In the last few aging posts I’ve been walking you through how you can customize your periodization to more closely match your age by focusing on the recovery side of the training equation. I hope you are giving some thought to how you can adjust your microcycles and mesocycles to ensure that you come into the key workouts with adequate recovery. That will boost your fitness while helping you to slow, or even reverse, the decline in performance typically seen with aging. And planning based on getting adequate recovery after hard days will help you avoid injury.
After you come up with a plan it’s critical that you are flexible in applying it. So what does flexible mean? It means paying close attention to how you feel. If you are not feeling rested enough to do a high-dose workout, even though one may be planned for that day, reduce its difficulty — intensity, duration or both. Or even consider taking the day off if your fatigue is great enough. Training through deep fatigue will only result in a poor quality session and more fatigue – not better fitness.
Periodization is only a tool to help you train more effectively. Too many seem to see it as a rigid dictum requiring you to do every workout as scheduled regardless of how you feel at the time. Considering it as such is a sure way to end up injured or overtrained.
There are a few athletes – and I do mean “few” – who are so in-tune with their bodies and have such a depth of experience with training that they don’t need detailed training plans. You may know of a good athlete like this who expresses disdain at periodization and planning. Yet they do good workouts, recover well and have great races. Regardless of what they may say, however, they do have a plan. And they are periodizing. It just isn’t written down and worked out in detail on a daily and weekly basis as I’ve been suggesting. It’s in their heads. They know what needs to be done and when. Dose and density are always on their minds even if they don’t know what the terms mean. What they’re doing is called “periodization on demand” and “recovery on demand” (here and here) which work well for a few athletes. Most are incapable of training this way because they give only lip service to “listening to their bodies.” In reality most follow the philosophy of “never enough.” That almost always results in breakdowns such as an injury or overtraining when not following a well-designed plan.
In the next post in this series I’ll suggest an overview to periodization at the macrocycle (seasonal) level with adjustments made for senior athletes. By the time we’re done with this planning stuff you’ll be able to train more effectively and race faster. Hang in there with me. We’re almost done. Only a couple more periodization posts. I know this probably seems a lot more complicated than what you expected. But the payoff next season and for years to come is significant.