Periodisation – Creating My Cycling Training Plan

Remember: A good Training plan is a key part of structured training and provides you the map with which you can work towards your goals, ensuring that you not only arrive at them in peak condition, but also ensures that you have worked on your strengths and relevant weaknesses (limiters), giving you the best chance of success.


So after completing the preparation phase of creating my structured cycling training plan I was now armed with all the information I needed (my goals, strenghts, limiters) to begin the fun part (for me anyway) of actually drawing up the plan for the year ahead:

Periodisation

In simplistic terms, to improve on last year I need to get stronger and faster for longer. To achieve this I have to subject my body to increasing levels of work. However if I just started training more and more (and faster & faster) and thus add more training stress to my body throughout the year without taking into account things like rest and recovery periods, I would improve for a while, but I would also burn out or break down at some point.

As well as this, by working on the right types of training at the right times, I know that I will have a much better chance of arriving at my A priority (goal) events in top condition.

So to start process of creating my plan, I divided my yearly cycle (Macrocycle) up into smaller sections (periods), just to get a very basic outline of what I wanted to achieve, so something like this:

Here I did not need to be specific, it was just to get me started and I found by doing this, it really made the process of filling in the whole and far more detailed plan much more manageable and less daunting. The other benefit is that because it gives you a bird’s-eye view it really helped me focus my thoughts on what I want to achieve at different times of the year.

The Macrocycle
The macrocycle is the longest period. For me and I guess for most people the Macrocycle will cover a full calendar year, but probably not start on the 1st of January and will encompass all the different stages of your periodised training program (endurance, intensity/specificity, competition and recovery).

The Mesocycle
These shorter periods within the Macrocycle, consist of more specific blocks of training designed to achieve a particular objective. For example, during the early part of the year (in the base phases) I will create a mesocycle specifically to work on my aerobic endurance, then within the build period, I will design a mesocycle aimed at improving my functional threshold power (ftp). But more on that later, for mow we just want to get the basic skeleton of our year ahead down on paper.

The Microcyle
These short training cycles take up a week or so and are aimed at being as specific as possible to whatever it is you are trying to achieve.

Base, Build & Speciality – The First 28 Weeks

From what I have leant over the years from my coaches, reading training manuals like The Cyclist’s Training Bible by Joe Friel (see top right hand side bar) and using information online from sources like Training Peaks, TrainerRoad, I have settled on scheduling in 3 main periods leading up to my first targeted event.

These are 12 weeks of a Base Training Period (divided into base 1 and 2), followed by an 8 week Build Period and then 8 weeks of a Speciality training period leading right up to my first goal event.

I will get into each of these in much more detail in the next post, but for now that is a total of 28 weeks of structured training, each with a specific goal in mind, divided up into three different periods.

Step 1
So to get the ball rolling, I added my first A priority (goal) event onto a simple calendar that I created using a spreadsheet. From there I worked backwards adding the three pre goal event training periods: Speciality, Build and then Base (working backwards) and thus my training plan began life looking like this:

So there you have it, my training plan was starting to take shape. So far I have established my goals, know my strengths, weaknesses and the specific limiters within those. I now also have a basic bare bones map from when my structured training will start and leading right up to my first A priority goal event.

In the next post, I add some more meat to this training plan framework by exploring periodisation a little more by looking into each of the training periods, what their aims are and what is required. Until then, I hope that at least some of this has been of use to you.

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