Build Peak Fitness

Specific race-day sessions introduced now will set you up perfectly for the season ahead

These progressive and race-tailored workouts will help move you towards race-day readiness. Training with focus and allocating the right number of sessions per week will also set you up to compete faster. For example, extending sessions for mid-/long-course athletes or hitting above race intensity for the short-course competitor. But, before jumping into the training plans you need to be aware of the following:

Other sessions in your week must be moderate endurance maintenance, low-intensity skill work or true recovery days off. Not everything needs to be fast and furious. Absorbing the hard work is key to this phase of training.

You need to pay special attention to nutrition before, during and after the key sessions. This is particularly important for mid-/long-course athletes practising fuelling rates, flavour choice and stomach compatibility. Practising these during this progressive phase of the year will significantly increase the performance benefits.

No more than 2-3 sessions per week should be planned. Four hard sessions is pro territory, and for those blessed with plenty of time to recover. Every other training session in your week, every rest day, every bit of ‘body work’ is aimed at making these key sessions possible and helping you progress. Knowing when to rein it in is the trait of a smart athlete.

It’s vital to ensure that you don’t significantly drop base training volume or the Zone 1 work. Elite studies, age-group diaries and research data show that no less than 75% of training time must be maintained in Zone 1, despite moving into pre-season and in-season mode. This means that many of the weekly sessions are 100% Zone 1 despite the end-of-session perception that you should be doing some speed work or race-pace efforts. Long, hard or multi-discipline sessions may be the focus, but the lion’s share must be <80% of your maximum heart rate, which in perceived exertion terms is ‘easy to moderate’.

Increasing day lengths, rising temperatures and the season looming into view mean this is exactly the right time to add in harder work. Compared to the uphill struggle of October to January, we’re now on a performance elevator: greater returns for the toil invested.