The Art of Periodization

Periodization in marathon training is all about strategically planning your training throughout your training cycle to reach peak performance on race day. It’s like a roadmap that ensures you build a strong foundation, develop specific skills, and arrive at the marathon ready to crush your goals.

Generally, the process of periodization breaks down your training into manageable phases:

  • Base Phase: This is the groundwork. You’ll focus on building aerobic endurance with easy to moderate runs, gradually increasing mileage. Strength training is also incorporated to build a solid foundation to prevent injuries.
  • Build Phase: Here, you start introducing workouts that target specific aspects of marathon running. This might include tempo runs to improve lactate threshold, interval training for speed, and longer runs to simulate race distance. The intensity picks up in this phase.
  • Peak Phase: As race day approaches, you’ll fine-tune your fitness with race-specific workouts like goal pace runs. Volume typically decreases slightly, but intensity remains high.
  • Taper Phase: This is crucial for preventing burnout and arriving at the starting line fresh. Training volume reduces significantly, allowing your body to recover and peak for race day.

By following a periodization plan, you’ll benefit from several advantages:

  • Progressive Overload: Gradually increasing training stress in each phase forces your body to adapt and become stronger.
  • Specificity: Later phases incorporate workouts that mimic the demands of the marathon, preparing your body for race day.
  • Reduced Injury Risk: Periodization allows for recovery periods, minimizing the risk of overuse injuries.
  • Peak Performance: The taper phase ensures you’re well-rested and ready to perform at your best on race day.

There are different periodization models, but they all share the core principle of strategically manipulating training variables like volume, intensity, and rest to achieve peak performance at a specific time. For marathon training, this peak performance translates to race day!