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Periodization Training as it Relates to Performance

Updated: Feb 16

Part One: Periodization training as it relates to performance

Let’s start with two athletes who qualify for the Boston Marathon.

Dash signs up for Boston when registration opens. He trains all year round and knows he’ll be in some type of form to compete at Boston. Dash’s weekly volume stays high and he does one to two interval workouts per week. He tempos the majority of his runs. It is rare for his weekly volume to dip below 50 miles.

Violet also signs up for Boston. She’s a little more structured than her younger brother and prefers consistency and periodization. The majority of Violet’s runs are kept easy to moderate. Occasionally her weekly mileage will reach above 50 miles but this is usually succeeded by a down week. She performs anywhere from 0-2 workouts per week depending on the time of year. When she does her interval workouts she’s full-gas.

Both Dash and Violet can be successful at Boston and there are plenty of case examples where both philosophies have succeeded. What philosophy works for one individual will be different for another; this is true at both the professional and amateur levels.

At Golden Endurance we tend to endorse some type of structure. Structure is important from a performance standpoint: achieve faster times over the course of a season by peaking systematically. Structure allows athletes to develop solid foundations over years of training while avoiding burnout and injuries.

The rest of this article will aim at parsing both Dash and Violet’s workload and recovery cycles and further, understanding how this relates to performance. While they are both superheroes, they still carry human flaws that are surprisingly relatable.


To understand the differences in Dash and Violet’s training lets first take some time to talk about periodization, macrocycles, mesocycles, and workouts

Periodization training was first introduced by Leo Matveyv in the 1960’s and has since provided the bedrock for modern endurance programs. Matveyv described periodization as subdividing the calendar year to fit around the competitive season. The gross subdivision of the calendar year is referred to as Macrocycles. If a runner were training to peak at the Boston Marathon, a Spring race, they may structure their year for base building over the Summer (Preparatory Period), interval work in the Fall/Winter (Transition Period), and race season in the Spring (Competition Period). As such, their fitness over time graph would look like this:

The primary incentive for structuring training like this is that an athlete is setting themself up for peak form when it is time to compete. Thus, Violet’s year using periodization and macrocycles looks very different than Dash’s: