Tag Archives: Chris Pilone

Reverse Periodisation and Ideal Preparation Length

periodisationlarge

By Chris Pilone.

Traditional periodisation of training for any long distance triathlon (half ironman or longer) and any long distance running event (half marathon or longer) usually calls for some sort of aerobic conditioning phase and then event specific harder work followed by a taper and then race.

In the 80’s some coaches and athletes started using what is called reverse periodisation. This involved a period of more intense training, lower volume and racing at shorter distances prior to beginning a very specific period of higher volume and less intense training aimed at an appropriate long distance event. The higher volume less intense training lasted for a period of 8 to 12 weeks with a 7 to 10 day taper. Italian Gelindo Bordin won the 1988 Olympic marathon using this type of periodisation. His high volume, lower intensity phase of training involved clocking up sometimes more than 250km per week of running and some marathon paced type sessions such as 3 x 30 minutes at 3:05 to 3:10 per km! Bordin had a 2:08 marathon PB.

In 2013 Pete Jacobs (2012 Kona Champion) raced a very fast half distance event in Australia about a month prior to Kona. I think his time was in the very low 3:40’s. Social media in New Zealand was quite active post this event and speculating how fast he would go at Kona. I put my two cents worth in by saying I didn’t think he would be a factor at Kona. In the back of my mind I was thinking reverse periodisation and that fast a month out wasn’t a good sign. I realise Pete has been troubled by health issues in recent years so other factors may have been involved but in 2013 my comment re him being a non factor at Kona proved correct.

For ironman triathlon and also running marathons I am a firm believer in a reverse periodisation approach. For specific ironman or marathon running training the longest block of training I would use would be 12 weeks, but that would include two easier weeks and 2 week taper. I have known people perform better on shorter preparations than this. I ran my best ever marathon off a 5 week block of high mileage and a one week taper. The higher mileage phase involved some hilly running and some long steady state running but no hard speed workouts. I was fit prior to this training block having done lower mileage and also some short distance racing on the track. In the marathon itself I ran 2:20 on a tough hilly course feeling good most of the way and winning comfortably. I could have run 2 to 3 minutes quicker if I had really extended myself.
This was 1983 and back then I asked myself how much faster I could have run with 12 to 15 weeks of high mileage plus some good hard speed work. I know the answer now! WORSE!!!!!

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DO NOT TRY THIS SESSION OR FOLLOW THIS ADVICE IF YOU HAVE ANY HEALTH ISSUES, FEEL SICKNESS COMING ON, OR ARE AT THE BACK OF A SICK PERIOD. CONSULT YOUR HEALTHCARE PROFESSIONAL BEFORE BEGINNING ANY ADVICE, TRAINING OR COACHING PROGRAM. BY FOLLOWING THIS SESSION OR ADVICE YOU AGREE TO THE SANSEGO TERMS AND CONDITIONS www.sansego.co/terms-conditions

Recovery and adaptation

recoveryadaptation

By Chris Pilone.

Stress plus rest equals adaptation. It sounds like a simple statement, but it is the most ignored training principle. How many athletes have we seen who just keep churning out hard training session after hard training session and appear to be in the best shape of their lives? Then suddenly they are sick or injured!

I have done this myself on more than one occasion and seen others do it many times! When I coached Hamish Carter he didn’t have a clue what lactate threshold or VO2 Max was BUT HE DID KNOW HOW TO TRAIN.
i.e. He instinctively knew when to back off and take a rest day or one or two easy days. The same can be said for Ethiopian and Kenyan distance runners. They train on instinct rather than what is written on a piece of paper. When I coached Hamish he would do a number of hard days in a row. Usually four hard days in row, followed by one or more easy days. Usually a quality run session on the first day and a quality bike session on the fourth days. Volume was high and usually three disciplines per day.

