The Importance of Short & Long Term Planning

by May 2, 2021Uncategorized0 comments

The importance of a long term and short term plans

Great coaching is about applying a plan properly to ensure getting the best results possible. However planning a racing season, and creating the proper build goes far beyond the race dates and applying basic training cycles. It is very easy for both an athlete and coach to get lost in this chaos. For that reason that I created the Advance Training Plan (ATP) template in 2004, which for the past 4 years has been used by USAT. All Vanguard Endurance coaches write athlete plans in two parts, long term plans or ATP’s and Short Term plans. ATP’s are written for at least 3 months in advance or more depending how far out the race dates for an athlete blocked in. Short term plans are written on a weekly basis, prescribing individual workouts for that week. By using the ATP as a guide we can write the weekly plans effectively by quickly gathering information about build phase, hours planned for each discipline, and make adjustments for the previous weeks results.   Every athlete should have a copy of this plan and therefore can have a basic expectation of what the weekly load should look like.

Short term plans shouldn’t be written more than two weeks in advance and ideally no more than one week. I have in the past tried to write short term plans for longer periods like a lot of coaches doing now and while it is possible to do this, I have always found that the results are sub-par with lots of corners being cut. Without the feedback or data coming from the athlete, a plan that isn’t thoughtfully executed may end up causing more problems than improvements.

Example of ATP how to read it:

*ATP fill pic

When you look at the Vanguard Endurance ATP it always looks confusing but it really is not that hard to understand if you break it down into individual parts. The ATP works like a chart with the weeks of training expressed in the vertical column and what/how much we are training expressed in the horizontal rows.

*ATP Races and Race Priority

As you can see the first part of the ATP is designed to allow athletes to see when their races are and how they are spaced the corresponding ranking on the race importance as outlined but either A,B or C race levels.

*ATP Training Locations & Training Volumes

When the ATP was originally designed, I was working with a lot of elite athletes and they move around a lot between altitude and sea level so it was important to understand their location and how it would affect their training and so needed to be included. (The 2013 ATP is available in an Age Group athlete focused version as well an Elite/Pro athlete focused version downloadable below.)  

The other section outlined here is training volume for each discipline, swim, bike, run and strength. This should not be confused with mileage. Remember, the body knows how long it’s been going for and at what intensity but NOT how far it has gone. That is why we focus on these two areas and not on training distances. This section allows us to see what sort of volume will be in our max weeks and how far out from races this is. It also allows us to add intensity while ensuring we do not exceed an athlete’s ability to handle the load created by “Volume + Intensity + Specificity + Life”.

*ATP Training intensities & Specific testing requirements

The final section of the ATP as shown above allows us to determine the makeup of the sessions we will be doing. These are broken down in to the traditional areas that I teach (Base, Strength, Strength/Endurance, Speed Endurance, Race Specifics & Taper). How much of each and which aspect is more important through different points in the training cycles will be determined by your coach. They will determine this using a combination of factors through their understanding of your individual physiology and what is needed to get the best possible results in the lead up to race day.

Example of short term plan from above ATP, and what it means.

*Training Peaks Image

From the above Training Peaks example you can see how a normal week should be laid out (This one was from an elite IM athlete). On the right hand side you will see the weekly totals of training for Swim, Bike and Run; these should closely correspond (+/- 30 min a week) to the volume you have laid out of the ATP for that week. The makeup of the week should have the correct balance of base, strength, strength/endurance etc work as were expected from the ATP. Youcan also see that have designed it into block of training hard 3 day block Tuesday – Thursday & hard 2 day block Saturday & Sunday. Both of these blocks are separated by recovery days to allow the body to recovery so that we can continue to load with less risk of injury. Keep in mind each 2 or 3 weeks volume is lowered as an adaption week so that athletes can adapt to the load they have been placed under so that the next training block can have more loading than the last.

As a coach it is our goal build world class plans both from an ATP point of view as well as from a short term point of view. But because athletes adapt at different rates and their lives may take unpredictable turns, short term plans may not always meet up with the original ATP and may call more adjustments.  However, if we as coaches do our job correctly, no matter what happens between now and race day we will get you there in the best possible shape you can be to have a fantastic race.