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How to Structure your Season, Head of Performance Tom explains all.

Planning Your Season

To reach your full potential and make the most of your training in 2018, it is critical to have structured systems and methods in place that allow you to obtain peak performance. We all have busy work, social and family lives that our training needs to fit around. The key to success is to use your training time both in the lab and out on the road wisely.

 To develop an effective new year training plan and maximise your time certain steps need to be considered:

Season Goals

At this time of year, the main area of focus is formulating your season goals. The idea of setting goals is to give your training a direction and purpose. Think of something that is challenging but achievable. If you aim too high and know deep down it’s an impossible target for just one season’s work, you are less likely to commit fully to your training sessions. There is nothing wrong with long-term ambitions that can be spread over several seasons or years. However, for the purpose of developing and improving over the year, sticking to smaller challenging but achievable goals is more beneficial.

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Prioritise Races & Events

Many of you will have a long list of events lined up for the coming year. There will be some that will be more important than others. To ensure that you peak for the correct events you must prioritise them in order of importance. Pick 3 – 4 events that are the most important to your season. These will form your A races for the year. As these races or events are the highlights of your season they should take priority when it comes to your training and planning.  The dates of your A races are what you should look to build, peak and taper for. Following events which hold some importance can be labeled as B races. These can be numerous in number, but do not require a specific build. A short taper would be sufficient for B races allowing you to perform well, yet not cause significant disruption to your training and A race preparation. The remaining events can be classed as C races. As these are less important training can continue through with reduced rest and the potential for carrying over some fatigue into the event. The aim of C races is to gain experience, test your progress or just for fun. The outcome or result is not critically important.

Establish Strengths and weaknesses

Often our weaknesses remain so because we avoid training them due to our dislike or fear of that particular area of performance. Nevertheless, if you are to improve then you must first highlight and then train around that weakness. This can be achieved by both looking back at the past year and forward to your coming events. What areas did you feel held you back? Where did you struggle the most? What is required for you to be successful in your A races or events?  Highlighting what areas need to be worked upon at the start of the year will help structure your future training focus and dictate how long you need to spend working on the various components of performance.


How to divide your yearly training

Once you have established your goals, key events and areas of weakness it is important to structure your training into periods. A common mistake made by many is to have a training schedule that looks the same from one week to another no matter the season.  This is not the best use of your training time nor will it enable you to reach peak performance. Your training both in the lab and on the road should follow some logical structure. The rides here at Athlete Lab are all designed for a specific purpose, so selecting rides that suit the time of year, the current period of training or your event is relatively simple.

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Base: The base phase is traditionally through the winter months, although this can vary depending on when your key objectives are. The aim of base training is to lay the foundations of the coming year, usually lasting for about 2-3 months. The main focus is on aerobic endurance. Long steady outdoor rides and indoor sessions that work around zones 2 to 3 at a higher RPM. However, If you’re typically riding for 5-15 hours each week, there is little benefit in doing all workouts at a steady pace as it won’t stimulate any real training effect. By adding a small amount of intensity to your off-season training, you will maximise your returns from your limited training time.

Build: In the build phase, we build upon the fitness gained in the base period and include the higher intensity sessions needed before the peak phase. Working on muscular endurance by introducing and increasing the number of Low RPM sessions. This section may also include race-specific workouts. The aerobic endurance is still maintained at this time with long steady rides but at a slightly lower duration than the base phase. The build phase is usually 1-2 months in length, depending on your level of fitness and length of race your training for.

Peak: The peak phase brings you to a physiological peak for your A race and will include some of your most intense training sessions also your most important recovery periods. The duration or volume spent training will normally reduce during this period as the intensity increases. Peaking can be anywhere from a couple of weeks to a month in length. It’s better to keep it shorter as you’ll start to lose base fitness if the peak phase lasts too long.

Taper: The taper period could only be a week to 2 weeks long and is aimed at maintaining the fitness you’ve built in the previous phases but recovering enough to be in a rested for your A race.


Recovery: Post race or event it is important to rest and recover. This is not the only time to recover. If you are training to an intensity and duration that is sufficient enough to produce fatigue it’s important to build recovery into your training to avoid overtraining. Ignoring the build-up of fatigue and overtraining can have a significant detrimental impact on performance. Typically, a recovery week should be built in every 4 – 5 weeks. This does not mean a week of no training. The aim is simply to reduce the intensity and duration of your training to allow for a drop in the level of fatigue, so you can then complete future training weeks effectively and progress.


If you would like any further training advice, information on coaching options or questions feel free to drop me an email, [email protected]