However after one easy day or rest day the decision to move onto another block of hard days was dependent on Hamish’s recovery. There are all sorts of highly scientific ways to judge recovery but the thing that always worked for me in my coaching is an athlete’s mood. If an athlete is moody or bad tempered they most likely have not recovered from previous hard training. Former World Duathlon Champion and now prominent sports doctor Matt Brick once said “If you meet more than two bastards in one day you are probably overtraining.”

Basing an athlete’s training around recovery can be time consuming for a coach and makes doing set things on set days difficult, but when training an athlete to compete at the highest level (Olympics or World Champs) it can pay big dividends.

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DO NOT TRY THIS SESSION OR FOLLOW THIS ADVICE IF YOU HAVE ANY HEALTH ISSUES, FEEL SICKNESS COMING ON, OR ARE AT THE BACK OF A SICK PERIOD. CONSULT YOUR HEALTHCARE PROFESSIONAL BEFORE BEGINNING ANY ADVICE, TRAINING OR COACHING PROGRAM. BY FOLLOWING THIS SESSION OR ADVICE YOU AGREE TO THE SANSEGO TERMS AND CONDITIONS www.sansego.co/terms-conditions

Running technique and economy

runningtechnique

By Chris Pilone.

Running technique is a much debated topic. It is also a very much debated topic in the triathlon world. Despite some success in triathlon coaching, I come from a competitive distance running background and also middle and long distance running coaching background.

Three things which can be measured when it comes to running technique:
1. Stride length
2 Stride frequency (cadence)
3. Ground contact time (how long your foot stays on the ground mid stride)

Can running technique be changed and should it be changed?
Some people think the Mona Lisa is the most beautiful painting in the world and would pay millions of dollars for it. I don’t particularly like it and wouldn’t pay a one hundred bucks for it.

This is the same for running technique to the naked eye. Beauty is very much in the eye of the beholder. One thing that has a huge impact on performance in any long distance running event though is RUNNING ECONOMY. This is a measure of how much oxygen and how much energy you use at sub maximal speeds. This can be measured in a laboratory and LESS IS BETTER!!!!

A few years ago I coached a girl who ran 32:41 for 10km and 73:08 for a half marathon. This was at age 19. She also trained in a very simple manner. Moderate volume, quite a lot of hilly running and very moderate interval work, which was never done on a synthetic running track.

This girl also looked terrible to the naked eye in terms of running technique, but when tested in the laboratory for running economy her numbers were EXCEPTIONAL. The second best I have ever seen. She was also very seldom injured.

She was later coached by her boyfriend at the time, who reckoned he could do much better with her than my very basic approach.
i.e. With better training and some super-duper running technique which only he appeared to know about, she would be a much better runner and a potential super star. Sadly she has never run remotely as fast and has been injured a lot.

Moral of the story is if its not broken, don’t try to fix it.
i.e. If uninjured and running fast then don’t change it.
However, rather than deliberate change to running technique based on observation by the naked eye there are a few things that an athlete can do which may change running technique. This in turn may improve RUNNING ECONOMY. These are various forms of hill running and some type of strength work in the gym or simply strength work using your own body weight. Also various types of running drills.

But the big thing to remember in terms of performance in any type of endurance running is that the key is ECONOMY and not technique.

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DO NOT TRY THIS SESSION OR FOLLOW THIS ADVICE IF YOU HAVE ANY HEALTH ISSUES, FEEL SICKNESS COMING ON, OR ARE AT THE BACK OF A SICK PERIOD. CONSULT YOUR HEALTHCARE PROFESSIONAL BEFORE BEGINNING ANY ADVICE, TRAINING OR COACHING PROGRAM. BY FOLLOWING THIS SESSION OR ADVICE YOU AGREE TO THE SANSEGO TERMS AND CONDITIONS www.sansego.co/terms-conditions

The big day

bigdaynew

By Chris Pilone.

