By Leandro Lutz
Long distance skiing has evolved a lot in the last decades, not only in relation to the equipment and techniques, but also in relation to sports training. A systematic training, taking into consideration a physical activity performed regularly and with a good dose of volume and intensity will invariably lead any Nordic skier to an improvement in his/her performance.
What makes the difference in the performance development for long distance skiers is the correct and systematized prescribed training. And in order to organize the routine of training and competitions, the training periodization appeared, which is nothing more than to plan the athlete’s training in a given period.
The first studies on periodization were written by the Russian Matveev in the 60s and since then the training system has been evolving. A basic structure of training for long-distance skiers is usually followed to facilitate the organization of training periods and the control of loads, which can be called blocks. In this sense, there are three main blocks; the macrocycle, the mesocycle and the microcycle.
Macrocycle is the entire periodization, that is, the entire training season, from the first day of training to the last one. If for example the training period is 11 months, the macrocycle will extend for 11 months. Within this block we have the preparation period, the competitive period and the period of rest or transition.
The preparation period serves to increase the physical capacity of long distance skiers. In the competitive period the highlight of the training consists in the specificity of long distance skiing, where it aims to reach the athlete’s maximum performance. While the rest period, the objective is the physical and mental recovery of the athlete and gradual loss of performance achieved at the end of the entire period of competition, without these levels reaching the same or lower levels than the beginning of the training season.
The mesocycles are the smaller blocks that divide the macrocycle into smaller periods, which allows one to control the volume, the intensity and the recovery of the training. The duration of each mesocycle is from 4 to 6 weeks on average, with alternation of volume and intensity between weeks, and in the last week the volume and intensity are generally reduced in order to prevent overtraining and to allow adequate recovery and increase performance.
Each mesocycle has specific objectives to be achieved at the end of each period. It is recommended that the long distance skiers do not start a new mesocycle before they have fully recovered from the previous one, and this can be monitored by physiological and biochemical exams, as well as training test results. In addition to the preventive factor, the result of these tests and examinations allows the coach to verify if the proposed goal is in the correct direction, modify it if necessary and avoid overtraining.
And finally we have the microcycles, which are the blocks that will form the mesocycles. In the most common periodizations, the microcycle corresponds to one week of training. Usually every four consecutive microcycles correspond to one mesocycle, which amounts to one month of training.
These microcycles are constructed so as to gradually increase the training intensity to the third microcycle, which corresponds to the highest intensity within a mesocycle. The fourth and last microcycle is called regenerative, since it has the objective of providing the athlete with the complete recovery of the previously performed training, a super-compensation and preparing the athlete for a new mesocycle. In this period, both the intensity and the training volume should be reduced.
Now that Visma Ski Classics Season IX is over, it's time to think about the upcoming winter season. Make your choice between Visma Ski Classics Pro Tour or Ski Classics Challengers and start planning your workouts by periodizing your overall training!