Does the notion of peak fitness in running ring a bell? Because mastering the training plans to progress is good. But understanding the interest of the peak of form and how to reach it at the time of its objective competition, is to put all the chances of success on your side. In this article we will see what is a peak of form, how to reach it and especially how to integrate this notion in his training. Before that, I strongly recommend that you read my article entitled Understanding Training. It will give you all the basics you need to better understand this notion of peak fitness and therefore make your training even more effective.
What is a fitness peak in running?
When you run and try to improve, you want to be at your best on the day of the objective competition. And this requires the attainment of what is commonly called the "peak of form". That moment when all the signals are green. The training has gradually brought us to a very good level, we feel that the result could be really good... And that's where we shouldn't be wrong. Because between reaching its peak of form and a deformity due to fatigue, the border can be thin.
Manage well the few days / weeks before the race and you will feel like you're growing wings on D-Day! This feeling is almost indescribable because it is so pleasant! Being able to reproduce the gaits that seemed difficult during training with ease at the beginning of the race gives you enormous confidence to tackle difficult moments! And since the mind plays a major role in the result of a competition... You put all the chances on your side if you are in good spirits from the beginning of the race.
How to reach its peak of form?
The main difficulty with peak fitness is to manage your training well. When preparing an objective, the common mistake is to want to work twice as hard at the beginning of the preparation. We are overmotivated at the idea of the race we are preparing and we want to do well. We also often think that we will not reach the necessary level of fitness if we do not give it our all right away. However, if the training plan is adapted, don't worry, going too hard from the beginning is either hurting yourself or reaching your peak fitness level too soon. Don't be one of the kings of training who are impressive all the time... except on the day of the competition! If you are not in shape on D-Day or worse absent from the starting line due to injury... It's a real shame!
Obviously, not reaching your peak form before the objective competition is not good either, it's preventing you from reaching your full potential. So you need to have a progressive training plan that allows you to gradually get into shape. (See graph below). You should feel, in the last cycle of your training plan, the fitness to rise and the exits become easier and easier. By putting the fatigue aspect aside with a good tap, you will arrive in ideal conditions for a personal record!
Manage the last week before the objective!
The crucial phase of the training plan to reach its peak of form is the end! When you approach the goal (14 days for a marathon, 10 days for a half, 7 days for a 10km...), it is time to take a break. The point of trying to improve is no longer necessary. It would only generate fatigue. On the contrary, a few adapted training sessions will allow you to boost your fitness.
What do you mean? With less tiring training. The objective is no longer to improve his level but to maintain it while reducing his fatigue to a minimum. The form is the sum of our level and fatigue. So we just want to keep the same level, while being fresh.
Maintaining the peak of form is not a complete rest
Complexity is therefore about maintaining your level. Because to reduce fatigue, it's simple, just do nothing. But to combine that with maintaining your level, you have to continue to stimulate the qualities you have worked on during the training plan. The key is to reduce the volume of training while maintaining intensity work. We play with the number of repetitions of a fractioned session as well as on the recovery times.
The volume of the session will be less important than during the big weeks of work and the recovery time will be lengthened. Thus, we continue to work at the same pace as before, but with little or no fatigue. It's called the "typing" phase (pronounced American style!) and for more details, here are some resources where I detail that:
Don't try to be in shape all the time!
Did you know that you can only reach a peak in fitness 2 to 3 times a year? This is a very important point, it can generate many frustrations. Entering a competition when you are far from your peak form is often a difficult race. This is why we generally advise someone who wants to progress to program only 2 to 3 objectives per year.
A peak in shape lasts only a few weeks, so you should make the most of it when you reach it. On short distances like the 5 or 10km, it's easy, you can do several races during this period. On longer distances such as half or marathon, it is a "one shot". Unfortunately, you will not have the right to make mistakes, otherwise you will have to repeat a complete cycle of preparation until you reach your next peak of form....
Between two peaks of form, we manage!
It is when you are in the trough of the wave that you have to be aware that a peak in shape is not always. After a peak in fitness and the associated competitions, it takes a recovery period for the body to regenerate. Anyway, even if you work hard to keep your peak in shape, know that it will disappear on its own. We must therefore accept that between the two, even if we do competitions, they will be more training competitions and the sensations will be less good. There's nothing wrong with that, just be patient, keep training regularly and plan a next goal a few months later. You will then be equipped to prepare it well and reach your next peak of form!
Personally, I often try not to put a competition in the next 2 months with a big objective. I tried again this year and I find it too frustrating not to have feelings. I prefer to train in my own corner and do everything I can to make the next peak in fitness a success!
Instructive this explanation on the peak of form? I hope it will allow you to plan your objectives accordingly! There is nothing to stop you from running all year round, but don't focus on the time at each competition! For those who have trouble with this, plan 2 to 3 periods of competition in the year and train for these periods the rest of the time!