In my last two posts, I described the two steps cyclists need to take to develop an annual training plan and discussed the first of these steps, developing SMART goals. Before I describe the second step, (drafting your training program), it is important to understand the structure upon which periodized training programs are built. This structure includes the three cycles: macrocyles, mesocycles and microcycles.
The macrocycle consists of all 52 weeks of your annual plan and therefore includes all four stages of a periodized training program (endurance, intensity, competition and recovery). Because of its length, you will almost certainly make changes to it throughout the year. Think of the macrocycle as a “birds-eye” view of your annual training plan.
The mesocycle represents a specific block of training that is designed to accomplish a particular goal. For example, during the endurance phase, you might develop a mesocycle that is specifically designed to enhance your muscular endurance (the ability to pedal relatively big gears at a moderate cadence). This mesocycle might consist of 3 weeks of strength training and big gear spinning, and one week of recovery. Mesocycles are typically 3 to 4 weeks in length but can be a bit longer. Two very common mesocycles are 21 and 28-day training blocks. I will provide an example of a training plan with 21-day mesocycles in my next post.
A microcycle is the shortest training cycle, typically consisting of a single week or two with the goal of facilitating a focused block of training. An example of this is an endurance block where a cyclist strings three or four long rides together within one week to progressively overload training volume (with the objective of improving aerobic endurance). Generally speaking, two or three microcycles are tied together to create a mesocycle.
Click here to download an issue of my Performance Cycling newsletter that provides a more detailed description of macrocycles, mesocycles and microcycles. In my next post, I will describe how to create your annual training plan by providing you with the Endurance Phase of my 2010 Training Plan!
NEXT POST – October 19, 2009
Creating Your Periodized Training Program