Planning the Training
A Training Plan aims to identify the work to be carried out to achieve agreed objectives. Training Plans should be drawn up to identify long-term (4 years) goals and short-term plans for the forthcoming season. The plan could comprise a single A4 sheet identifying the overall plan for the year and more detailed weekly plans identifying the specific activities the athlete is to carry out in its simplest form. I will concentrate on developing the short-term annual Training Plan for the rest of this topic.
The training year's start will depend upon the athlete's circumstances and objectives, but this would generally be around October for track and field athletics.
The first stage of preparing a Training Plan is to gather background information about your athlete and the forthcoming season's objectives. The sort of information to collect is as follows:
Analysis of the last program
If this is not the first program you have generated with the athlete, then a vital activity to conduct is a SWOT analysis of the last training program:
Before creating a training program, we must analyse our athletes to determine their strengths and weaknesses. The first step is to identify the ideal attributes (e.g. body build, strength, endurance, speed, flexibility, etc.) to allow our athlete to achieve their goals. The next step is to assess our athletes against our ideal athletes to identify their strengths and weaknesses (gap analysis). Addressing the gaps may require us to think about long-term planning (4-8 years), but we can set realistic but challenging goals to start addressing the gaps for this macrocycle. The following link provides an example form for this athlete analysis process.
Periodisation is the method of organising the training year into phases where each phase has its specific aims for the athlete's development
The phases of a training year
The training year is divided into 6 phases, as follows:
It assumes that the competition climax will be in August
What if there is an indoor and an outdoor season?
For the athlete with competitive objectives for both the indoor and outdoor season, then the phase allocation for the indoor season could be as follows:
and the outdoor season is as follows:
It assumes that the indoor season's climax is in February and the outdoor season is in August. Depending on your athlete's objectives and abilities, the year starts, and the duration of each phase may have to be adjusted to achieve appropriate development.
Objectives of each phase
The objectives of each phase are as follows:
Activities of each Phase
The athlete's physical needs that require development are:
Each of these needs should be seen as a building block, where specific blocks must be in place before you progress to the next. Failure to do this may result in injury. How you allocate the blocks to each phase depends upon the athlete's weaknesses and strengths and is for you, as the coach, to decide with the athlete.
One approach is to progress the building blocks as follows:
When progressing from one block to the next, remember to fade one out as the other comes in and not switch from one block to the next overnight. Some blocks, once started, may continue to the end of the season but at a less intense level, e.g. mobility. Other blocks to consider are relaxation, visualisation and psychology (mental attitude).
Volume, Intensity & Recovery
The relationship between Volume of work, Intensity of the work and Recovery within the session:
Preparing a plan
The steps in producing a Training Plan are as follows:
As athletes mature, they develop in terms of their sports and education, career, physical maturity, and relationships with those around them. On average, an athlete is likely to face up to seven transitions, and perhaps the critical change occurs around the age of 20, when they may be:
Coaches must consider these transitions when planning their athletes' annual and long-term training programs.
Athlete development model - Wylleman (2004)
A Macrocycle is a period (e.g. 11 months) defining the available preparation time up to a major competition.
This can be divided into developmental periods called Mesocycles. A mesocycle is usually 4-8 weeks in duration and has a specific objective, e.g. general preparation, specific preparation, competition.
A Microcycle is a shorter training period of about 7-10 days and includes more detailed information on the intensity, frequency, duration and sequencing of the Training Sessions.
The following link provides an example of an Annual Training Plan (Macrocycle, Mesocycle and Microcycle) to help guide you in planning an athlete's training program.
A training unit is a single activity (e.g. 6 × 60 metres at 90% effort with 2 minutes recovery) with a set objective (e.g. develop specific endurance). A training session consists of one or more training units, e.g. warm-up unit, Technique drills unit, Speed Endurance unit and a cool-down unit.
A training schedule (microcycle) comprises several training sessions that can span from 7 to 10 days.
Goal setting is a simple yet often misused motivational technique that can provide some structure for your training and competition program. Goals give a focus, and there are two acronyms to guide goal setting.
The basic principles of fitness training can be summed up in the acronym FITT
The basic principles of a warm-up can be summed up in the acronym RAMP
A simple system for making changes to a sports activity can be summed up in the acronym STEP. Adjust each, or any, of the following to provide different challenges for players and to meet the needs of the individual:
The basic principles of fitness training can be summed up in the acronym SPORRI
The basic principles of fitness training can be summed up in the acronym SORAR
When developing a training program, it is important, especially for young athletes, to take into consideration the athletes:
Long Term Athlete Development (LTAD) is a sports development framework that matches training needs to an athlete's growth and development.
General Annual Training Programs
The following are examples of basic training programs suitable for the young athlete or for the mature athlete who is just starting in Track and Field athletics:
For the experienced athlete, select this link for examples of event-specific annual training programs.
If you quote information from this page in your work, then the reference for this page is: