We have all read about it and think of it in terms of builds, bases, recovery weeks and specific preps. I’m here to firmly tell you it isn’t. Those things have value in our language but for me it’s about chunking things into blocks that I can work with.
What came this year was a big, valuable piece of learning for me in this area.
Over the COVID / lockdown period this year I was able to get a unique snapshot of some real patterns and learnings. This came from a removal of a lot of variables. We had more time to train and we weren’t “interrupted” by building, tapering and recovering from races. We recovered well (more time to cook good meals and take naps) and we had higher than usual levels of motivation that came from less things to occupy our minds. Even those of us that were challenged by unemployment/ under-employment seemed to manage somehow to be motivated to train.
What I also saw was a drop off in energy around August / September and I made the decision to let it fall. To take the pressure off continually having to perform. To remove challenges and let it flow where it needed to go. I knew that October and November was the time to start winding up again after a regroup.
I learnt a few things from all this.
? We have a lot more in the tank than we think. I’ve seen athletes take themselves to heights I knew were there but the athlete didn’t.
? We don’t have an infinite amount of energy. Eventually, the work / rest principle has to take over and you need to regroup.
? Simplifying is the path to success. When we add things in we keep expecting ourselves to be able to do it all.
? We can push if we know how long we have to push for !
? Have a “reset” week at the end of each block
This lockdown period gave me an amazing insight into athletes and what was possible. So what did I take away from it?
? Post-COVID, if I took my structure to 3 x 4 month blocks then it would work better than 4 x 3 months. 1 Base block and 2 racing blocks.
? Each block would have a “shoulder” where it might blur between phases
Base Block – May to August ……. (Race Block 1 for Europe)
Race Block 1 – September to December ……. (Race Block 2 for Europe)
Race Block 2 – January to April …. (Base Block for Europe)
Whilst this may feel a bit the same as before I have learnt that if we think in terms of the block, set goals for that block and push all our energy into that block, then we can think clearly about our task ahead.