Monday, November 15, 2010

Seasons and Periodization

As a Triathlete in mid-September I wrapped up my swim, bike, and run season.  As a Runner the end of November will mark the end of my outside running season - I don't train indoors on a treadmill anymore.  As a Crossfitter the colder months indicate my shift to indoor training and since I take a break with my other sports, its a great time to increase my Crossfit training.  I pick the winter months to ramp up strength training and really focus on Crossfit; however, Crossfit doesn't really have "seasons" since the majority of Crossfitters aren't training for sectionals, regionals, and the Games.  Crossfitters love their sport and with the lack of seasons and eagerness to get better tend to over-train.  Outside sports have weather and seasons to help athletes know when to ramp up and slow down their training, but Crossfit is constantly varied and is done all year round indoors and out, in the hot and in the cold.  One common criticism of Crossfitting is that there is no programmed rest and the concept of periodization doesn't really exist since most Crossfitters aren't training to peak at the Crossfit Games.

So what are you supposed to do as a Crossfitter?  When you are training for a run, like a Marathon, you follow a training plan that has built in taper weeks and increases your volume of training to help you peak on race day.  Crossfit doesn't have a 16, 12, or 8 week training plan to help you string together a combination of strength training and met-cons to help you peak for a certain event or around a certain time of the year.  You have to take responsibility for your training as a Crossfitter, and build in some downtime as well as review the mix of strength verse met-con that you do in order to reach your personal goals or training schedule.  Its important to not go 100% all year round, you need to give your body time to recover, you can't go 3 days on 1 day off 12 months in a row and every time you do strength go for a new 1, 3, 5 rep max.  It's important to remember that more (weight, reps,training sessions) isn't always better, and there is a lot of value in giving your body time to repair itself.  Over-training leads to injury and adrenal burnout, the best way to avoid this is to add periodization (e.g., training to reach peak performance and including some downtime) to your training.

In order to apply the concept of periodization, you need to define your personal goals and 'seasons' to help determine when you're going hard, when you're working to build strength, and when you're taking it easy.  I use my other sports as a guide to help me increase training in one area, decrease training in another, and make sure that I take some time off in between.  This year, I was training for Regionals and then the Games, and found that my Crossfit training and my running/triathlon training were conflicting with each other.  I was doing too many training sessions a week and trying to cram in runs, bikes, and swims as well.  It left me a little burned out, and a few weeks prior to the games I took a break because my training had stagnated and I was on my way to getting burned out - before my big event!  To help you plan your training, create a list of personal goals and work with a trainer to put a plan in place to realistically achieve them.  Track your workouts in a log book - I like to track mine on a monthly calendar so I can see what my training looks across a week, 2 weeks, and even the whole month.  I plan my workouts weekly, sometimes using a running or triathlon training plan and supplementing with Crossfit on the Interval or Open days.  One of the most important lessons I've learned through training for multiple sports and adding Crossfit in is the value of rest days.  Make sure they are included in your training plan as well - depending on your level and your goals the amount of rest days will vary.  But remember, rest days are not days that you don't do anything, they are days that you are letting your body repair and get stronger.

Now with some more information on periodization and its importance how will you apply periodization to your training?  Have you reached the point of burn out where you feel stagnated?  How are you going to change the way you plan your training going forward?

1 comment:

  1. Great post Laura! This reminds me of a quote I recently heard that I thought you'd enjoy -- "Working out doesn't make you fit. Recovery makes you fit." It's taken me 18 months of CrossFit to figure out my own recovery needs, including day-to-day nutrition, post-WOD nutrition, rest days, sleep, and periodization. I'm still learning but I'm getting so much better. Thanks for a great article!