event approaches, while avoiding burnout and injury.
To read further about the three main types of periodization – linear, block, and undulating – click here!
If you’ve been plagued by injuries in the past, or want to avoid them in the future, consider applying periodization to your training schedule.
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