Load and Unload

This past weekend I took my NCCP Triathlon coaching certification. One of the most interesting things I learned about is the idea of “loading” and “unloading.” I definitely have been aware of the idea, but I have not systematically implemented it into my training. For the most part, my training has looked sort of like this:

Load->Load a bit more->Load even more-> Taper->Race->Repeat

It occurred to me that this may not be the soundest way of doing things. From what I leaned, coaches generally plan in four week cycles, with the first three weeks being a “load” phase, and then the fourth week being an “unload” phase. Said another way: 21 days hard, 7 days easy. Apparently, during this 7 day period you see your biggest gains.

I am not a big fan of conventions and rules, so I will not follow this layout exactly. That being said, I do think there is some value to this idea, and I will definitely be incorporating this more into my training. I started my first “load” of 2014 on January 1st. I trained pretty hard for 20 days straight, and at that time (January 20th) my body was starting to say: It’s time for a break! So, I decided to “unload” for three days i.e. January 22nd, 23rd and 24th. After this, I will begin pre-planning load and unload phases into my training. So, my next load phase will begin on January 25th and go to February 10th, which is 17 days. Once again, I will unload for three days, so February 11th, 12th and 13th. The reason for this shorter load phase is because I travel to Arizona on the 13th and so would like to go into that camp feeling fresh. Starting on February 14th I will then start another load phase that will last 22 days, and end March 7th.

Anyways, you get the picture. I am not entirely sure what effect this new principal will have on my training, but I will definitely write a post at a later date with the results. Keep in mind, this “load” and “unloading” is happening while still breaking the season into various phases. So, starting on January 25th, I will be in my second load phase of 2014; at the same time I will be in a Vo2Max focused phase on the bike, as well as a Vo2Max focused phase in running.

I thought this idea warranted its own post because it may be something you are intuitively thinking about when writing up your training, but may not be explicitly incorporating into your training plan. If you have any additional feedback or ideas to add, please comment!!