As a coach, I have watched countless athletes push themselves to be their best YEAR ROUND!
I often refer to these athletes as the “70 percenters”. They are always racing. Whether it is a casual Saturday group ride in November, a mid week run workout in December, or a charity 5k before Thanskgiving dinner, they are always pushing themselves (and their heart rates) into the red zone. Without some level of periodization in a schedule, you will never allow yourself to fully develop ALL of the necessary physiological systems that are needed to reach peak fitness. Peak fitness that will allow you to have that one or two break through performances a year.
A well laid out training plan should have very distinct phases. If you have a coach, that coach should be able to explain to you the purpose of each phase. From building strength and aerobic efficiency in the early season to refining speed and race tactics before your “A” race, a good coach should take the guess work out of your training and have you racing at (or very close to) 100% of what you are capable of only a handful of times a year. And yes, this usually means losing some fitness and losing that Saturday sprint in November or the Jingle Bell 5k in December.
Getting out of the “70 percenter” category takes confidence, belief and a clear vision of what you want to accomplish. If you want to be your best at the race that matters most to you, you must not only subscribe to a training plan, but you must go all in and follow the 3 tenants of Zen Training:
Great Faith. Great Doubt. Great Effort.