Updated: Feb 11, 2020
The next step in setting up your programming is going to be to set your meso and micro cycles.
The year, the big calendar is essentially the “MacroCycle” One year could be 2 halves, and 2 macro cycles, which is how I have my year set up more or less, due to the Yukon 1000 being in July. After that I’ll take a break as if it's off season before shifting my metabolic training focus and training for the second half of my year, my second macro cycle.
For my example worksheet, I’ll be working in just my first macrocycle.
If you would like to learn more about micro, meso, and macrocycles here are some graphics linked to longer articles explaining what they are. If you aren't familiar with the terms, I would recommend checking out learning more about the terminology before watching my video!
My favorite books on the topic, for DEEP understanding are by Tudor Bompa: Periodization Training for Sports
However, if you read these books, you probably won't need my quick video and description below any more!!
This graphic is mighty helpful when filling out your periodization calendar, use it to follow along with the "How To" video when planning out your 2020 race season!
I have identified 2 A races in my first Macrocycle. I have 4 B races
And 2 C Races
Now... either watch the video.. or scroll down to read it directly.
1. PUT DATES IN CALENDAR
To set my mesocycles, I first put the dates into my training plan calendar. You can use the calendar you’ve already printed out, but due to how much scribbling you probably did on the first draft calendar, I would recommend to print out a new calendar. I actually like a full year calendar without the days of the week labeled, which I’ve made available to download in my blog. I also like to keep any LABELS off this calendar - NO RACE NAMES.
2. GUARD A RACE TAPER AND RECOVERY
Once I have my A Races set. I count back for the taper, and forward for the recovery. Since those are my priority races, my recovery going into and coming out of those events is paramount. The taper, and the recovery ARE MESOCYCLES. These vary in length, my taper mesocycle for Yukon is 2 weeks… we’ll see how long the recovery is!! Having never paddled 1000 miles in 5 days I’m not sure how I’ll be feeling. I’m currently planning to leave that unplanned and listen to my body to respect that race distance. It doesn’t have to be perfect number like 7 or 14 days correlating to weeks. I may feel good in 17 days! I’ll go from there. Which brings me to the next step in your calendar:
3. DETERMINE MICRO-CYCLE LENGTH
Before you can set your calendar cycles, you need to determine how long a micro-cycle will be. I’ve selected a 7 day microcycle for my training, because it correlates with one week, and a lot of races are on weekends. So it keeps things neat and clean. BLOCK THESE OUT ON YOUR CALENDAR: count back from my High Priority A race tapers and recoveries and create those 7 day blocks
If you are very young, or very fit, you could do shorter micro cycles. If you are over 50, I recommend lengthening your microcycles to allow for more recovery. For example, if you download a training plan with 7 days of work, you would spread that 7 days out over 10 days instead.
4. ASSIGN EACH MICROCYCLE TO A MESOCYCLE
Now that I have my Microcycles partitioned, I’ll determine how best to construct a Meso Cycle. These meso cycles will be 4+1, 3+1, or 2+1 - this will depend on the athlete and the goals of that meso cycle… as well as how well well those numbers fit! For example if you have 8 weeks, you may do 2 3+1 mesocycles, whereas if you have 6 weeks, you may do 2 2+1 cycles.
Just a note on a 4+1 mesocyclone, these are doable for very fit people, or when you’re doing a lot of slow easy base work.
5. DETERMINE THE GOALS OF EACH MESOCYCLE
BASE: Before these races, I count back and determine how many mesocycles of base building I will need. A lot of times this is influenced by how well trained the athlete is, how much time they have available. If you’re new to training, or are consistently training in your grey zone then you need to spend more time developing your “base” or your aerobic capacity. This is non-negotiable. When in doubt, give the nod to longer, lower intensity work. SPEED: Speed is something we acquire and lose quickly, as well as anaerobic capacity, so right before my taper is when I’m going to put in my speed work, these weeks will be higher intensity but possibly lower volume. I will do a little bit of finessing, but not a ton, to make these work with my B races.
Remember, although I would like to do OK at my B races, if there’s any scheduling conflicts, the sacrifice will come at the cost of the B race. I get at least 1 build meso cycles before my first 2 B races. This is good, but if these were A races I would likely want more than one. However, because they are B races, I will have 1 build mesocycle, then rest, then use them as a part of my second build mesocycle.
In my second build after Molosolo, I have a neat 6 week block before I have another 2 B races. Looking at the nature of my A race. This is PERFECT for 2x(2+1) mesocycles Alternatively, depending on the metabolic nature of the B races and my important A race, I could also divide this into a 3+1 and a 1+1 =6. I have some soul searching to do, and I may find the answer in my next video when I start planning specific workouts. This could also change based on how I feel after Molokai. Finding the right balance of structure and flexibility is key in training.
A VERY IMPORTANT NOTE
The important thing to note here is that every BODY is different. What is right for me, and what I’ve learned about myself over the years may not be the best way to structure the plan for you. Are you a responder to high volume or high intensity? Do you only work out 3-4 times a week or do you work out 10-12 times a week? The answers to these questions are something you should keep in the back of your head while you wait for Part 3 of this series: How to build microcycles. In the next part I’ll dive into How we build the individual workouts that fill each week. This will depend on how your body responds to various training modalities, as well as the metabolic demands of your key races.