Continuing with the previous article in which the first three parts of the creation of a plan were exposed, the ones that complete the circle of questions with which to take the first step to organize the season of an athlete are detailed.
4. Strengths and limiters.
Thanks to softwares such as TrainingPeaks, a detailed analysis of each athletes’ story is possible by studying the infinity of the graphs and data that represent them numerically.
This information allows us to know precisely what strengths and limiters the athlete needs to focus on, so this is the part of the planning process in which we begin to have a real perspective of the distance between the current level and the level to be achieved to get the goals set.Within this set of data, two that are of special interest and that the coach has to assess in a major way are:
The current reserve of adaptation, that is, the margin of improvement of that athlete during the season that is now being planned.
The total reserve of adaptation, that is, the margin of improvement that this athlete can have throughout his/her career, whether professional or amateur.
5. The macrocycle.
Knowing the characteristics of the athlete, the characteristics of the competition, the months till the event and the margin to improve in the athlete to reach the level of performance he/she needs to achieve the goal you can choose between one of the multiple training plan models or, in case the coach has enough level, knowledge and experience, a fully customized training plan can be created. This last option is the best in case the standard training plans do not adjust 100% to the needs of the athlete
Usually, in less experienced people, the training loads are mainly focused on a progressive increase of the volume (duration and frequency) since this will ensure a wider base to later move to a phase where higher intensities are the main goal.
In experienced athletes the plans must be focused on the quality of their training, where the focus has to be placed on the intensity of the loads and the specificity of them.
In elite athletes both the volume of training and the intensity are variables that have to be taken to maximum levels to achieve the performance required to get the highest fitness level.
6. The mesocycles.The variety of the loads and the progressive increase of them are two of the issues that define the type of mesocycles, where each one of those blocks must have several objectives to reach so that, once the competition has arrived, the process has been the ideal to face it.
Usually, in most plans, two large parts are established throughout the season (which encompass several mesocycles in each of them).On the one hand, those initial blocks (also called non-specific, or base mesocycles) that have as their primary objective that the athlete prepare the body for the later months of specific training (more demanding and similar to the competition). That is, first “train to train” and then “train to compete”.A different plan is needed when the races are spread during several months and they are separated just a few days or weeks between each other. For instance, the events in olympic and sprint distance triathlons and road bike, mountain bike and cyclocross one-day races, which have a season with multiple competitions and where points have to be earned to achieve the best final position.In this case, the way to plan the season requires three variants: 1- the balance between unspecific and specific loads has to be achieved several times in order to ensure several times a peak performance; 2- the main competitions themselves are perfect moments to prepare the following races; 3- the season must be analyzed tactically to obtain the maximum score in the moments in which the athlete has the greatest advantage due to the conditions of the event, while balancing those critical moments with others in which the rivals may have favorable conditions.
Finally, in the third part of this article, in the next installment, we will analyze the way in which the strength, nutrition and style of the coach contribute to create the best planning of the season.