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Is ‘Peaking for a Race’ Your Best Strategy?

By Dana Williams | In Optimal Performance | on May 14, 2013

In the world of cycling, and most other sports, we hear a lot of athletes, coaches and other support staff talking about the importance of ‘peaking’ for a race. I recently read a race report by one of my teammates earlier this week in which he stated he had ‘missed his peak’. For me personally, this didn’t really connect with me. Nothing against him and his training techniques, but I haven’t put much focus towards ‘peaking’ over the last 10 years of bike racing. Maybe it’s because ‘peaking’ wasn’t talked about much in an anaerobic sport like ski racing (my sport before cycling) compared to aerobic sports like cycling and running. That said, I believe I’ve been able to achieve a high level of fitness and results without worrying too much about ‘peaking’ for a certain bike race. Why might this be?

Don’t get me wrong, I have thought about ‘peaking’ before. It’s hard not too. The word is constantly mentioned in magazines and by TV commentators when major sporting competitions are about to take place (Giro d’Italia, New York Marathon, Tour de France, the Olympics, etc) so it’s easy to focus on it. But it’s still not something that I have focused on…and I don’t, or didn’t really, have an answer as to why. That’s until I read an article by a well respected sports psychologist, Dr. Jim Taylor. Read it and you will understand his philosophy.  When I read this, a light bulb went off. Being ‘primed’ makes sense to me: http://drjimtaylor.com/2.0/cycling/cycling-introduction-to-prime-cycling/#comment-745.

Being a business owner, father and athlete, it’s hard  to find time to do a high volume block of training. This is usually the first step of achieving a ‘peak’. The second part of the ‘peak’ equation is a rest period. I can easily find time to do this rest period, but without the time to get a high volume block, that style of training simply doesn’t work for me. And I’d say that there’s lots of other athletes like me, fighting to balance all of life’s priorities while maintaining a certain level of fitness. A training program based around lower volume of higher intensity has been effective for me and the athletes I coach. It keeps us ‘primed’ throughout the entire season, while keeping motivation levels high.

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