“And Now for Something Completely Different” was a quite famous Monty Python movie. Sadly this is how some athletes approach race day itself when it comes to competing in endurance events such as ironman, half ironman or a marathon running event.

Some new form of nutrition is given out in the race pack or some type of new wheels or running shoes are obtained at the expo and then actually used in the key race. I have seen this on numerous occasions lead to various forms of disaster in the athlete’s biggest race of the year!

New wheels which have been untried in training end up breaking or just not working as they should. This goes for any type of bike equipment and even the bike itself. Last year a girl I coach rode a new bike in a half ironman event because of a sponsorship deal. This was on a few days notice and despite the best efforts of a number of people the fit between new bike and old bike was different. On the day this concerned this girl and she had a below par race. Some weeks later and with a proper bike fit sorted she had two very good performances at half ironman events.

On quite a few occasions I have seen new super duper forms of energy gels or energy bars handed out in race packs. On one occasion an athlete used these gels in the event and this resulted in a mid run chundering experience on the side of the road. If the athlete had stuck to what had worked in training I am pretty sure this situation could have been avoided.

So on the big day itself in terms of any type of equipment and nutrition, if it hasn’t been used in training or a build-up race, DON’T TAKE THE RISK!!!!!

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DO NOT TRY THIS SESSION OR FOLLOW THIS ADVICE IF YOU HAVE ANY HEALTH ISSUES, FEEL SICKNESS COMING ON, OR ARE AT THE BACK OF A SICK PERIOD. CONSULT YOUR HEALTHCARE PROFESSIONAL BEFORE BEGINNING ANY ADVICE, TRAINING OR COACHING PROGRAM. BY FOLLOWING THIS SESSION OR ADVICE YOU AGREE TO THE SANSEGO TERMS AND CONDITIONS www.sansego.co/terms-conditions

Periodization and planning

periodizationandplanning

By Chris Pilone.

A couple of days after the one two finish of Hamish Carter and Bevan Docherty in the 2004 Olympic Triathlon in Athens I went on a casual bike ride with Mark Elliot. Mark at the time was Tri NZ High Performance Manager and also Bevan Docherty’s personal coach. I was Hamish Carter’s coach and Mark and I had both been appointed as coaches for triathlon to the 2004 New Zealand Olympic team. Both Hamish and Bevan shared the same swim coach, former NZ national swim coach Mark Bone.

On this particular day Mark and I cycled into the hills high above Athens. Once at the top of all the hills we were able reflect on what had been a quite remarkable few months. I was still relatively inexperienced as a coach but had always been a good planner when it came to athletes training and timing of training so they performed well in key events.

As Mark and I looked out from our vantage point in the hills above Athens Mark remarked “Well, Pilone, we were the kings of the world for a day.” I casually remarked back “Well, it was only for one day Mark.” Mark’s response was quick and to the point. “It was the right bloody day though!”

Mark’s to the point remark has stuck with me ever since. What would have happened if the men’s Olympic Triathlon of 2004 been 4 weeks earlier or 4 weeks later? Would the result have been the same? Most likely not. Having said that, if it had been 4 weeks earlier or 4 weeks later Mark and I were both good enough coaches to change the planning and periodization process for both athletes.

Planning and periodization of training is the key for success in any endurance sport. It is no good if you are flying in training but it is still 6 weeks to go before a target half ironman or ironman race. I bet all of us have either done this at some stage or seen others do it.

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DO NOT TRY THIS SESSION OR FOLLOW THIS ADVICE IF YOU HAVE ANY HEALTH ISSUES, FEEL SICKNESS COMING ON, OR ARE AT THE BACK OF A SICK PERIOD. CONSULT YOUR HEALTHCARE PROFESSIONAL BEFORE BEGINNING ANY ADVICE, TRAINING OR COACHING PROGRAM. BY FOLLOWING THIS SESSION OR ADVICE YOU AGREE TO THE SANSEGO TERMS AND CONDITIONS www.sansego.co/terms-conditions