Endurance training plan – how to periodize training

We have now defined your: what (type of sport), why (your ambition), and when (main goal and seasonal goals). Now it’s time to determine how to make your endurance training plan! 

When to start training

Training starts in relation to your A-race, counting back from race day in your calendar. The first couple of weeks is not very race-specific. Your training will be more and more sport- and race-specific the closer you get to your race. At the start, it’s more about to get into structured training, and that in itself can be a sub-goal if you aren’t used to training. When starting training, start out slow and build. You have to give your body and mind time to ease into the workload.

How to periodized training

Your season will be divided into different training blocks, that serve different purposes, but they all have the same goal. And that is to prepare you for your goal (A-race). The different training blocks are defined by there volume and intensity. 

5 steps to successful training and racing

In order for you to juggle everyday life and to succeed with your training and racing, we have developed five steps, this being the fourth one in which we will help you to define your starting point, your goal and the required training effort. We help you to answer how much, how often, and how hard you should workout. All of this is put together in an individual endurance training program.

In this series of articles, we will walk you through, 

  • How to start endurance training. With the knowledge of your mental and physical ability, you have a better chance to plan your season. We go through how you can make a self-assessment of your starting point.
  • Endurance training and racing. Your training season will “revolve around” the main race. So, how do you identify it, and what are your training objectives?
  • Training volume in endurance sports. Your capacity is slowly but surely built up during the season by a series of training sessions. Hours spent on training is, therefore, a central theme. How much and how often should you workout.
  • Endurance training zones – Intensity in training. Whether you base your training on heart rate, pace or effect, your training zones are the foundation for all training and racing. How hard should you workout, and how do you know what is enough?

Base training, your pre-season

At the beginning of your base training, it is more about volume than intensity. And this is true regardless of which distance you have chosen as your main distance. This is so that you build a solid base of endurance. 

Build training, getting into race season

After the initial period of workouts focusing on your endurance, you start training with a focus on muscular endurance. This means that you will work out with higher intensity, and if we add intensity to the training, we need to take the volume back a bit. The body isn’t adapted to going all out on all sessions.

Race season

The last big cycle of training will be more race-specific. And that means that you will work out more with the purpose of getting into race shape, and race-specific speed. With the last weeks being focused on form and race prep. That means a short period right before the race. 

After racing

One thing that you should keep in mind is, if you are coming off of a season, and have reached your peak form. You need to allow yourself to take a step back and “become slow” again. Your A-race is for you to peak at. And after that, to be able to start building again and to get better, you need to let your body relax.

No one is in peak fitness all year round.

How we periodize our training plans

Our online based individual endurance training plans (be it for triathlon, swimrun or any other sport) are 12 weeks per macrocycle. Where we have a build-up of either volume or intensity, week by week. In your pre-season, the training follows cycles of 3 weeks of ramping up (volume and intensity), and then a recovery week.

In our race-specific programs (see Race Up Triathlon and Race Up Swimrun), it is a little bit different, but mainly, it is two weeks of building up volume followed by a recovery week. And the last two weeks will have a lower volume but will be very race-specific.

NOTE: recovery is not the same thing as “doing nothing”. Recovery is still active, but it is a way of being in motion and pushing forward by letting your body recover in a structured way.

Additionally, you will see that we also have test weeks planned. This is for a couple of reasons. The first being for you to calibrate your training levels continuously so you always train with purpose and the right intensity. Another is so you can track your progress. And it is a great way to train on being nervous and that can give you an idea of the feeling you have on race day. 

You can also change one of the tests for a B- or C-race! 

The important thing is to start from your A-race/seasonal goal, and count backward so you build a structure for your season whee you plan for recovery, tests and volume and intensity.

  • Background

  • Training

  • Enter the date you think you are ready to start with structured training.
    Date Format: YYYY dash MM dash DD
  • A rule of thumb: Sprint (6-10h), Olympic (8-12h), Ironman 70.3 (8-14h), Ironman (10-14h)
  • Racing

  • If you have not yet decided, enter an approximate date.
    Date Format: YYYY dash MM dash DD
  • Other


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Intensity levels of endurance trainingTraining duration in endurance sports