Peaking is being in the Best Physical and Mental Condition on Race Day
Peaking means to be in the best physical and mental condition at a specific day and for a specific event. Of course, this is not easy and first of all a lot of experience is required, but a sophisticated plan can make peaking a bit easier.
It's important to differentiate preparation from elite athletes, who often have one goal and the whole preparation is planned around that, and those from age group athletes with multiple peaks during one season. So let's talk more about this second group of athletes. Taking into consideration a few things can make planning a lot more successful.
Start with writing down your goals on a calendar and work backward, considering the following points:
• Build a Fitness Base
• Build Aerobic Capacity
• Build Speed
• Taper for the Event
Build a Fitness Base
It's the longest period during the preparation, about half of the time between the start day and the race day. This can last from weeks to months, it depends on your fitness level. During this period it?s important to train at an easy pace, focus on technics, strenght and endurance. Base training is extremely important and often athletes makes the mistake to train to hard during this time of preparation. Be patient! This is also the period where you could and should do cross-training, this means to practice also other kind of sports.
Build Aerobic Capacity
The next step comprises approximately the next quarter. The focus is on increasing your aerobic capacity and your power and of course doing more specific workouts. During this period the volume is the same, but the intensity is higher, so it means also include more recovery days to avoid injury or illness. It?s very important to listen to your body, to read the signals and not to be afraid of taking a day off!
After the first two phases building base, speed and power, it?s time to focus on specific training. This means adding intervals, the intensity is high, even higher than your planned race speed! The rest between the workouts is crucial, in order to avoid injuries and recover well for the next speed work.
Taper for the Event
The last part of the preparation is the taper. Usually it comprises around two weeks, the last two weeks before the race. The training volume should be reduced almost by half. But it?s important to mantain the high-intensity intervals, but the number of the repeats should be reduced too. The final three days before the event can include aerobic exercise, but the main goal is to rest to have peak potential on race day. During these days it?s also important to do a proper carboloading to replenish glycogen store. Also the mental preparation, for example visualizing a good performance, shouldn?t to be underestimated.
As we see, peaking is not easy to do and requires a good interaction of different aspects. There are many ways to plan a schedule and working with an expert coach is probably the best!
Edith Niederfriniger is a Professional Triathlete and coach and lives in Meran, Trentino - Alto Adige, Italy. In 2010 Edith placed 2nd at Ironman Malaysia and 31st at the Ironman World Championship in Kona. In 2009, Edith placed 2nd place at Ironman China, 8th place at Ironman Coeur d'Alene and 15th place at the Ironman World Championship in Kona. Edith studied physical education and earned a degree in Sports at I.S.E.F.